by Mark Polet
In the conversation around environmental impact for social enterprises, impact businesses, and indeed, BAM companies, there are two strands that integrate and weave around one another – like strands of DNA.
The first strand, addressed in my previous post, is that every impact business should be an environmental company, complying with the ethic and regulations around good environmental practice, acknowledging that we are stewards of God’s creation.
The other strand is the provision of environmental technology and solutions as a business opportunity in itself. Positive environmental impact can be achieved, not only through operational choices that care for creation and steward natural resources, but by the very product or service offered by the business.
Environmental Challenges are Business Opportunities
Peter Drucker said, “Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise.” This is particularly true of the myriad environmental issues to be faced in our day.
The environmental challenges in the countries we work in are an opportunity. What if we could provide clean air, clean water, clean energy or clean food to the spiritually and materially impoverished? Can you imagine the joy of a village that is now served by a business providing clean water, with the consequent benefit that children are in school and men and women are working, rather than ill at home with parasitic infection? Can you see providing garbage pickers added technology so that they can gain more value from the recycled materials they collect, and because of the added income, their children can go to school rather than helping in the business? Or how about a chicken farmer that at one time produced only eggs and meat, but now also produces revenue through fertilizer, bio gas and protein from what was once considered waste by-products?
The environmental challenges in the countries we work in are an opportunity. What if we could provide clean air, clean water, clean energy or clean food to the spiritually and materially impoverished?
If any business can positively impact on all four bottom lines, it should be a business providing environmental goods or services. The provision of clean air or water, clean food or energy by an economically sustainable business leads to better health outcomes of its clients, which leads to a stronger community, which leads to the permission to sit on the floor and share the Good News to your new partners and clients. It could be a win-win-win-win.
Making it Happen
We can do this. Groups like the Environmental Technology Initiative (ETI) are putting together the necessary teams of business persons, experts in finance and governance, and scientists and engineers to come up with robust solutions to environmental challenges. Market analyses are now being planned to see what the communities we serve really require, not what we think they need.
If you are looking for ideas, one good place to start is the sustainable development goals developed by the United Nations
Think of clean food, for instance. It Is projected we will have 9.7 billion people in 2050 on this planet, billions of whom have not heard the Good News. Your innovative farm system, whether hydroponics, aquaponics, extend seasonal growing or another innovation, may help to conserve soil and increase income for you and your local partners.
Thirteen per cent of the world’s population still lack access to electricity, according to the World Bank. What if you are the right entrepreneur to set up a distributed electrical utility, or provide robust, local solutions to energy needs?
Every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise. – Peter Drucker
It won’t be easy. Business is not easy, and impact business is especially challenging. Back-engineering environmental technology where it will work and be maintained in places that do not have access to the right screws, bolts and components, let alone qualified technicians, will take ingenuity and patience. But we have a unique competitive advantage. We have many like-minded scientists, engineers, and businesspersons that are praying for a chance to serve. You as an impact entrepreneur can give them that chance.
Clean air, clean water, clean energy, clean food. You pick. Go for it.
>> Read previous post: Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World
>> Read excerpt from: Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation
Join us on The BAM Review this month as we highlight the topic of BAM and Creation Care. This blog series is linked to a new BAM Global Creation Care Consultation which will present its findings at the BAM Global Congress in 2020.
Mark Polet is a professional biologist with over 40 years of experience. Working on four continents, Mark and his wife Terri bridge cultures and traditions with people of good will to serve those who are spiritually and materially impoverished. Mark is passionate about bringing engineers, scientists, and business together to develop solutions to challenging environmental issues. Mark has the privilege to coordinate the BAM Global Creation Care Consultation. Prior to working in the impact business space, Mark & Terri owned a number of companies, including an environmental services company and an environmental consultancy.
Profile photo by Lucie Leduc