You are about to find that making business can be more than a self interest in profits but also care on how it impacts the planet and the people. To leave you a bit more inspired we showcase some entrepreneurs that reinvented sustainability.
When we hear the word entrepreneur, we usually imagine someone in an expensive suit who thinks only about his profit and interests! But is it necessarily the case? Judging by the works of these five young entrepreneurs, one can conclude that it isn’t – at least in the world of eco + social entrepreneurship!
See, we are living in a world where money is everything… Today most people think only about profit, profit, and profit. In fact, the idea most of us have is that everyone starts a business with a single thought in their heads: “to become rich”. Or, at least to make enough money to live a carefree life. Hence, we tend to picture business people as unscrupulous folks who don’t really care about anything but themselves. But is it really like this?
We are all witnessing the deterioration of the planet. Do you remember the fires that devoured half of Australia in 2019? If you remember, the situation was pretty dramatic with Amazonian rainforest fires too! Behind these fires there were also pretty obvious economic interests, therefore the human factor is gravely involved in environmental damage plus the social consequences that come with it. If we continue to exploit our resources freely and think only about ourselves in the short term, the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
So is it possible to shift this profit paradigm and use business as a tool to tackle some of these enormous social and environmental problems humanity is facing?
While trying to answer this big question, I came across the concept of social and eco entrepreneurship. And the good news is that these types of “green” entrepreneurs are on the rise! If you are thinking of starting your business you can consider addressing massive problems at once, from providing food for the poor, cleaning up the oceans, reforesting by planting trees, empowering underprivileged communities and the list goes on!
I found all this super exciting and became curious to learn more about it. And this is when I began researching deeper and was very surprised by everything I discovered. Here are some of my findings on entrepreneurs that have reinvented sustainability:
But what is Sustainability Entrepreneurship?
Generally, it is pretty simple. Sustainable entrepreneurship is a business-driven concept of sustainability that aims to increase business and social value. We often call this shared value. The essence of this type of entrepreneurship is to create sustainability directed at the mass market and large parts of society. It is oriented towards opportunities and generates new products or services.
According to Schumpeter (1934), the author of the Theory of Economic Development, entrepreneurship is “creative destruction”. In this sense, every green entrepreneur destroys conventional, unsustainable production methods, products, market structures, etc.
NOTE: If you want to explore a bit further on this matter we’d recommend you to start here:
- What is and how operates a social enterprise
- The 4 business models to start your ethical brand or social enterprise
- How to identify a social enterprise?
- Social enterprise vs nonprofit: a world where charities are no longer needed!
- Ways and trends for Businesses to Give Back
Entrepreneurs Who’ve Reinvented Sustainability
Here you will meet some amazingly inspiring people, who decided to create a business that will not just bring them profit, but also help other people and the environment. The choice of these five projects is the result of my research and probably the ones that left the biggest impression on me. As social + eco entrepreneurship is a growing trend, you’ll find plenty of other impact businesses featured at OurGoodBrands!
1. Noor Veenhoven, Marcella & Melissa Wijngaarden, co-founders, Project Cece
Sisters Marcella and Melissa, and their friend Noor, became aware of the humanitarian and environmental issues that occur because of the fast fashion industry. They met at the University in Amsterdam, where they studied physics. Together they felt that they can’t be just silent bystanders, and so decided to create the Project Cece –project conscious clothing.
Project Cece is a platform that works as a search engine to find eco-friendly, fair trade, and ethical clothing brands. Over the years they’ve partnered with over 200 brands, and now they advertise more than 10,000 products in one place. Everyone who has ever tried to find ethical, fair trade, and environmentally friendly products knows how difficult it is, especially because most often you won’t find these products in big chain shops. Doing the research and landing on every single website can be quite daunting. Fortunately, there are more similar e-commerce platforms coming up that do the job for you and approach ethical shopping in the most simple way!
2. Nora Jeanne-Joseph, Radikal
Nora Jeanne, recognized two major problems in her home country, Haiti. One is the general inequality between men and women in various aspects of life. The other is an economic disparity that comes with a business model that opens opportunities for women. Hence, she decided to create RADIKAL, the company that combats these problems.
RADIKAL creates companies that produce beautiful and wellness products for underprivileged communities. This process is through the network of micro-entrepreneurs. Her goal is to show Haiti can function on the principles of sustainability and gender equality. She believes that this will completely alter the world’s perception of the island. An interesting fact is that this is a women-only project, designed by and for women. It is a perfect example of how entrepreneurs and businesses can work together to create a better world.
3. Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien, co-founders, FoodCloud
We don’t know about you, but for us, it is always shocking to read over and again about how many people are hungry. And we want to point out that at this moment we aren’t talking about places where there is a raging war between countries of the African and Asian continent. No! We are talking about the U.S.A and Western Europe. Fortunately, some people like sisters Iseult and Aoibheann O’ Brien felt they had to do something, so they invented a platform and app that provides food to charities.
FoodCloud is a platform that connects businesses from Ireland and England that have too much food and redistributes it for local charities. FoodCloud gives information about the extra food (cans and dry food) and charities are also informed about when and how to collect it. There are also storage places where companies regularly send food to create reserves for charities. This is one of the best entrepreneur ideas that we have seen, because it not only solves the social problem of hunger, but it also tackles food waste which is a massive environmental problem.
4. Jessenia Timothee, Epis Kreyol
Listen up, guys! If you haven’t tried Haitian cuisine so far, we recommend you to search for a recipe or make a reservation in a restaurant. We promise, whatever you take, it will be one of the best things that you put in your mouth. The main reason for this is Haitian spices.
Jessenia Timothee decided to go further to bring her country closer to us. She is promoting the culture, the vegetation, and the food through the production of her Epis Kreyol. This product doesn’t contain any GMOs, and it is a blend of Haitian spices which are known for their health benefits. You can add it to every meal you like! The brand uses only organic ingredients and packages in a reusable glass jar, which means that Jessenia is an eco-entrepreneur too. A simple business idea bringing the culture of a country to your daily meals through healthy and vegan locally grown produce!
5. Rossi Mitova, co-founder, Farmhopping
Rossi Mitova is a powerful and intelligent woman who shows us that you can be a woman and a green entrepreneur in the Balkans, too, not just in Western Europe and the US. Rossi is the CEO and co-founder of a company called Farmhopping.
Farmhopping is a Bulgarian marketplace that allows customers to buy fruit, veggies, and more directly from farms. The best thing here is that there is no middle man, hence the prices are much lower than in conventional supermarkets. Her entrepreneur advice, especially to young people, is to always think about how the world is going to improve the lives of others, including the planet.
Sustainability entrepreneurship is one of the best things that you can do for the planet and others around you when you are starting a business. And thinking out of the box can eventually guarantee a successful brand – plus getting you to solve many problems at once!
As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can show that you care about the environment and other people, even when you are an entrepreneur. Have you ever thought about becoming a green businessman/woman? How does this sound to you?