This article was contributed by Dimitar Hristov of FCC partner KISMC 

This article was created during the development of one of the annexes of the Investment & Sustainability Handbook (CU Handbook), which is the first instrument of the ‘Collective Innovation to Fight Climate Change’ Project. The key idea for the development of this handbook was to focus on providing well-structured and easy to digest systematic guidance tailored to the needs of educators (mentors) that support green entrepreneurs. Green entrepreneur is a social entrepreneur that usually makes business with a mission to “save the planet”.

So, the handbook is planned to assist the educators with common and specific components on climate change & SDGs which they can pick and choose to add to their training, coaching, teaching or mentoring sessions to transfer their gained knowledge to these entrepreneurs. In the handbook, as well as in the whole project the educator is defined as an individual, who acts professionally as a mentor, coach, trainer, consultant, or other professional who works with entrepreneurs to facilitate the entrepreneurial journey or the development and growth journey of his/her enterprise.

This component of the handbook is to pay the attention of the readers on proper training modules and to present well-known tools, techniques and games and gamification elements the use of which is recommended to the educators.

1.Private sector and entrepreneurship are a key factor for green transition

The thesis on which this project is based is that smart technologies in the hands of knowledgeable and capable entrepreneurs with a green mission are a powerful tool for achieving the effect of the UN Sustainability Goals and the private sector and entrepreneurship are a key factor for green transition. Therefore, it is considered that the role of mentors of “green entrepreneurs” plays an important role in achieving the necessary level of knowledge and skills of them.

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 USD 62 trillion 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.

Under these conditions, our claim made a year ago within another project  i2sustainIT, appeared to be true that with the enhancing the importance of private business and green entrepreneurship there is an increasing role of social entrepreneurship mentors for achieving more efficient impact on solving the social and environmental challenges in the world.

2. Upgrading educators with additional training modules

What kind of upskilling the mentors would be needed?

In order to offer appropriate standardized upskilling, the mentors whose target group is so called green entrepreneurs and / or eco-friendly companies we have to know well their characteristics.  Although they are entrepreneurs, they refer to a special subset that uses a certain business model to create and implement solutions to environmental problems and promote social change, so that the environment is not harmed.

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 the green entrepreneurs and the general profile of the professional business mentors we had many discussions on what content of training the mentors would be appropriate, offered as a comprehensive curriculum or in separate elective courses.

Our finding was that we need at least two additional groups of training modules designed for educators/mentors, on the basis of which they can upgrade their standard skills and knowledge they have in the field of entrepreneurship.

The first group includes 3 modules, directly related to the green entrepreneurship:

  • Module 1: Fundamentals of green entrepreneurship, including: 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.
  • Module 2: The specificity of the approach to green entrepreneurship, including: 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.
  • Module 3. Design thinking for green entrepreneurship, including: 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 green challenges and SDGs.

The second group includes 5 modules that concern the basics of the Inclusive Green Economy, topics that in our opinion, the mentors should be acquainted with and be trained to use as good practices:

  • Module 4: Understanding the rationale for advancing an inclusive green economy;
  • Module 5: Instruments for structural change;
  • Module 6: Key sectors with high greening potential,
  • Module 7: Strategies and planning for reaching policy objectives;
  • Module 8: Existing international frameworks;
  • Module 9: International initiatives to support an inclusive green economy.