Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Germany, Nigeria and Costa Rica

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 21.21.37As businesses become more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they repeatedly hear the same examples from the same international companies.

In an attempt to share some new examples of good practise, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that are actively involved in sustainability. Below are some examples from the Germany, Nigeria, and Costa Rica.

Andre Habisch, Ingolstadt School of Management, Germany

Baumax is a chain of DIY superstores that started in Austria and recently spread around the whole of Eastern Europe. Mr. Essl, son of the founder of the family firm and current CEO of the company, is a devout Protestant entrepreneur. When more than 20 years ago, an employee had an accident and remained handicapped, it seemed that he could no longer work for the company. However, the Essl family owners decided to keep that employee on board and initiate the necessary changes in the building to allow access for his wheelchair. With that act of solidarity, the “Humanprogramm” started within the company. Today, every Baumax store has a fixed partner organisation working with handicapped people. These receive regular jobs from the company. Moreover, at least once a month, handicapped people from the partner organisation are also invited to work in the stores as sales assistants.

Kemi Ogunyemi, Lagos Business School, Nigeria

The Nigerian Association for Women’s Advancement (NAWA) is an NGO that runs several projects, including the Lagoon Secondary School. They give scholarships to poor girls and provide free tuition to prepare them to win the scholarships. They also give free classes to adult women who have missed their chance to enter into the formal education system because of having to join the workforce early. Bi-Allianz Co. Ltd sells Save80 stoves and ‘Kookbags’ that use greener energy than other household alternatives. These also free up time for mothers and are less threatening to their families’ health. Kadick Integrated Ltd do brilliant work developing their employees and act as a training ground from which these people can develop skills and experience and then freely choose to stay with the company, move on to others, or to run their own businesses.

Lawrence Pratt, INCAE, Costa Rica

Florida Ice and Farm is a food and beverage company that has become a triple bottom line company and is an innovative leader in sustainability. Because of the importance of nature-oriented tourism in Costa Rica, tourism operations that are only “OK” in their environmental and social performance would be considered far and away the leaders in most countries. A couple examples include Finca Rose Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn and Villa Blanca. Much of this sustainability approach in tourism was consolidated and advanced through CST, arguably the world’s best tourism sustainability certification programme.


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