In this section:

At the heart of all business should be sustainability. No, this is not about tree-hugging, it is about reminding ourselves that we should leave the planet in good shape for our children.

November 7, 2018

§3. Governance – what should the CEO or Directors be doing?

In this series of three brief articles, Ron Ainsbury, Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield School of Management and Senior Fellow at the Research Centre Business Innovation at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, sets out why and how New Zealand directors should be directing efforts to ensure that their businesses have a clear purpose and have the governance systems in place to ensure that the purpose is followed.

Perhaps, by focusing on purpose and embedding the culture and values to support that purpose, much of the unethical behaviour of corporations could be reduced and so much of the focus on the plethora of compliance rules, regulations and procedures minimised.

Questions for Leaders

These are the fundamental questions that a board (or the CEO) should be able to answer.

Q What is the purpose of this business or organisation?

Follow Simon Sinek’s directive – “Start with Why?”[1]Why do we exist? A statement of purpose is not to be confused with a Mission Statement. The difference is neatly explained in an HBR article by Bruce Jones of the Disney Institute: “Purpose answers Why, Mission answers What”.

Is the purpose expressed in a simple, easy-to-understand way? There are now many examples of well-expressed purpose statements.

 

If the purpose is not clearly stated then the Board should work with the CEO to develop a meaningful purpose – one that is consistent with the operations of the business. There are several guides as to how to do this, for example, https://www.blueprintforbusiness.org.

Q Is the purpose supported by a set of values that define our organisation’s behaviour?

These should not be just words but should drive the way the business develops its strategy and manages its operations on a daily basis. Values can help drive the business. As Xerox CEO, Anne Mulcahy reported corporate values “helped save Xerox during the worst crisis in our history.”

New Zealand’s Z Energy has a clearly-explained set of values which provide a great example for others to follow.

Figure : Z Energy Values

 

 

Q. Does purpose underpin our current strategic plan and goals?

Does the CEO and the Senior Leadership team promote the purpose and values in the way they run the business or are these just mouthed? Does it drive strategy development? Underpin operations? The following slide was part of Unilever CFO Graeme Pitkethly’s presentation to investors in Singapore, December 2015 and is typical of many Unilever presentations to investors and shows how Unilever’s simple purpose statement underpins their business – resulting in returns to investors.

Figure: Unilever’s Strategy explained

Q Do we have a culture that is in synch with our purpose and values?

Sir Winfried Bischoff, Chairman, Financial Reporting Council states clearly that “establishing a company’s overall purpose is crucial in supporting the values and driving the correct behaviours. The strategy to achieve a company’s purpose should reflect the values and culture of the company and should not be developed in isolation.”

A key underpinning of art of the culture of the company will be the mindset that the Board and Leadership team adopts. Examples (not exhaustive) of mindset questions include:

  • What is our time horizon for decisions – short term profitability or medium-to-long-term sustainability of the business?
  • How open and honest are we about our business and the way we operate? Secretive and giving away as little information as possible or are we open to public scrutiny?
  • Are our relationships, with suppliers and customers, short-term and transactional or long-term with a share destiny?

Q. Am I satisfied that our board has sufficient oversight of these activities?

There are several different ways in which a board may exercise oversight, for example, appointing a sub-committee to be responsible, appointing a lead director, appointing a below board committee headed by a director. There are many guides available on line that will help the director, for example:

  • “Board Leadership in Corporate Culture: European Report” a Research Report by Board Agenda & Mazars in association with INSEAD 2017
  • FRC – “Corporate Culture and the Role of Boards” July 2016
  • BITC – “Towards a Sustainability Mindset: How Boards Organise Oversight and Governance of Corporate Responsibility” by David Grayson CBE and Andrew Kakabadse.

Q. Are we being open and transparent in what we do?

In our reporting are we making our customers, our people and our investors fully aware of our purpose, values and strategy to ensure that our activities are seen to be genuine and not just greenwashing or sustainability-washing?

The trend towards integrated reporting is developing with companies publishing just one report and not a ‘sustainability’ or ‘citizenship’ report separate from the financial report. See, for example Heineken’s 2017 Annual Report[2]: “Through “Brewing a Better World”, sustainability is embeddedin the business and delivers value for all stakeholders.”

 Conclusion

New Zealand leaders of businesses, large and small, need to put aside the “profitability first” philosophy that dominates businesses today.

By focusing their businesses on purpose and embedding the culture and values to support that purpose, much of the unethical behaviour of corporations could be reduced and so much of the focus on the plethora of compliance rules, regulations and procedures minimised.

