Shades of green
Green business is a fad. Take the weighty corporate social responsibility reports produced by corporations; more often than not they amount to nothing more than PR puff.
Then there are ‘ethical’ fashion accessories and ‘green’ mortgages. It’s tiresome to see everyone jump on the bandwagon of goodness and happily backslap each other.
Why is this so disappointing? Well, it detracts from and tarnishes by association the individuals and companies that are genuinely committed to clean technology and renewable energy. There are fantastic innovators out there who realise we’re at the early stages of an anti-industrial revolution. The changes will range from the fuels you use and the way homes are built to how electrical gadgets are powered.
The Alternative Investment Market (AIM) is always a good barometer of what new businesses are doing. As of September last year, there were 15 new flotations in the renewable energy sector, with these companies securing £490.8 million between them. This figure represents just under 10 per cent of all the cash raised at IPO on AIM during the period and easily outstrips the total of £352.1 million raised by a total of 16 renewable companies in the whole of 2005.
The dollar is green
Companies on AIM like Renesola, which produces silicon wafers for the solar power industry, and independent outfits like Simon Daniel’s Moixa (see page 16), show that saving the world and making money are no longer mutually exclusive. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to show an interest as the market for clean technology is not only going to be huge commercially, but the operational logistics of how business is done â“ who you partner with, the suppliers you use â“ is going to change.
There’s money to be had from green initiatives and, while there are evidently those who are in it for a fast buck â“ carbon credit cowboys stand up â“ those companies that think strategically about this can do exceptionally well out of it.
However, if you’re in the mood for environmental philanthropy, then take a look at Entrepreneurs with Conscience (see page 48). It’s an event that, for the first time, hooked up senior entrepreneurs with the CEOs of Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace and The Climate Group. FoE CEO Tony Juniper is refreshingly frank about what he wants from entrepreneurs. ‘Money, basically,’ he says.
At the end of the day, whoever you are, it’s always money.