What Sustainability means for Startups

We are consuming almost everything of our planet,over exploiting its resources and producing excessive waste which is likely to exert dire negative consequences in terms of the environmental conditions around us. Environmental sustainability is the key to the success of any production process in this day and age, and sustainable entrepreneurship is one of the ways through which businesses can try to maintain and grow their models in ways that ensure sustainable growth for all.

Unsustainable business practices in the past have led to a plethora of environmental and social problems. For a long time in history, large organizations have ignored the issues of sustainable waste management. Controlling carbon emissions, instituting best practices for recycling and solid waste management are some of the more recent responses to climate change and pollution, which are now understood to directly and indirectly impact the production processes, and have far reaching impacts on the onset of natural and man-made disasters. Business and corporations have now realized their contribution to issues of hunger, poverty, fertility and population growth both locally and globally.

These realizations backed by the continuous involvement of donor agencies, international multilateral organizations, academia and the business community have put sustainable entrepreneurship development at the forefront of the development process at large.

Social Entrepreneurship is not only the answer to sustainable growth, it is also the solution to the changing demographic structure of the global economy, where aging populations and youth unemployment have made both policy makers and practitioners to think hard about getting these populations to contribute to the economy through active initiatives that serve the society at large. Social entrepreneurship has gained immense popularity in many developing countries, and Pakistan is no different.

Sustainable Startups1

Since the past decade a number of incubation centers in Pakistan are helping young entrepreneurs to develop their business models and help them in the process of sustainable growth through startup funding. In the wake of the energy crisis and environmental pressures, these businesses are also encouraged to keep a social and environmental focus.

What then is Sustainable Entrepreneurship? Theoretically speaking, sustainable entrepreneurship is a combination of sustainable and lucrative entrepreneurship. Sustainable entrepreneurs believe that they can help in deploying green and eco-friendly technologies like recycling, solid waste management, carbon emission caps and the like to enhance employment and growth in a way that indirectly impacts the environment and climate challenges in a positive way. Moreover, young entrepreneurs are coming up with unique startup ideas to directly address environmental issues. This has led to the view that entrepreneurship is not merely about earning positive returns in the long run; it is also about generating long-lasting positive environmental impacts by thinking out of the box and developing businesses sustainably.

According to Fiona Tilley and William Young in 2009, sustainability entrepreneurs could potentially be the true wealth generators of the future.

True wealth Generators? Yes, it is true if we look around western countries, especially North America and Scandinavia,where sustainability is at the forefront of business development at the national level.There have been a number of successful sustainable businesses that work together with the government and educational institutions striving for a greener nation.

The entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and incubators of Pakistan must learn from these best practices, and encourage the sustainability aspect in entrepreneurship education, so that young minds who are in the process of idea generation do not just focus on the financial and marketing aspects of business development,but also on the environmental and climate issues around them.

Let’s save Environment through Entrepreneurship, Let’s recycle, let’s stop consuming and producing extra waste, let’s Startup sustainably!Share with us your ‘sustainabile business practices’ at : info@perspective.pk .

Opinion Contributor:
Sara Majid is a second year Phd student in Xi’an Jiaotong university of China.She has been conducting research on identifying and exploring deeply sustainable entrepreneurship in China and Northern Europe respectively. She is also working as a research volunteer in Eco Way limited , an American recycling company operating in China.

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