A Business Case for Sustainable Development

By: Fatema Fatakdawala

Sustainable Development or SD is slowly becoming the key driver of innovation.

Contrary to popular belief, SD is one of those things that not only brings value to your firm but can be highly cost effective to incorporate if properly planned from the very beginning. The application(s) of SD can be used as a competitive advantage for startups whose competition is an incumbent that would have to undertake enormous costs to make their business model sustainable.

So what is SD? The textbook definition says the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In other words, SD is the intersection of the Environment, the Economy and the Society. In the past, SD reports were created by corporations that were in the business of mining, forestry, and utilities to name a few. Today, with the increasing world population which creates an unmet demand for scarce resources, every company is emphasizing on the so-called Triple Bottom Line.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is another term that is used interchangeably with SD. As an early stage company, this is the best time to engage in activities around SD. So as an entrepreneur, you may ask, why bother? Here is the simple answer:

SD makes a good business model: Harvard Research has proven that SD-based business models lower costs since firms end up reducing the inputs they use while providing an economic value add (EVA). That is, the SD process generates additional revenues from better products or enables companies to create new businesses.

In fact, as the long term goals of corporate innovators turn to sustainability, enterprises have to go through five stages of change with different challenges at each stage. On the other hand, early movers for whom sustainability will become in-built in their expansion and development, will have an outshining competitive advantage that rivals will find very difficult to match.

Fatema joins the RIC team as the Communications Officer responsible for marketing, social media, event and web management. She is a graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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