[1]https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action

[2]Available at www.theheinekencompany.com

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§2. The Business Case

In this series of three brief articles, Ron Ainsbury, Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield School of Management and Senior Fellow at the Research Centre Business Innovation at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, sets out why and how New Zealand directors should be directing efforts to ensure that their businesses have a clear purpose and have the governance systems in place to ensure that the purpose is followed. In this second article we look at the evidence that businesses that do embrace responsibility and sustainability outperform competitors.

The Business Case

Business leaders, seduced by the lure of shareholder value maximisation, often proffer multiple excuses for not taking more positive action on ESG[1]issues, that they can’t afford it. Costs will go up. We are too small. Yes, we understand the triple bottom line – but for now it needs to be profit first, people and planet can come later, when we can afford it.

Yet, the evidence reveals these to be false arguments. Businesses that are embedding responsible and sustainable business practices show, lower costs, higher employee engagement and productivity and improved returns.

It may seem strange to have to set out a business case for being responsible and sustainable. Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer, has said “I’d love to see the business case for being unsustainable!”

The evidence is now conclusive. As the late Ray Anderson said – it is a better business model.[2]

In 2010 Britain’s Business in the Community recognized a divide between those that “embrace sustainability-driven strategy and management, and those that don’t. These ‘embracers’ are the businesses that will survive and thrive”. BITC commissioned the Cranfield School of Managementto compile the business benefits for being a responsible business, “to help those currently at an earlier stage of the journey”. The study[3]demonstrated seven ways in which business benefits:

  1. Brand value and reputation
  2. Employees and future workforce
  3. Operational effectiveness
  4. Risk reduction and management
  5. Direct financial impact
  6. Organisational growth
  7. Business opportunity.

Since that study, several further research papers have highlighted the benefits.  In 2011 a Harvard study[4]provided “evidence that High Sustainability companies significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market as well as accounting performance.”

In 2014 a study by the Smith School at Oxford Universityand Arabesque Asset Managementshowed that Companies with strong sustainability scores show better operational performance and are less riskyand that Investment strategies that incorporate ESG issues outperform comparable non-ESG strategies.[5]

In 2015 Project ROI[6]built on the 2010 BITC findings cited above and provided detailed economic analyses on business benefits:

  • Share price and market value
  • Sales and revenue
  • Reputation and brand
  • Human resources
  • Risk and license to operate.

The report concluded that a “more productive approach will be to develop business-aligned and integrated CR strategies.”

In January 2016 the Financial Times highlighted a report[7]by HBR Analytica and EY’s Beacon Institute that found “companies with a purpose beyond profit tend to make more money.”

In 2017 in a HBS Whiteboard session Andrew Winston[8]neatly summarises the arguments in “The Business Case for Sustainability.” No wonder then that so many leading global businesses are not just dabbling with ESG issues but going “All In”[9].

When Larry Fink, the CEO of the world’s largest investor, Blackrock, writes to the CEOs of companies he invests in and urges them to find their purpose and that the “board is essential to helping a company articulate and pursue its purpose” purpose – it is time for NZ Boards to sit up and take action.[10]

[1]Environmental, Social, and Governance issues.

[2]https://www.ted.com/talks/ray_anderson_on_the_business_logic_of_sustainability

[3]The Business Case for being a responsible business” 2011 available on www.bitc.org.uk

[4]The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance by Robert G. Eccles, Ioannis Ioannou, and George Serafeim HBR Working Paper 2011

[5]From the stockholder to the stakeholder:How sustainability can drive financial outperformance”by Smith School, Oxford Universityand Arabesque Asset Management 2014

[6]Project ROI Defining the Competitive and Financial Advantages of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability by IO Sustainability and Babson College 2015

[7]https://www.ft.com/content/b22933e0-b618-11e5-b147-e5e5bba42e51

[8]https://hbr.org/video/5415413929001/whiteboard-session-the-business-case-for-sustainability

[9]“All In: The Future of Business Leadership” by David Grayson,‎ Chris Coulter,‎ Mark Lee Greenfield Publishing 2018

[10]https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/investor-relations/larry-fink-ceo-letter

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November 6, 2018

§1. Profit Is not the purpose of business!

In this series of three brief articles, Ron Ainsbury, Visiting Fellow at the Cranfield School of Management and Senior Fellow at the Research Centre Business Innovation at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, sets out why and how New Zealand directors should be directing efforts to ensure that their businesses have a clear purpose and have the governance systems in place to ensure that the purpose is followed.

