World Environmental Day is celebrated worldwide on 5 June. Whilst it is a United Nations day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment, the impact on business is entirely linked.A better environment means a better tomorrow and who better to get insight from than Retail Capital’s Journey of Business winner, Songo Didiza.
Songo built her business through aligning the public and private sector with government green economic strategies. Since she founded Green Building Design Group (GreenBDG), they have assisted large multinationals on their broad-based environmental empowerment strategies.Her enthusiasm and dedication to the planet, our country and the SME sector is inspiring and these are her top ten tips on creating a sustainable business:
1. Define what sustainability means to you and your business. Once this is clear to you, share this vision with your suppliers and customers.
2. Sustainability works if the top management has fully bought into it. Operations will follow this ideal if the vision is well adopted.
3. Know the environment laws that impact your industry and operations. New legislation such as the Carbon Tax will impact a majority of large businesses in South Africa. SMEs often participate in these supply chains and if your business is not aligned with these laws then it will impact your business negatively.
4. Know your own carbon footprint – share this with your clients. Your footprint indirectly impacts theirs (see tip 3).
5. Always study the global sustainability trends and make sure your company has a dedicated sustainability champion to keep you abreast on these, even if you are a small team.
6. Energy Efficiency is the best fuel – by lowering your utility bill you lower your operating costs and sustain your business operations as the country continues to face electricity supply challenges.
7. Source from local suppliers where possible. It not only reduces your carbon footprint but also your operating costs.
8. Look to go beyond “green conscious” at operational level, by exploring ways on how to introduce new services and products that are eco-friendly. This will increase your competitive advantage!
9. Publish the sustainability wins on your social media platforms – no matter how small. It helps improve team morale and overall staff confidence when interacting with external stakeholders such as potential customers.
10. Make the sustainability journey a fun experience!
Since 2011, we have provided businesses with innovative, flexible and convenient alternatives to traditional business loans. Business owners still identify access to working capital as the single biggest challenge that they are faced with. Being responsible for 50% of the country’s GDP and contributing to over 65% of employment, we are devoted to partnering with small to medium-sized businesses to grow the South African economy. This is where we can help and we are proud to have partnered with more than 5000 SMEs in providing funding of more than R1.25 billion to date.