GGE Ep 9: Masterclass: Creating Sustainable Revenue in a Social Enterprise

Click the link to go to the now famous blog post: "23 Questions to Ask Yourself if You're Not Generating Enough Money with Your Social Enterprise."

Today's guest Solene Pignet wrote a great blog post, "23 Questions to Ask Yourself if You're Not Generating Enough Money with Your Social Enterprise."

I'll be the first to admit the title doesn't roll off the tongue very easily, but it is impactful.

It was so interesting we decided to do an entire show on the concept. Don't worry, we'll also get into Solene's story on how she jumped ship from the corporate grind to start and run her own social enterprise.

Kusikuy Clothing

GGE Ep 6: - Kusikuy Clothing with Tamara Stenn

Dr. Tamara Stenn is quite an entrepreneur. By age 25 she already had her a successful advertising firm. She gave that up to go into the Peace Corps. Then came back home and started a business while getting her masters degree.

While owning the business, she got her Ph.D. and taught economics and entrepreneurship.

Now, she is restarting another socially conscious business, Kusikuy. 

Good Body Products Does It Good

GGE: Ep 2 - Good Body Products does it Good

We put so much attention on what goes into our body and yet so little to what goes on it.

Good Body Products in Guilford Vermont has built an amazing business that uses only locally grown ingredients to create wonderful items that go on your body.

Just as importantly the business provides a great life for the founders, a wonderful couple, and thier family. Listen to Trish Thomas tell how she and her husband Chris balance work, life and family.

Volvo Meets Ten Year Goal In One Year

Saves $10 Million on 850K Energy Investment

Energy reduction is not as difficult as we initially believe it will be. Our mental models are a bigger problem than getting it done.

As part of the part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Save Energy Now LEADER Initiative, Volvo Truck's New River Valley plant set a 10 year goal to reduce energy intensity by 25% over ten years.

Not only did they exceed the target in a just one year, but they did it in a way that pays huge financial dividends.

The investment in energy efficiency cost about $850,000 and will save approximately $2 million per year according to the Department of Energy. Assuming a very conservative 5 year lifespan of the improvements they will see a total of $10 million in savings over that period. That is an annualized ROI of 215% and a total project ROI of 1,077%. Those are numbers any CFO can be happy with.

According an blog post "The NRV plant also initiated a contest to promote employee engagement in identifying and suggesting ways for the facility to improve its energy efficiency. From late 2009 to early 2010, the implementation of employee-suggested projects saved the NRV plant more than 546,543 kilowatt hours per month, which translates to approximately $33,000 in monthly cost savings."

Significant energy risk and cost reduction are closer than you think. The sooner we take off the blinders of our embedded mental models the sooner we can start enjoying the benefits.

Sustainable Companies Stocks Outperform the Competition

Companies striving for sustainable outcomes outperform their competition in nearly every financial measure. And most importantly in this case, stock performance. Canadian publisher Corporate Knights recently published its 8th annual list of "100 Most Sustainable Companies." According to the Corporate Knights Global 100 website:

The graph below measures the monthly total return of the Global 100 and the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) in USD from February 1, 2005 to November 30, 2011.  Over this period, the Global 100 returned 42.54% compared to 29.52% for the MSCI ACWI.


There are a host of activities and decisions that lead to a company becoming more sustainable. They are embedded in the culture and the inner workings of every organization on this path. However, a commitment to long term thinking and a passion for efficiency are critical. The same tools that are used in quality management systems and Lean Six Sigma are the ones that are used in achieving greater sustainability.

In the end, sustainability is about eliminating waste (whether that is wasted human potential or wasted natural resources) while meeting all stakeholder needs and expectations. By being ever more efficient in meeting needs we eliminate waste as a by product. If we combine that discipline with an eye towards sustainability, the two are a killer combination.

Better products, better communities, better planet, and better financial performance.

To see a great summary of the index you can read an excellent article by journalist Marc Gunther here. To see a how the number one ranked company, Novo Nordisk achieved such great results go here.

To see the entire methodology and listing, go to the website of the Global 100 Index here:

High ROI on Sustainability

Again, proof by the biggest capitalists that sustainability pays big ROI.

Bloomberg just produced its third sustainability report. This is the first one to be made public.

My favorite highlight is that for every $1 spent on sustainability they have seen $2 in savings in operating costs, which goes directly to the bottom line profit.

Bloomberg is reporting using the Global Reporting Initiative standard. I congratulate them on their transparency as a leader in the business community.

According to the website "Sustainability combines corporate citizenship, risk management and strategic opportunity – driving our operating costs down, our revenues up, and influencing wider adoption of sustainable practices across the business community."

I don't care what school of business you went to, costs down and revenues up is a good thing.

To see the full report go here:

Eric Lowitt, Author of "The Future of Value"

Cover for The Future of ValueIn today's podcast we hear a great story from Eric Lowitt about how he is following his dreams and helping move sustainability forward in the business sector. I can't wait to get my hands on his new book "The Future of Value" when it comes out in late September. Eric has a passion for sustainability that is unstoppable. He also has that rare set of business experience and real world school of hard knocks that makes his story great. We'll hear what seperates his book from the others and what his clients are doing to become more sustainable.

Eric has done what so many entrepreneurs would love to do. He has taken his passion, written a book, and is now out there doing the work he loves. It is good for his customers, good for the economy and good for Eric. A true win-win-win. Best of all, he is just a great personable guy.

Please pardon the poor editing and less than perfect sound quality. I was trying some new equipment. Regardless, the content is top notch.

The Paradox of Power in Sustainability

As a society we often say terms like "business wants (fill in the blank here)." Saying "business" wants one thing is like saying all Italian-Americans want one thing or all men want the same thing. There are lots of businesses with lots of leaders who see the world through all kinds of lenses. Over the last few weeks I have felt more hopeful than ever as I work with large corporations on sustainability that they are making great strides to put sustainability and environmental management systems in place. The pressure to do this is coming from two places primarily.

  1. Investor requirements that companies disclose emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and thereby show their potential financial risk associated with climate change.
  2. Large OEM's and retailers like Walmart, IBM, Proctor and Gamble, Nike and a slew of others are requiring their suppliers to implement environmental management systems and report to the CDP.

Standards like the Electronics Industry Citizens Coalition - Code of Conduct (EICC-CoC) and the Walmart Sustainability Scorecard are deep in their requirements and if they get implemented with some real teeth will do far more than any other government program could.

Then, on the way home I listen to the news. I see that some of the largest and most powerful corporations are still using short term thinking and their deep pockets to push lawmakers into setting up policies that may help a quarterly report but continually put us behind the rest of the world in clean economy of the future.

In his excellent article "The Paradox of Corporate Power" author Jo Confino wrestles with the paradox that the most powerful in the world (the rich corporations) are simultaniously doing more than anyone to help and hurt the cause of sustainability. In the end it feels like he finishes optimistic, at least that's how I like to see.

See the full article here:


Podcast, Rick Heede, Climate Mitigation Services

Rick Heede is the founder and principal of Climate Mitigation Services. He has studied climate change since the early-1970s and has worked on energy and climate solutions since 1984. He worked with Armory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute from 1984 through 2002 on issues ranging from energy policy, energy-saving office equipment, home energy measures and “Climate Neutral by 2020” for Oberlin College.

Along with his work at Climate Mitigation Services Rick is working on a book on the global risks of Antarctica’s climate-sensitive ice sheets.

Today's podcast is a little more technical than most, but if you enjoy a detailed talk on getting climate change done, this is a good one to hear.