Perhaps, by focusing on purpose and embedding the culture and values to support that purpose, much of the unethical behaviour of corporations could be reduced and so much of the focus on the plethora of compliance rules, regulations and procedures minimised.

The Purpose of Business

The IOD’s Four Pillars of Governance Best Practice, states that ‘Corporate governance exists to help organisations achieve their fundamental purpose … typically to maximise shareholder value.’ Why?

This focus on short-term profit and maximising quarterly shareholder value has grown since the US Economist Milton Friedman first stated “there is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

As a result, since then, most business schools, business commentators and analysts have developed and used various profitability measures such as quarterly earnings per share, to gauge the success of businesses, and stock market investors narrow their focus even further, sometimes to daily profit expectations.

But shareholder value is not a legal requirement. The NZ Companies Act 1993, 131 (1) states that ‘A director of a company, when exercising powers or performing duties, must act in good faith and in what the director believes to be the best interests of the company.’ Australian, US, and UK laws reiterate this, using ‘best interests of the shareholders’ as the guideline for a director’s decision-making.

In recent years the wisdom of focusing a businesses’ purpose on shareholder value has come into question. Martin Wolf writing in the Financial Times wrote: “Almost nothing in economics is more important than thinking through how companies should be managed and for what ends. Unfortunately, we have made a mess of this. That mess has a name: it is “shareholder value maximisation”. Operating companies in line with this belief not only leads to misbehaviour but may also militate against their true social aim, which is to generate greater prosperity.”

This view has been repeated in several articles, for example, James Montier of the global investment firm GMO wrote a well-researched article in which he demonstrated that
shareholder value maximization is “The World’s Dumbest Idea”.

It is time business went back to basics. With a few exceptions, businesses start when an entrepreneur sees a situation where a group of people can have a problem solved. As Peter Drucker once put it, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”

Creating and keeping customers could mean offering a new product or service that is cheaper, or of higher quality, longer-lasting, is disposable, offers superior performance, offers faster performance, and so on. In each case there is a group of people who are willing to pay for this innovation. If we look at the successful companies of today and trace back to how they first started, we see this clearly:

  • Nike, founded by an athletics coach, who wanted his athletes to have better performing running shoes
  • Google founded by students who wanted to be able to find academic papers on the internet more easily
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wanted to help individuals share experiences with friends
  • Henri Nestlé wanted to help mothers who couldn’t breastfeed
  • Steve Jobs wanted everyone to be able to have computer power in their hands
  • Quakers offered to provide safe custody of gold for 17th century London goldsmiths and founded Barclays!

Each of these companies ventured into unethical behaviour, I assert because as they grew their governance focus shifted from purpose, values, and culture to short-term profitability, most probably as a result of stock market pressures.

Of course, there are many people who start a business simply dreaming they will become rich, but unless they find a market and provide an innovative solution, they won’t. If the entrepreneur manages the new businesses efficiently, then she or he earns a profit on the investment.

Drucker sets out three purposes of profit:

  • validation of the soundness of an enterprise’s efforts (the right purpose)
  • compensation for the risks that the business is incurring (dividends for investors
  • the generation of resources needed to fund future growth (sustainability).

The way to ensure the sustainability of the enterprise is to reinvest in innovation and meeting consumer needs.

Some continually argued against this profit-centred approach. Charles Handy, in the Michael Shanks Memorial Lecture in 1990 argued “To say that profit is a means to other ends and is not an end in itself is not a semantic quibble, it is a serious moral point.” And went on to address the purpose of business.

In recent years there has been a move away from Friedman’s profit-centred focus as business leaders have rediscovered the power of purpose. While John Elkington’s “People Planet Profit” may have started a trend towards businesses taking a lead in being socially responsible (CSR ) this new focus on purpose is not CSR it is central to the business. As David Grayson and others argue in their recently-published book, it is about companies going All In” (“All In: The Future of Business Leadership” by David Grayson, Chris Coulter and Mark Lee. Routledge 2018).

In October 2014 Coca-Cola Enterprise sponsored a “Future for Sustainability” Summit and commissioned a Cranfield School of Management and the Financial Times study, entitled ‘Combining Profit and Purpose’.

