How driven entrepreneurs and social enterprises create positive environmental impact?

social enterprises

As a business developer, I am often asked how I can be both a green person and an entrepreneur. With a shrug, I often reply by mentioning my values. However, I wonder if they are enough to turn my work into profit or no in real.
The world faces serious challenges today. For example, climate change, poverty, inequality are just a few of them. Our traditional business solutions might not be enough to solve these challenges as such. We need new ways of thinking and doing things. We have to look for new ideas, methods, and innovative solutions. Therefore, we need businesses with “impact” or “social enterprises”. When navigating our way through to level up the existing solutions, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are there to show us the direction.

Sustainable development goals and social enterprises

The United Nations has set the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. 193 nations have adopted them so far. There are 17 interconnected goals and 169 associated targets. They cover the economic, environmental, and social aspects of sustainability. These goals tackle problems such as poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, urbanization, environment, and social justice. If we can solve any of these challenges with our business, we can make an impact.

“Impact” in business helps society to achieve the UN 17 SDGs.  We can call businesses with “impact” as “social enterprises”. Globally social enterprises are businesses that trade for the common good. In fact, they aim for addressing social needs, strengthening communities, improving people’s lives, or protecting the environment. Social enterprises can be in many shapes and sizes, from large national ones to small community entities or international businesses. They operate most locally but in all different kinds of industries and a variety of markets. In Finland, the term may need an update for its content like some other countries. For example, the government in Scotland has a ten-year national social enterprise strategy that sets out the shared ambitions for social enterprise.

Green impacts with Fairforce

Impact driven entrepreneurs are an important part of solving global challenges. Entrepreneurs with green values build strong businesses and can make the future world a better place to be. Such efforts are not only for the sake of earning money in itself but also they are for the fulfillment of viable companies with a vision and solutions. We, the ambassadors at FairForce are here to make green impacts.  We help you to find green solutions and grow your business.

When you become aware, you become responsible

Picture of Elina Aaltolainen-HarjuojaI was born into an ordinary working-class family in the late 70s. My father was a local priest. My mother was a nurse who stayed home to take care of our family of six. Nature was part of our values and daily lives: we learned both to care for it and to enjoy it.

We filled the frost with all the superfood the Finnish forest provided us. We ate mostly vegetarian, recycled waste, mom made our clothes, and everything was repaired if skills allowed. Showers were quick, we kept the apartment cold, and we traveled abroad only once in my childhood. We did so because it was the right thing to do, and because we did not have a lot of money.

In 40 years, the world changed a lot. More money came into my life. I bought clothes from the store instead of my mother making them. Prices and quality dropped, so it was easier to throw them away than to fix them. We bought exotic fruits flown from abroad instead of picking blueberries. We flew south several times a year.

The increase in wealth changed my behavior gradually. It was not because I did not care.

I did not understand the big picture

Now, as a middle-aged family mother, I see more and more of my own mother’s behaviors in myself. I remind my children of turning off the lights and taking long showers. I push more and more vegetarian food into our everyday food. We grow salads in our backyard. We buy used clothes and our toddlers get recycled toys. Trips are to the local lakes, instead of abroad.

The reason is of course an understanding of the environmental threats we are facing. I am concerned about the future.

And at the same time, I am very aware of being lucky enough to choose. I have been trying to drop my family’s carbon footprint. And I have been wondering how to make my company greener.

But how do I know it is worth it?

I have sometimes felt like my efforts are a drop in the ocean. The same things that made my own behavior worse for the environment are going to do the same to many people.

In the upcoming decades more than a billion people will have more wealth, enough to wear cheap clothes, buy toys for their children, and trips abroad. And rightfully so, we are all entitled to comfort for us and our children! We cannot (and should not) deprive anybody of the dream of a financially better future).

The baseline is: people are going to consume. The best way to save the planet is to make sure that their consumption has a lower environmental impact. To make sure all consumption has a lower environmental impact.

We must influence where the money is spent

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a former colleague. He told me about FairForce. After the pitch, I knew this was something I believed in. And something I could help with. He invited me to join as an Ambassador to help companies that want to be greener or become green. To ensure an increase in green choices. To give every consumer the opportunity to choose a sustainable, more environmentally friendly option.

In addition, Fairforce is, as its name implies, fair. It is fair to nature, fair to people, fair to green organizations, fair to investors and fair to professionals who help the company succeed.

