Youth For Our Planet/Path of the Changemaker/ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

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INTRODUCTION

In this module we will cover what an environmental entrepreneurship is, its characteristics, and the different types of organizations that you can develop. We will feature ISeeChange as a case study, learning from its founder’s experience and receiving pearls of wisdom for future young entrepreneurs.

OBJECTIVE

This module will help you understand how you can be an entrepreneur, whether you choose to be for profit or non for profit, while helping the planet and creating positive impact.

SUMMARY

Environmental Entrepreneurship describes the discovery and sustainable exploitation Of opportunities to create social change that positively transforms the environment. Whether you want to develop an idea for a new venture, product, service, technology, organization, campaign: you can choose to become a for profit or a non for profit entrepreneur. But first, there are some concepts you need to keep in mind before you decide to start your entrepreneurship journey.

  • For profit organization: The aim of for-profit organizations is to maximize profits and forward these profits to the company’s owners and shareholders. Social enterprises: The goal is creating a positive social and environmental change, as well as a steady revenue. It sells a good or service that advances a social, economic, or environmental cause.
  • Social enterprises are structured like commercial businesses, with a business model, a consumer base, and revenue streams that go back into the initiatives of the enterprise (apart from the repayment to investors), creating a self-sufficiency in their operations.
  • Non-profit organization: a non-profit organization does not work for profits. That is, all funds generated from the organization is directed towards the beneficiaries of their social or environmental issue focus. Nonprofits are generally funded through charitable donations from companies, individuals, or even governments.

For-profit or nonprofit?

It is commonly thought that environmental and social projects cannot be capitalized, but this misconception is changing. Entrepreneurships can grow financially while solving environmental issues, thus being profitable and impactful. Entrepreneurs are finding innovative ways to challenge the traditional thinking about nonprofit organizations (by focusing on economically sustainable models) and for-profit entrepreneurs (by focusing on solving social and environmental issues). As you set out on your mission to change the world, you will have to decide if you want to form your entrepreneurship as a for-profit or non-profit or perhaps some hybrid of the two. The answer will largely depend on your best guess as to source of funding and your activities.

HOW TO START?

Draft a mission statement
The purpose of this statement will be to define your entrepreneurship’s purpose. It has to be short, and powerful, so that it might orient all your future endeavours, help to communicate your mission to any actor that you might meet, and explain your mission to your team or collaborators.

A mission statement should set out your vision of the future and how your entrepreneurship has a crucial role in achieving it, it should help anyone reading it to answer the following questions: Why is this a new and winning idea? How will it improve the current conditions? What are this organization / project / initiative values?

Build a business canvas model
If you are looking to start a entrepreneurship, it is important to be prepared to approach funders or other entrepreneurs with a clear structure that outlines how your project/idea will be successful. Prior to approaching anyone for money, it’s important to have clear answers to a common series of questions you may be asked.

For example, “How long have you been in operation?” “What stage is your project/idea in?” “How big is your team?” “Who is your competition?” “What makes you unique?” “How much capital do you need?“.

You can find more info on how to make a business canvas model created by Moving Worlds, a network that supports social entrepreneurs. Or if you want to explore options for non-profits Here you can find and adapted version. Otherwise use the following page’s Canvas to start filling in the information. https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/social-enterprise-business-doing-good/0/steps/17179 Source: thestrategygroup.com.au/business-model-canvas/

COMMUNICATION & MARKETING

For any initiative you create, you’ll require a communication or marketing strategy. It is essential that you develop a brand for your project that includes a verbal and visual identity. Here you can find a great compilation of ideas on how to develop a brand identity created by Canva.

Once you have your mission statement and your brand, you can start building your external communications platform. This can be as simple as a social media account, or as complex as building your own website. Your communications strategy will be based off of what communications channels you want to use and needs to keep in mind the following objectives:

  • Inspire: You are in the business of inspiration. It is important that the story you tell inspires others to join your cause, change their behaviour, buy your product, or tell others about what you taught them. Your message must be clear and understandable.
  • Mobilize: After inspiration comes mobilization. Provide your network with information on how they can take the next step. In this regard the information you provide to mobilize your cause needs to be simple and engaging, people’s attention is a rare resource so once you have it, lead them to simple actions or tasks they take in order to engage with your idea.
  • Create income: Whether for profit or non-profit, you need to consider financial aspects regarding your idea or initiative. You will not be able to continue if you can’t create revenue to grow, or, if you have a non-profit, if you can’t reinvest in your projects. Income is thus a key element in the success of your initiative.

This means you need to understand the needs and wants of those stakeholders around you, as well as where you fit in the current market, and how your initiative relates to the economic sector and other similar organizations. For-profit and non-profit organizations should be able to demonstrate the value of their products and services in order for them to have strong sales strategies.

To go further you can check out Module 17’s resources for project development and ideas about setting objectives, stakeholders mapping, fundraising, and impact measurement tools.