In a recent article, the strategy guru, Michael Porter wrote: “A big part of the problem lies with companies themselves, which remain trapped in an outdated approach to value creation that has emerged over the past few decades. They continue to view value creation narrowly, optimizing short-term financial performance in a bubble while missing the most important customer needs and ignoring the broader influences that determine their longer-term success. How else could companies overlook the wellbeing of their customers, the depletion of natural resources vital to their businesses, the viability of key suppliers, or the economic distress of the communities in which they produce and sell? How else could companies think that simply shifting activities to locations with ever lower wages was a sustainable “solution” to competitive challenges?

The role of Purpose is thoroughly set out in a seminal book “The Power of Purpose” by John O’Brien and Andrew Cave, required reading for every CEO and Director, indeed, for anyone interested in starting or running a successful enterprise, whether for profit or not.

Even in the world of investment finance, where the purpose of investing is purely for profit, we see a realisation of the importance of Purpose. Earlier this year Blackrock’s Larry Fink encouraged CEOs to reconsider their purpose writing “Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential.”

“The bottom line result is that purpose-driven, people-centric, values-driven companies outperform. Not just because they do better sustainably over time, but because they avoid the risk. They avoid the Volkswagen and the Tesco problems, and they avoid the thing that wipes 30% off their share prices.” Ann Francke, CEO, CMI

Instead of criticising those who have signed up to the New Zealand Climate Leaders’ Coalition we should all be encouraging all business leaders to go further and focus on the wide range of ESG risks and ensure that their individual businesses have a clear purpose. NZ directors may find that they will need to spend less time on compliance.

Next

In the second article in the series Ron will present the evidence that businesses that focus on purpose and manage responsibly and sustainably, taking into account their potential impact on a wide range of stakeholders, generate superior returns for their investors.

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October 27, 2018

“Shrinking our Wrap” !!!

The New Zealand Listener has published a cover article on Trash this week – quite interesting in light of the comments I wrote earlier about focusing on waste.

“Shrinking our wrap
With China shutting its gates to our plastics and paper, what can New Zealand do to stem the tide of ocean waste?”
by Veronika Meduna

If you can’t access, the nine-page article highlights the trash issues with data and pictures, reports on several businesses (including B-Corps) in NZ trying to turn waste into reusable materials, and introduces the circular economy with references to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation paper (of 2016!): ‘The New Plastics Economy’.

New Zealand is slowly catching on to the need to tackle trash and waste – and to start thinking in terms of the Circular Economy.

Current Issue (Oct 27 – Nov 2, 2018)

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October 22, 2018

Is the current focus on Climate Change misguided?

Is the current focus on Climate Change misguided?

I was listening to the BBC Friday night comedy when the subject turned to the recent IPCC Climate Change report. “I don’t see the politicians doing anything about it, so I’m not” said one comedienne. She went on to say she had explored the UK government website to find out what she could do – and there was nothing, she claimed.

Reducing CO2 emissions is something quite difficult for individuals to tackle – seemingly it needs disruptive changes to lifestyle: stop flying, stop driving a car, turn off the heating and wear warm clothes in winter and so on. All the luxuries of modern life for which generations have strived – to be denied.

In some parts of the world the response is ‘bring it on’. How many Scottish comedians have used that line since ‘Global Warming’ (what we used to call Climate Change) became the catch cry?

To my way of thinking, the fundamental causes of Climate Change is the result of waste; wasteful use of resources, such as oil, gas and coal. But it is also the non-use of abundant solar energy, which to me is another kind of waste.

Should we be focusing on eliminating waste?

A Dutch brewer once gave me a rather colourful explanation of fermentation. Yeast cells are floating in a sugary solution. They eat the sugar, make love producing babies (more yeast) and excrete alcohol and CO2. I hasten to add he used more colourful verbs!

After a while the alcohol level in the sugary soup becomes toxic, the yeast cells die in their own waste. Thus, there is an upper level to the alcohol strength that can be produced by natural fermentation.

The metaphor is clear. When people say we are killing the planet – is it the CO2 levels we should tackle – or waste?

A few years ago an environmental documentary, ‘Trashed’, featuring Jeremy Irons as presenter, was published. The message about how pollution is harming people and the planet is as stark as Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’. But, whereas Al Gore (and the IPCC) paint a future disaster based on predictions – ‘Trashed’ shows video footage of real damage.

The effects of waste are evident. We don’t need predictions of what might be and how our lives might be affected by waste . The effects of waste are before our eyes: polluted rivers and beaches, polluted air, city streets pock-marked with chewing gum, cigarette butts on street corners, litter alongside country roads, skeletons of birds showing a gut full of plastic.

Could a focus on eliminating waste be more productive?

