To “Do-Well-and-Do-Good,” Consider
By Rubin Patterson, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
Americans are giving more thought to entrepreneurship in
light of continued corporate downsizing, offshoring of
production in faraway places such as China and India, as
well as the increasingly common practice of contingency work
“We’ll call you when we have work, then dismiss you the
moment it dries up.”
Some are considering entrepreneurship today out of a sense
of necessity (due to the issues above) while others are
doing so out of a long-held desire to be their own boss.
Either way, those who take the entrepreneurial plunge often
share the characteristics of: (1) discovering opportunities
to satisfy needs; (2) innovating a product or service to
satisfy specifically identified needs; (3) possessing the
drive and determination to see the entire operation through
completion and (4) possessing a willingness to take the risk
of failure – without anticipating a government bailout!
Let’s not romanticize this idea of self-employment – most
people who want to become entrepreneurs never gain access to
requisite capital to implement their dreams. And most of
those who do so fail to make their enterprises work. Some
individuals even suffer a double-whammy: first they are
downsized out of their former place of employment, then,
after opening their own enterprise, it subsequently fails.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of entrepreneurship:
business entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. The
former is concerned with profit maximization for the owner,
while the latter is concerned with maximizing social impact
through meeting the unmet needs of a targeted area. Social
and business entrepreneurship, however, basically share the
same skill sets.
targeted area of entrepreneurship that some individuals
might consider is “sustainability entrepreneurship,” which
will become a major phenomenon in the near future.
Essentially, sustainability entrepreneurs identify ways to
satisfy social needs or markets with diminished adverse
impacts on the environment. In other words, sustainability
entrepreneurs do-well-and-do-good because they earn income
from identifying and implementing ways of preventing
economic activity from harming the environment.
Consider that the world’s population is growing by over 100
million new citizens every year, 90 percent of them live on
less than $2 per day in poor or developing countries and
basically all of them want to live lifestyles closer to ours
compared to what they experience in their own countries.
However, with today’s fossil fuel-based general production
paradigm, there simply aren’t enough resources to satisfy
the lifestyle desires of 90 percent of the world’s new
citizens. Moreover, the planet isn’t capable of absorbing
the destructive impact of pollution from ramped-up
production even if enough resources did exist.
Transnational corporations (TNCs) such as Procter & Gamble,
General Electric and Unilever are in the process of
rethinking their consumer products and their production
methods so as to sell products to people who represent 90
percent of the world’s population growth. These companies,
with operations in over 80 countries, recognize the
potential economic gains from countries representing the
bulk of future population growth. But these markets or
social needs aren’t just for the TNCs to satisfy; there is
also opportunity for micro-size sustainability
entrepreneurs. There are small firms making $100
battery-operated refrigerators and $300 solar cookers for
sale and distribution where 90 percent of the world’s
population growth is occurring.
On the other hand, if you want to operate closer to home,
there is also tremendous need here for sustainability
entrepreneurs. American companies and households are trying
to cut back on costs. Sustainability entrepreneurs can help
them to do so by eliminating or at least reducing pollution.
Pollution is the unwanted byproduct in the production,
delivery or use of a product or service. Pollution, which
adds no value to the product or service, represents the
waste of material or energy that one pays for to acquire a
Take, for example, the charcoal or even gas-operated
barbeque grill, which is about as non-hi-tech as you can
get. Both charcoal and gas emit heat-trapping gases into
the atmosphere, and consumers have to keep buying more
charcoal and gas to cook those mouth-watering ribs. In this
instance, both the carbon emissions as well as the charcoal
and gas constitute pollution.
Last week, Olivia Holden of Assets Toledo and I discussed,
among other issues, the need for better solar-powered
barbeque grills, which, of course, would have no pollution:
neither heat-trapping gases nor the repeated purchasing of
charcoal or gas. The production of such a grill is just one
of countless opportunities out there for micro-level
Assets Toledo, under Holden’s outstanding leadership, has
provided entrepreneurial training for over a thousand
citizens from the Toledo metropolitan area over the past
decade. At Assets Toledo, clients learn the techniques of
producing business plans, overcoming the challenges of
entrepreneurship, financial reporting and budgeting,
executing priority management, and much more, all from
people who have “been-there-done-that” with brilliant
success. If clients would acquire these insights and
techniques and then the skill to apply them in the area of
sustainability entrepreneurship, some will no doubt
experience personal success, and the environment will
consequently experience less ecological stress. (Feel free
to contact Assets Toledo.)
Put on your thinking caps and get busy developing your
sustainability entrepreneurial enterprise!