I was brought up with one concept about responsibility: when you become aware of a problem you become responsible for doing something about it. You are responsible for taking the first step toward the better. And even for those of us who understand the big challenge we are facing with sustainability, the right choices are not always easy to make.

That is another reason why I am happy to be part of FairForce. It is a network of competent professional people from different fields, bringing their knowledge and passion to solve something no one could do by themselves: a sustainable future for our children, our children’s children.

What will remain the same? My passion to build companies towards a healthier corporate culture. From now on, healthier will also mean greener. Do you share my passion?

Technology and digitalization, making the world greener

Picture of Teemu KiviojaMother Earth is suffering. It’s important that both companies and individuals drive sustainability and reduce carbon footprint. And technology is key for this.

Digitalization and technology define our modern times. And many of the difficulties we have with the environment have come from the use of technology. But also some of the greatest things we’ve done for the environment. And technology can be also the key driver to make our word greener, and a better place to live. And in particular, digitalization can transform the way we do business, and make our behavior as humans more sustainable.

Technology comes from big and small

Examples of technology making our world greener are already part of our daily living: renewable power sources (like windmills and solar panels), sustainable food alternatives, electric cars and so on. These solutions are often developed by big global companies. Sometimes, an individual professional may think: but what can I do?

A lot! Even small companies and individual professionals can drive the change and make a huge impact. Seemingly simple and small innovations can greatly reduce carbon footprint, and support sustainability. Every professional, considering the environment in their decisions, has an impact. Every product or service that is efficient has an impact.

Go green in & off duty

But our potential of our actions goes beyond our day-to-day decisions at work. I consider myself very close to nature. Nature has a big role in my hobbies: hiking, fishing, biking etc. It’s a key part of my life. And this fuels my focus at work. I love to develop innovative and green solutions that make our world greener and reduce carbon footprint. It means that I do what I’m best at, and contribute to what makes me happy. I can say that I support green values during my free time and in my work.

I’m proud to be part of Fairforce: I believe we can make a huge impact together.

Planet. Business. Profit. People.

Picture of Kalle LainePeople’s ethical choices do make a huge difference. Still they alone are not enough to hardwire a sustainable economic system that could save our planet, or help people and communities living on it. To change the game, we need to make use of the huge power of market economy and capital allocation.  

Ethical alone is not enough

Only very few people on Earth can survive without getting a paid job. An ethically minded individual may want to allocate a part of her time and effort to charity, but the necessity of individual survival constrains these choices – most people need a paid job to live.

In market economies, most people make their living from what companies do, directly or indirectly through taxation. Companies can create jobs and pay salaries and taxes if they make money and grow. If they don’t, they go belly up. Ethically minded companies may do great choices with an impact. But still, to survive, they always are constrained by the necessity of making money and grow.

Companies need investors. May it be an entrepreneur or a manager of a huge pensions fund, she bets her own money and sweat, or other people’s savings, in a hope of return. An ethically minded investor may allocate part of her portfolio to no-financial-return-charity, but the necessity of survival constrains her choices.

In the great play of saving our planet, there is a number of protagonists. In fact, every human being, organization and society plays a role. Want it or not. And whatever the players choose to do on the scene, every one of them is inspired by opportunities and constrained by their need of individual survival and budget – never mind their good intentions. Changing this constraint may make the difference between tragedy and comedy.

To win, green alternatives must be made a good business and investment

We can do that, and here is the how: Make green business better than alternatives as a business and investment. Better for businesses and people means it does the job for them better than alternatives do. To hardwire a sustainable economic system that can save our planet, we need to make use of the huge power of market economy and capital allocation.

Fairforce.tech is set up for this job. It is set up to help companies become green. It is set up to enable competitive green companies to start, become better, raise capital, grow and prosper. It is set up to enable profitable investment to green businesses. It builds on the idea of co-entrepreneuring and fair pay for people. So why not do it, together.

So much to do

Picture of Kalle PykäläComing from a family of entrepreneurs, I guess it was evident that one day I would become one as well. I spent 10 years with start-up’s and growth companies prior to co-founding the first private wind power company in Finland 10 years ago.

The decision was big for me in many ways. I didn’t only start a company. I moved back from Stockholm. And I started in an industry which we co-founders quite literally knew nothing about.