Tackling waste first, by being less wasteful of energy in our homes and vehicles, by focusing on the household savings that will result, becomes individual action that tackles excess CO2. Let’s not forget it is excess CO2 that is the problem – without any CO2 at all – no plants, no trees, no vegetables – no life!

With Asian countries like China and Thailand refusing waste from western nations – it is time we stopped producing waste.

The circular economy movement offers dozens of practical tips for individuals, small businesses and community groups to take action. We don’t need to wait for government.

And whereas proposed Climate Change solutions appear to add significant costs to the economy, reducing and eliminating waste via Circular Economy principles offers value – measured by some in billions.

The Circular Economy opens up opportunities, for social and for-profit entrepreneurs taking advantage of new technologies (‘green chemistry, biochemistry, Nanotechnology and whole system design) in what Australia’s Natural Edge project called the 6th wave of innovation.

Shall we focus on eliminating waste?

© Ron Ainsbury 2018
www.GoJacaranda.com

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October 5, 2017

Trust and Business Leadership

Can much of the current political unrest be explained by the decline in trust of our leading institutions by the majority of citizens? A brief read of Edelman’s Trust Barometer might cause one to agree.

https://www.edelman.com/trust2017/

In answer to the question: ‘How much do you trust?’ in a survey of 33,000 respondents aged 18 and over in 25 markets 53% said they trusted NGOs, 52% trusted business, 43% trusted the media, and 41% trusted government. The level of distrust varies across countries but in almost every country there has been a steady decline in trust over the past the past few years.

Table: Distrust figures for selected countries

Reading behind these global figures are some interesting details.

In a crisis government official are only rated as very or extremely credible by 29% of the population, CEOs fared a little better at 37%. Most people are skeptical about what they are told by leader in a crisis.

Edelman sets out the path of a downward spiral as concerns turn into fears. Edelman focuses on five major concerns: corruption, globalization, eroding social values, immigration, and the pace of innovation. As concerns among the population grow to fears their belief in the system is eroded. Trust declines. The risk of population action rises.

Figure: Edelman’s Downward Spiral

    Implications for Business

If CEOs, NGOs. And government are not credible – then who are credible?

A person like me 60%

Technical expert 60%

Academic expert 60%.

Even these figures are not encouraging, 2 out of 5 people do NOT find these people credible!

‘Business plays a role in stoking societal fears’ says Edelman as people worry about losing their jobs because of lack of training ,or to foreign competitors, or to immigrants willing to work for lower wages, or because jobs are moved to offshore. Little surprise then that protectionism is on the rise.

The advice for business is clearly set out. Citizens expect that businesses should stop:

a. Paying bribes
b. Paying senior executives hundreds of times more than workers
c. Moving profits offshore
d. Overcharge for products that are necessities of life
e. Reducing costs by lowering quality …

and instead:

a. Adopt ethical business practices
b. Treat employees well
c. Pay fair share of taxes
d. Listen to customers
e. Offer high quality products / services.

There is a wealth of detail behind these statistics and while details vary from country to country what seems to be clear from Edelman’s report (which has been conducted annually since 2001) is that across the world people are crying out for leadership. And business leaders have the opportunity to provide responsible leadership. But they need to put the interests of consumers and their employees above their own personal desires.

This message is amplified by Simon Sinek in his talk “Why leaders eat last”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y

April 28, 2016

EMBEDDING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICE : A BETTER BUSINESS MODEL

This is a paper I wrote that has just been published in the Journal Of Positive Management. In this paper I set out the basis for a new research programme designed to demonstrate that by encouraging managers of small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to take a positive approach to social and environmental risks, embedding and operationalising their responses into their business strategy, they may enjoy a range of positive business benefits, as has been demonstrated by larger companies.

JPM Article

May 30, 2015

Do you have what it takes?

Do you have what it takes?

Sometimes the problems that grab the headlines just seem so far out of our reach.

There is a global food imbalance; on one side of the planet, starving millions, on the other side obese kids.

We see evidence of pollution on a global scale, resources dug up out of the ground then discarded into the ocean, rivers, and landfills, despoiling water resources and the countryside, not to mention the air.

We read of health problems in developing countries killing babies and children by the thousands.

Here in Europe we read of youth unemployment but also an ageing population often in need of special care: a demographic imbalance.

These are just some of the problems that beset our world. Sometimes these problems seem insurmountable. “What can I do?” you might ask yourself. “How can I solve the world’s food problem? How can I save the planet from pollution, or solve these health problems, or energy shortages, or youth unemployment?”