BUILDING YOUR STRATEGY

A strategy, is a documented plan on how your enterprise is setting out to achieve their goals. The strategy contains a number of actions that outlines how your entrepreneurship will go about attaining these goals. For example, it will look at the needs and expectations of customers or beneficiaries, or will examine the long term growth and sustainability. Having a strategy is important because it gives your entrepreneurship time to get a sense of how it is performing, what its capabilities are, and if these capabilities are able to help it grow.

When building your strategy, make sure you:

  • Define your audience or clients
    To communicate successfully, it’s important to define your audience and tailor your message accordingly. You may have multiple audiences (called target markets) and your message might not apply to everyone the same way. When profiling your audience, think about their daily lives, their beliefs systems, and how they consume information. You can also define your audience by demographics, including their age, gender, and/or locations. For example, if your project is to encourage people to use a ride sharing or public transport solution, you may want to target those that live in cities, near public transport services, and who have consistent schedules.

To identify your audience you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do these people get their information?

  • What are their daily routines? What technologies do they use?

  • What do they like / dislike?

  • How does your idea, service, or product help them?

  • Build an audience and choose appropriate communications channels
    Building an audience happens over time but you can begin by leveraging your own networks, be it your personal interactions or your social and digital platforms. Once you know your intended audience, utilize the communications channel that is most appropriate for them. Some examples are mailing lists, social media posts, flyers, or door to door conversations. Although different audiences may need different styles of messaging, your content and focus should always remain consistent. This also helps to reinforce your brand.

  • Set targets & measure your progress
    Progress and success can be measured in many ways, and this is both a standard and necessary practice regardless of what sector you are in. Having well measured data is essential for finding investors or donors for your idea, to have available when you apply for grants, and will help you strategize and prioritize your activities. Sometimes you may find that not all results can be measured with numbers, but it is important to have a set of objectives or targets defined from the beginning (and redefined appropriately) to measure your initiative’s progress against them. You can measure your results quantitatively or qualitatively. In Module 17 you’ll find more information on this.

  • Listen to your community
    Listening must be a major part of your communications strategy. It will help create a road map when you are first designing your project, and should be readdressed throughout your project’s lifespan. Engaging with your audience will ensure your messaging is more effective, will help you tailor your products or services to better meet the needs of your customers, and will ensure people’s buy-in in your idea for change. ISeeChange, has developed a successful business model that relies on what communities perceive in their local context about the impacts of climate change. They generate public information and address climate action by engaging communities in their business model. You can see what they do here.

CONSIDER YOUR TEAM

Many environmental entrepreneurs start their journey on their own, but as with life, good company on your path will always be better. Whether you start with a group of friends, or volunteers, it is important that you find people that share your values, and understand the objective of the idea or initiative you are leading.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Environmental entrepreneurship contributes to addressing specific local needs that top-down solutions are not considering, solving, or prioritizing. Paying attention to your context and observing what problems your community faces may give you an idea to develop an environmental entrepreneurship whether it is for profit or non-profit.

Always remember your motivation, the issue that you have at heart, and use that inspiration to bring people along and sell your solution or idea.

CHANGEMAKER CHALLENGE

  • Beginner: Identify businesses that are impact focused and write them down. What makes them different? What type of changes are they creating through their business?
  • Intermediate: Try to develop a model canvas for your idea whether is for profit or non-profit. What are the main challenges you find to make it real?
  • Advanced: Once you have clear your idea or project, visit Thepollinationproject.org/. They provide funding up to 1000 USD to grassroots projects by people who seek to create a more compassionate world. In the application form you’ll have the chance to apply all that you’ve learn in this module.

When you are leading these teams it’s important to understand their interests, their strengths and their capacities, so you can channel those towards your goals. One of the challenges of leading a mission or cause oriented organization is that you have to be champion of this cause, and an effective manager at the same time. Your team will be expected to do the same. Remember to distinguish between volunteer work, and employees; many will view this just as a job, and you will have to understand this to channel their expectations towards the results you are looking for. Everyone has a role to play, setbacks and frustration are also part of the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Here you can find 10 tips for choosing effective team members provided by About leaders Platform: https://aboutleaders.com/effective-team-members/#gs.u38cyd

OPTIONAL MATERIALS

REFLECTION CORNER

After watching the module’s video, reflect and learn about the following questions:

  • Do you know businesses or organizations that aim to have a positive impact in the environment? Do you buy their services / products? If not, consider doing so and supporting local impact entrepreneurs!
  • Greenwashing is when companies invest more time and money on marketing their products or brand as “green” rather than actually doing the work to ensure that it is sustainable. Can you think of some companies that promote these kind of practices?

FACILITATOR

JULIA KUMARI DRAPKIN
FOUNDER OF ISEECHANGE
USA

Julia Kumari Drapkin is dedicated to connecting communities to each other and their changing environment. Drapkin founded ISeeChange after over a decade of reporting natural disasters and climate change across the globe and in her own backyard on the Gulf Coast. Under her leadership, ISeeChange has received recognitions by the Obama White House Climate Data Initiative, NASA, MIT Solve, Echoing Green, Grist, and other organisations.