Humble beginnings can lead to big things

Our initial aim was to reach 300 MW of Finnish wind capacity, and we achieved that last year. Robust analysis and good old gut feeling led us on this path.

But haven’t stopped there. Quite the opposite. It makes me very proud that our company has combated climate change in so many measurable ways. One example is that we have enabled investments of some €1.5B into Finland (a good portion of that being Google’s data center).

If this isn’t a proof that humble beginnings can lead to big things, then I don’t know what is!

There is so much left to do

On my free time I spend a lot of time in nature — everyday with my working golden retriever and several times per year on my off-grid cottage in Finnish Lapland. Being an entrepreneur has also enabled me to realize my dream of buying a boat that I have always wanted to have.
And there I see how much we still have left to do. One clear example: I constantly get reminded that there is a lot that needs to be done to clean up the Baltic Sea.
I have experienced many twists and turns. I have experienced them with various companies. It would be a pity to stop here. It would be a pity not to share my knowledge with the community of Fairforce. Life is a journey, not a destination. And that journey is much more fun and rewarding together.
There is much left to do. And we can do it together in Fairforce.

I want them both

Picture of Timo SaraketoI live on a farm and experience living with nature every day. I installed solar panels on my farm. I don’t fly much. I just acquired an organic food company and I’m getting closer to nature every day. And I don’t think it’s enough. We should always be looking for ways of being a bit greener.

I’m also an investor and entrepreneur. I’m a board member of several companies, including a bank and a forest management company. I enjoy doing that. I think I add value to them. 

Both the environment and my business activities are close to my heart. And I want to be part of something that changes the way we live and do business.

Fairforce is the first serious initiative that starts to combine the two. I see this as an opportunity to participate in helping green companies or companies who are becoming greener. I can invest or work for green companies, or I can find the resources for my own companies. And I believe in paying work with shares. It’s fair. 

I like that. Fair. Fair for nature and for businesses that can operate without a need for big funding. It’s a way to have skin in the game, and that is fair for all parties involved.

Our skin is literally on the line anyway. And our grandchildren’s. And I want them to live and enjoy the same nature that I do. That’s why I take steps towards a greener world. That’s why I am a Fairforce Ambassador.

A big green momentum

Picture of Timo Erämetsä

I have been training, coaching and consulting people from start-ups, huge corporations and public organisations for 20 years. I have helped them to succeed and improve, concentrating on corporate culture, customer experience and leadership.

This has been meaningful both for me and for my clients. But.

I have been really worried about the future

About all of us, humankind. About our globe, the only one that we have. And I am still worried.

Climate Change is the One huge wicked problem for us all. For years I have felt the need to do much more, more meaningful and significant.

We have to change

I am proud and really enthusiastic to become one of the first ambassadors for Fairforce. We are building an accelerator that boosts a greener economy and businesses. We will enable green startups to prosper and make impact.

We want to create a big green momentum.

A commitment to changing towards the better, and a way to nicely set example. To show the world that all of us, decision makers in businesses and organisations, need to take environmental issues very seriously.

I am 100% committed to Fairforce’s mission, values and action. I have been waiting for this. I couldn’t do it alone, and Fairforce is the community that can make this change happen.

At the same time, I want to continue making my own small improvements concerning my own carbon footprint. Starting today. And tomorrow. And the days after that. Always a bit better. Who’s with me?

Why I am a Fairforce Ambassador

Antti KosunenIt’s a possibility to do something. Not only to talk about nature; and more than that, I don’t want to be involved with discussions if global warming is true or not. I have taken part in such discussions and I have never won one. I am on the side of nature, but not against anyone. Taking action is the best way to get something done. As simple as that. And I dream that others will follow.

I simply choose to use my skills and time with companies that support nature. Just because I can. And most of the people I know can also do the same decision. Take action. And I want to be engaged with people doing the same. Sharing the same ideology, and taking action.

The financial return is not the most important thing for me with this project. I still prefer having a fair rewarding system in place. I am very happy to receive shares as payment. I like the idea of becoming a co-entrepreneur, share the risk, but also the excitement; “maybe this is the next unicorn!”.  I also like the fact that I can sell the shares any time I wish is good. But maybe more lucrative is the possibility of using them to offset carbon.

I’m doing very similar things for a living, so why not also use my skills, and have a new “hobby” and do something that really matters?

Fairforce means an opportunity to act. That’s why I am an Ambassador.