New Green Business Network in Ottawa
A newly launched Ottawa network of environmental businesses is aiming to educate consumers while helping local green entrepreneurs share their strengths.
The Sustainable Enterprise Alliance hopes to "attract local businesses that either have a strong sense of environmental stewardship, or would like to know more about how they can benefit from greening their business," said Prasanna Siva, one of the network's organizers.
"Businesses that have joined so far are the pioneers in each of their categories," said Siva. (The Alliance's webpage lists founding members.) "Each has expertise in one particular area, and by sharing their knowledge with the other businesses we hope to improve multiple areas of each business."
Siva is a graduate of Algonquin College's Green Business Management program. After learning about business networks that follow the BALLE model (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, see www.livingeconomies.org), Siva was inspired to help create something similar in Ottawa.
"Ottawa is good in some sense for retail because we have an affluent, educated population," Siva said of the local green-business scene. Yet retail is concentrated in most of our town, through big box stores. "Through a green business network, we hope to spawn many new businesses to help diversify the local economy," Siva said.
Without such alliances to foster green consumer understanding, "we find that customers do not understand the benefits of the service or product beyond monetary benefits," said Siva. "They are essentially following the old bottom line of profits."
Yet a truer environmental picture emerges if consumers instead focus on the triple bottom line of people (social benefits), planet (environmental benefits) and profit (in the case of consumers, finding a product that is good "bang for the buck"). The Sustainable Enterprise Alliance may help shift more Ottawans to this three-pronged line of decision-making.
The Alliance "will educate consumers on the benefits of and how to choose locally grown produce, locally made products and environmentally responsible products," Siva said. "A consumer is more likely to choose a local business when he or she knows that that business is being a responsible community citizen by reducing their environmental footprint."
Businesses can use some schooling, too, Siva added: "We will educate our member businesses, and hope to reduce each business's operating costs through various targeted initiatives."
To date, the Sustainable Enterprise Alliance is in the start-up stage, with about 10 members and a steering committee. Early meetings have been held to address logistics and administration.
The first event hosted by the Sustainable Enterprise Alliance will be a kick-off lunch on June 3rd, 2010 from 11:30am - 1:30pm. Registration is available on the SEA website. In addition, businesses can join the network by paying a Founding Member fee of $100, which gives them access to the June kick-off event and monthly eco- preneurship workshops in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Centre. Members will also be profiled on the alliance website and will be given a free on-line listing in the National Capital Green Pages directory.
If you run a business and are interested in joining, and to find out about planned monthly meetings and quarterly special events, please visit the group's website at www.
By Adrian Larose