This article was contributed by Dimitar Hristov of FCC partner KISMC

This article will focus – based on experience – on what training modules and what content may be useful for the “typical” professional mentors of entrepreneurs with “green mission”.

Private sector and entrepreneurship is key factor for the Green transition

The conclusions made within the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) were that the capital needed to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development worldwide amounts to USD 5-7 trillion a year. Given the scale of capital needed, it is of vital importance to implement market mechanisms to reflect the potential benefits of sustainable investments and attract interest from potential investors. The international community has made clear that the private sector – including financial institutions – plays a fundamental role in the realization of the 2030 Agenda and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement in the years to come. It is also stated that more than 240 banks, insurers and investors with some 62 trillion USD in assets are committed to integrating sustainability into operations as members of UNEP FI. In addition, 78% of over 22,000 investors worldwide surveyed for Schroders’ 2017 Global Investor Study claimed they now place more emphasis on sustainability than they did five years before. 64% indicated that they have increased their allocations to sustainable funds over the same period.

As a result, the global green market grew from USD 11.3 billion in 2013 to USD 183 billion in 2018. The dynamic growth in sustainable finance is, however, limited by a general lack of understanding of what sustainable investing is and the benefits it can achieve in comparison to traditional investments. Providing relevant stakeholders in governments, the financial sector and businesses with better information and expertise on the topic can enhance the chances of bringing sustainable finance into the mainstream.

Another project with much of FCC’s project consortium called i2sustainIT proved that the enhancing importance of private business and green entrepreneurship creates an increasing role for social entrepreneurship mentors, who aim to achieve an efficient impact on solving the social and environmental challenges in the world. Through entrepreneurship and green technologies towards a more sustainable world – that is our motivation in this project.

What kind of upskilling the mentors would be needed?

In order to offer appropriate standardised upskilling to mentors whose target group is so called green entrepreneurs and/or eco-friendly companies, we have to know their characteristics well. Although they are entrepreneurs, they refer to a special subset that use certain a business model to create and implement solutions to environmental problems and promote social change so that the environment is not harmed. A green entrepreneur is a person that establishes and develops green or eco-friendly companies that may provide the clients diverse products and services starting from businesses that make reusable plastic bottles, eco-friendly cleaning companies, businesses that install solar panels, a local recycling business, and many other potential ventures. Having in mind this profile of green entrepreneur and the general profile of the professional business mentors we had many discussions on what training content would be appropriate for the mentors, offered as a comprehensive curriculum or in separate elective courses.

Our finding was that we will need at least the two following groups of training modules.

The first group incudes modules directly related to green entrepreneurship:

  • Fundamentals of green entrepreneurship: identifying the key features of green entrepreneurship; differentiating between green, social and traditional entrepreneurship; identifying the key motivations of green entrepreneurs; describing the importance of green entrepreneurships in relation to consumers, communities and societies; measuring impact on the achievement of the SDGs.
  • The specificity of the approach to green entrepreneurship: “green market” and its segmentation; developing the end user profile based on shared green values, calculating the potential of the total addressable market; defining the customer experience directly related to the green product or services; quantifying the unique value the green entrepreneur brings to its target customer; mapping the process of acquiring end users; identifying, developing and testing the green business model; determining the way of overcoming the common obstacles in getting its product/service adopted by customers;.
  • Design thinking for green entrepreneurship: identifying the key stages of design thinking related to green entrepreneurship; understanding the role of design thinking in green innovation; using the design thinking to generate solutions for a green challenges and SDGs.

The second group includes modules that concern the basics of the Inclusive Green Economy, topics that the mentors should be acquainted with and be trained to use as good practices:

  • understanding the rationale for advancing an inclusive green economy,
  • the instruments for structural change,
  • key sectors with high greening potential,
  • strategies and planning for reaching policy objectives,
  • existing international frameworks and
  • initiatives to support an inclusive green economy;