A green economy can be described as one that results in financial profitability, in benefit to our individual well-being and in reduced risk to the environment. Today, organizations such as Accenture, Coca-Cola, Ford, Marriott and Wal-Mart serve as leaders in the green economy by making environmental responsibility or "sustainability" an integral part of their business strategies. These companies strive to achieve interaction among financial, social and environmental risks and opportunities across their value chains; and are collaborating with value chain participants to develop environmentally responsible innovations.
Dr. Leonard Greenhalgh, Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College was one of the speakers at the 2011 Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference (MED Week 2011). In his presentation entitled Strategy for Growth in the Green Economy, Greenhalgh shared his insights on how getting involved in the green economy would be a profitable strategy for minority businesses. According to Dr. Greenhalgh, being able to identify how sustainability opportunities and risks travel through the extended value chain will help owners of minority businesses to investigate those issues or areas where the financial impact aligns with environmental priority.
Sustainable business models are based upon the need or desire to reduce, or find substitutes for resources such as energy and water. This effort creates a powerful driver for developing innovative products and operating models. The Coca-Cola Company, for example, is intensely focused on water stewardship. Water is the main ingredient in their products and is also an important part of their manufacturing processes. As a result, the company focuses its efforts on water stewardship in three areas: improving water efficiency; recycling water used in their operations (wastewater treatment); and on community access to water including watershed restoration and protection.
Water, together with the other natural resources are essential to the operations of businesses; and innovative companies like Coca-Cola have developed solutions for achieving more sustainable management of these critical supplies. These companies have acted expeditiously on sustainability issues and have accelerated beyond their peers.
Some companies may not consider water to be a sustainability issue or a financial risk. However, the World Bank estimates that of the approximately seven billion people in the world, as many as two billion people lack adequate facilities that would protect them from water-borne diseases; while one billion lack access to clean water altogether. The United Nations also projected that the world population will surpass nine billion by 2050. This growth in the population and the anticipated increase in pollution could easily create a situation where access to clean water may be significantly limited.
Minority owned businesses can succeed in the green economy by following and collaborating with leaders - Accenture, Coca-Cola, Ford, Marriott and Wal-Mart. Companies that develop sustainability strategies to identify and maximize opportunities in the green economy will undoubtedly enhance revenue and strengthen brand value.
Click on the image below and watch Dr. Greenhalgh share his insights on this issue.
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