One answer might be to start using your creativity, your ingenuity, and build on what others have developed. Stand on their shoulders and use your entrepreneurial spirit to come up with your own solution. Here are a few examples of individuals who have developed innovative solutions to some of the world’s social and environmental problems. Why not follow their lead?

Food

At the age of just 15, living in Sussex, England, Tristram Stuart[1] started feeding his pigs with food waste from his school kitchen. Sale of the delicious pork that resulted augmented his pocket money. He supplemented school food scraps with waste from local stores and nearby farmers. Then he noticed that what was being dumped appeared highly nutritious. He wondered, “Could I survive on this?” and set himself a challenge to eat only food waste for a month. This he did, successfully. Thus started his interest in food waste and a global campaign to reduce food waste. While campaigning across the world he organised a number of “Feed the 5,000” events where local chefs would provide free food to the public made from food that had been discarded. Today, major supermarkets are starting to promote “ugly fruit”.

What could you do in your community?

Pollution

Nature has its own solutions to waste. Humans often shy away from maggots and cockroaches but these humble creatures near the bottom of the food chain eat up natural waste and then become food for others.

 

Vetiver is a remarkable grass that has been found to have multiple benefits, particularly in combating soil erosion, while providing useful products from its leaves and roots. The leaves are used to make thatching material for roofs and rope and an essential oil distilled from its roots is used in making perfume. Its roots also absorb substances potentially harmful to humans.

 

A cosmetic company realised it could generate a source of the essential oil for its own use and at the same time make use of its absorbent properties to clean polluted canals in Manila[2].

What natural solution can you apply to clean up the environment in your home?

Low-tech – Health

Charities donate expensive medical equipment to developing countries. Often these end up either not being used or broken after a few months because advanced technology can not be repaired: the skills needed to do it are not available within remote, rural communities. Jonathan Rosen pondered this question. He noticed that everywhere he went there seemed to be mechanics who could fix a utility vehicle – so why not make an incubator solely out of vehicle parts![3]

Low-tech – Education

Another challenge faced by communities in less developed parts of the world is the lack of electricity. It’s hard for people in remote areas to keep up with news – with limited access to electricity. And schools and teachers can be far away. So – develop a wind-up digital radio and cassette player[4]. Now remote schools can be given cassettes with educational material and people can listen to radio stations providing news – and more educational content[5].

Is there a low-tech, low-cost solution that you can apply to address a problem?

 

Youth involvement

Rockcorps gathers together young people and offers them tickets to an upcoming popular concert – in return for four hours of community work.  The principle they have uncovered is simple:

  • If you give away something for nothing – it has little value.
  • If you buy something – your enjoyment increases.
  • But if you work to earn – the pleasure derived is highest.

Now, thousands of young people have worked on community projects and earned a great experience.[6]

Do you have a creative idea to tackle the unemployment problem in your community?

Love shoes – Life shoes? No Lyf shoes!

ALY KHALIFA was getting a headache visiting a shoe factory – heat and volatile chemicals. He wondered: “Why do we need to make shoes this way – harming the health of the workers and polluting the environment?”

He then put together:

  • Very old technology: Japanese gateways built with interlocking wooden joints
  • Very new technology: 3D printing

… and came up with LYF shoes: design your own look, 3D print components, all components made from recycled and recyclable materials.[7]

What great ideas could you combine in an innovative way to tackle an environmental or social problem?

You don’t have to be a giant corporation to change the world

The technology revolution is here – you can build on knowledge in a way that previous generations couldn’t. The power of the internet gives you access to the latest technologies such as Green chemistry, Biotechnology, Alternative energy, and Nanotechnology – to name a few.

There are plenty of resources available to assist the budding entrepreneur such as Angel clubs; Incubators; Charitable grants; government and university subsidies – and Crowd funding. Investors are just looking for the next smart idea.

There is no shortage of problems in today’s world – what we need are solutions. What the world needs now is your creativity, your imagination, and your ingenuity. So – which challenge will you take? The world is waiting for your smart idea!

 

 

[1] http://www.ted.com/talks/tristram_stuart_the_global_food_waste_scandal

[2]http://www.sustainablebrands.com/digital_learning/event_video/marketing_comms/new_standard_clean_messaging_case_hana_water_billboard

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/health/16incubators.html

[4] http://www.freeplayenergy.com

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqE9vheaGZk

[6] http://www.rockcorps.com

[7] http://lyfshoes.com