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For a fact, sustainable entrepreneurial behaviour remains a critical engine of development, innovation and growth of a nation’s economy. Taking cue from the key elements contained in its definition, entrepreneurship entails taking advantage of unexploited opportunities, to achieve wealth creation and economic development. To create and sustain wealth, an entrepreneur must be innovative. Innovation would mean that an entrepreneur is capable of disrupting existing conventional production style, market structures, consumption patterns, and products.
However, they are ready to replace them with superior environmental and human-friendly products or services. We must acknowledge that entrepreneurs are critical agents of change in the global effort to solve environmental challenges and achieve sustainability. This article therefore examines how business owners can build a successful sustainable startup in the third world.
What is a Sustainable Startup?
In simplest terms, this can be explained as an entrepreneurial project, seeking to develop and concretize a business model that is self-sufficient and has zero negative impact to the ecosystem in which it operates. In achieving this, it employs a strategy that’s conscious of the long term impact of all its business operations on the environment, both natural, economic and social environments. The question is, is it even possible to achieve sustainability in the “third world”? Yes it is possible. How do you go about it? Read further to learn things to do
- Know your WHY – Have a clear path
- Build a sustainable culture
- Encourage community participation
- Review environmental impact
- Review your supply chain
WHY? Have a Clear Path
If we are to be as realistic as possible, building a sustainable startup is not a walk in the park. To ease the knots, try to have a clearly defined sustainability goal(s). Mind you, it is more realistic to have fewer goals and be intentional about them. Using our own company, Joadre as an example, our own core goal is to foster entrepreneurial culture in Africa. Your own major goal could be to achieve energy efficiency across all your business operations. This will give you ample opportunity to inscribe this goal in your company’s vision and culture. Simultaneously driving the workforce to work coherently at achieving your set targets.
Build a sustainable culture
One of the surest formula to achieve a successful sustainable startup in a third world is to involve your employees and the locals around you. One, your vision of sustainability is highly dependent on them. For that reason, your employees would always be your most valuable asset, therefore, invest in a growth culture. A growth culture would mean that you motivate them, reward excellence and allow them thrive within your business. Not only would they be loyal by sticking around, they will also be willing to take on challenges, come up with solutions and ideas that can drive your business forward. Secondly, engage in human capacity building in your local community. How? Consider hiring employable members of the community in your recruitment exercise. Not only will you have reduced poverty (SDG 1), but also send a message of “we value our local community” to your customers.
Encourage community participation
By community, we mean, your employees, customers/clients, all your stakeholders. Get everyone on board, ensure they see the benefit of achieving sustainability. The cheat sometimes is to start with the senior staff. It is believed that the rest of the staff will take cue from them. If you have about 3 sustainable goals, let two senior staff champion two, and let one junior staff lead the third. Involve your customers to be ambassadors of your goals. Let them spread the words in the market. Make good use of the media to get your message out there. Check out our previous post on Media Training.
Review environmental impact of your business operation
If you are really intentional about your sustainable goals, you may consider tapping into the indigenous knowledge. Indigenous people are popular for their sustainable usage of environmental resources. For a start, go green! Maybe you’ve been hearing the music of ‘go green’ all this while, and you just aren’t sure of what that even means. Going green involves using renewable materials for your production. It includes being more energy efficient – you save energy cost while helping the ecosystem.
You also win for yourself a reputation of being a responsible business. If your business is around laundry, you can give your customers reusable eco-friendly bags, instead of plastic. Check out our previous blog on How to Start A Laundry Business In Nigeria #1. You can also encourage greener commuting. Instead of each staff bringing their own car, make available a staff bus. Do you know the environmental impact of 30 staff driving their own personal car to work? You just saved the universe!
Review your supply chain
It is essential that you take time to review where your suppliers are sourcing raw material from. Ensure they practise sustainability too. Start by communicating your agenda to them. If they fail to meet your sustainability requirement, research and contract a supplier that shares your vision. Don’t drop the bar you’ve set by patronising a supplier that uses toxic substances, harmful to the environment. You should be interested in following these 4 Sustainable Entrepreneurs and Enthusiast developing Nigeria.
To sum all of this up, it is important to let you know that sustainability is not a bus-stop, rather, it is a journey. Don’t think of sustainability as a destination. For a fact, when you achieve one, you take up another, and the journey continues.
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Still with the intention to provide more tools for you, we created our tailored all-in-one app to offer up-to-date knowledge, provide exposure for social entrepreneurs and offer coaching services. Get the app (Android version) here and for IOS users, a webapp version and IOS version is on it’s way, sign up for our newsletter here to know when its out and get the consistent ressources via email. If you need templates to develop your ideas, you can check our Joadre Tools. If you want to contact us, use our contact form or consult us through the app.
Thank you for reading to the end.