Green Social Enterprises - Why should We Care?
Green Social Enterprises are organizations with a social conscience that focus specifically on helping to tackle the climate crisis. Their main aims are to create products, campaigns or services that help to reverse the rate of climate change.
Even as recently as ten years ago, the environment and the impact that our actions were having on the planet were much further down the political agenda than they are now. Statistics about rising temperatures intermittently made headlines and you’d be hard-pressed to come up with the name of a famous climate activist.
Fast-forward to 2023 and the picture is very different. Millions of people are involved in climate activism to some degree, whether it’s through going on protest marches and campaigning on environmental issues or educating themselves on how to make more sustainable choices. We’re more conscious than ever about how the food we eat impacts the planet, if we are buying things from ethical sources and if we’re voting for someone who will take tackling climate change seriously.
This growth in engagement with environmental issues runs parallel to the ever-growing urgency to address the climate crisis. Devastating and irreversible damage has already been wrought and without immediate action from individuals and governments, the planet’s temperature will rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels; a threshold which could present disastrous consequences.
Social entrepreneurs have recognised that they can play a significant role in raising awareness of the impacts of climate change, while also actively helping to address climate issues. In this blog, we’ll look at what green social enterprises are and how they are helping to change the world for the better.
What are green social enterprises?
Social enterprises cover all areas of philanthropy and social good. While every social issue an enterprise seeks to solve is important, climate change is arguably become the one issue that has united communities and countries in action across the world.
Green social enterprises are organisations with a social conscience that focus specifically on helping to tackle the climate crisis. This could be a business that has seen that an everyday product uses a lot of non-recyclable plastics so decides to make a sustainable alternative. Or a business that aims to clear up rivers to protect fisheries that have been damaged by toxins and sewage.
Whether they’re formed off the back of a personal experience of the founder or created out of frustration with the inaction of governments and big businesses, green social enterprises main aims are to create products, campaigns or services that make help to reverse the rate of climate change.
Why are green social enterprises needed?
We are at a crucial stage in the fight against climate change. Although numerous countries have signed up to climate targets and pledged to take action to meet their climate commitments, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a lack of urgency in how countries are going about it.
Last year, oil companies published record profits at a time when the world is facing economic and humanitarian crisis. Rather than curtailing the spread of companies which exacerbate the climate crisis, governments across the world seem to have taken little action to stop the reliance on resources like fossil fuels. Climate pledges that were made at the recent COP are not legally binding so it’s unclear what, if any, repercussions there would be for not meeting climate agreements.
Apathy from world leaders means that individuals have to take addressing the climate crisis into their own hands. As well as protesting, creating petitions that hold governments to account and making ethical consumer choices, creating a business that helps to address climate change is one of the most proactive ways of positively impacting the planet.
Although starting a social enterprise takes a lot of energy and commitment, there’s never been more of a need for innovative social entrepreneurs who want to tackle the climate crisis.
How green social enterprises are combatting the climate crisis?
Social enterprises have the ability to hone in on solving a single problem that’s part of a wider social issue. It’s how they can have a specific and targeting impact that makes a difference to the lives of people who are affected.
For example, one of our 2022 finalists, Marie-Claire Kuja set up a social enterprise called Kuja Ecopads. Traditional sanitary products can’t be recycled and are made up of plastics that take years to break down. More sustainable sanitary products tend to be expensive and require a much bigger upfront cost than other sanitary products. Kuja Ecopads provides sustainable sanitary products that are both inexpensive and are created for communities in Cameroon that are on lower incomes.
There are amazing examples of social entrepreneurs setting up businesses in all areas of climate change. From mobilizing people to clear polluting plastics from the oceans to creating lasting products to replace single-use plastics there’s no shortage of businesses popping up all the time whose mission it is to help create a kinder planet.
The climate crisis often seems bleak. News reports often warn of the irreversible impacts already wrought on the planet and the inaction of governments can make it feel like the organisations that have the power to make the biggest changes are the least interested in changing. However, the amount of new green social enterprises that are being set up and backed by big business is a reason to feel hopeful. Increasingly people are actively voicing that they care about how their actions impact the environment and as a result, are more likely to buy something from or listen to someone who has set up a social enterprise.
We’re constantly being warned that in order to beat back the worst impacts of climate change, we need to act now. Green Social Enterprises are some of the best examples of urgent climate change action and while the number of green social entrepreneurs keeps growing, the more reasons we have to feel hopeful about our planet’s future.