As businesses become more and 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 often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.
In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, 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. Here are some examples from Canada and Nigeria:
Oreva Agajere, Lagos Business School, Nigeria
Wecyclers is a social enterprise in Lagos Nigeria with an interesting business model for combating pollution and encouraging recycling. Wecyclers offers convenient household recycling service using a fleet of low-cost cargo bikes. They are powering social change using the environment by allowing people in low-income communities to capture value from their waste.
Adcem Healthcare is an indigenous technology and innovation driven healthcare company which builds kidney dialysis centres in public and private hospitals in Nigeria. Adcem also supports the hospitals in running the centres effectively. They have created a unique niche in Nigeria’s health sector by innovatively leveraged partnerships with private organisations to bring healthcare services to those who ordinarily cannot afford it.
Doreo Partner’s Babban Gona is an impact investment firm focused on early stage businesses that improve the livelihoods of Nigerian smallholder farmers. Their farmers’ initiative ‘Babban Gona’ (“Great Farm” in Hausa language) is an agricultural franchise that enables hardworking smallholder farmers reach their full potential by providing end-to-end services that optimise yields and labor productivity, while simultaneously improving market access.
Frank Ulbrich, University of the Fraser Valley, Canada
Net Zero waste is committed to closing the loop on the food cycle. They have a unique system for utilising the organic waste produced in households and commercial operations, transforming this nutrient rich material into supercharged soil for use for gardens and farms. As food waste is such a huge problem in North America, finding local companies who are taking action, while limiting the amount of pollution released in the conversion process, is worthy of note.
EcoDairy is an authentic farm experience that simultaneously showcases innovations in dairy sustainability and efficiency. As agriculture is a major cornerstone of the economy in the Fraser Valley, it is important for these organisations to also do everything they can to embrace sustainable practices. EcoDairy is phenomenal in that not only are they inspiring young minds to develop an active interest in farming, but also in innovation for the food and agriculture industry and other facets of science and technology.
Nature’s Path Foods is a local organic, fair trade and non-GMO food producer with products ranging from cereal to grains and granola bars. They are also the largest independent manufacturer of organic breakfast and snack foods in North America. They have signed the Sustainable Food Trade Association’s declaration of sustainability and work to keep their customers healthy as well as their business operations. Their social responsibility includes accomplishments such as: diverting 92% of their waste from landfills, and keeping 204,000 lbs of chemical pesticides out of the soil. Nature’s Path Foods was named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers in 2015.
Dr. Wendy Cukier , Ryerson University, Canada
Magnet is an online career matching platform currently serving 90,000 job seekers and over 9,000 employers that helps to combat discrimination in hiring processes through skills-based employment connections. The platform allows job seekers to privately and securely self-identify as a member of any employment equity group, promoting diversity and supporting bias-free recruitment strategies.
Starbucks Canada has partnered with Hire Immigrants on a refugee employment initiative that will recruit, train and retain 1,000 refugee employees through its local community networks in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. This initiative sends a strong message to other employers of the value of diversity to their company and the importance of building bridges for successful refugee resettlement.
Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC) uses income from social innovations to reduce its reliance on government grants and increase the sustainability of its local economic and social development in downtown Toronto. SCCC’s innovative initiatives include Business Out of the Box (BoB), which uses shipping containers to provide affordable commercial spaces to low income and newcomer business owners; and Aquaponics 707, which uses closed-loop urban farming systems to train and employ under-educated youths in new urban farming technology while selling affordable organic fish and produce.