Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Canada, South Africa and the UK

As 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 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, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Georgina Gough, UWE Bristol, UK

Triodos Bank is a global pioneer in sustainable banking, using the power of finance to support projects that benefit people and the planet. They act as a sustainable service provider, have a range of innovative banking products and also aim to stimulate and lead public debate on issues including quality of life, social and environmental development and sustainable banking.

Bordeaux Quay is an award-winning restaurant and cookery school founded and run as a sustainable enterprise. They are focused on buying local, seasonal, organic, using ethically sourced ingredients, reducing consumption of fossil fuels and agrichemicals. Their building also represents their sustainability focus: a repurposed docks warehouse, with the restaurant reusing as many original materials as possible.

Resource Futures is a national organisation founded in Bristol enhancing practice in resource utilisation and supporting the move to a circular economy.

Low Carbon SW is a trade organisation covering Southwest England supporting the business development of the regional low carbon sector.

Eunomia is a highly-respected Bristol based environment and sustainability consultancy.


Aunnie Patton Power, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Zoona is a mobile money operator that is facilitating money transfers in Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi and planning to grow to additional markets.  They are employing thousands of young women as tellers in their Zoona booths and lowering the cost to send, save and soon borrow money in Africa.

AllLife Insurance offers affordable life insurance and disability cover for HIV-positive and diabetic people in South Africa. Their model essentially took a segment of the population that insurers saw as a liability and built a business model around providing value for individuals and helping them improve their lives.  They work closely with their patients to ensure they have longer life expectancies and maintain healthy lifestyles.  They’ve been so successful they are expanding up to the UK.

GreenCape is a special purpose vehicle, which was established by the Western Cape Government to support businesses and investors in the green economy by removing barriers to establishment and growth. They also support local, provincial and national government efforts to build a resilient green economy.  As a quasi-governmental entity, Green Cape has been able to facilitate deals, growth and opportunities in the green space in the Western Cape.


Georgia Atkin, Sobey School of Business, Canada

Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company, has been doing impressive work in the area of green buildings: in 2015, TELUS opened its new LEED Platinum certified head office, the TELUS Garden. The TELUS Garden uses solar panels to generate 65,000 kWh annually, and utilizes a District Energy System to recover waste energy from neighbouring buildings, reducing reliance on conventional energy sources by 80 per cent.

Stantec, an international design and consultation company, has some great ongoing sustainability initiatives. Alongside donating funds to community arts, education, health, and environmental projects, the company also holds an annual ‘Stantec in the Community Day’, where company employees are encouraged to volunteer their time at community initiatives. In 2016, 8000 Stantec employees contributed 16,000 hours of volunteer work at 250 locations.

Nova Scotia designer Tabitha Osler recently launched a company called Faire Child, which is preparing to manufacture sustainably-made waterproof outerwear for children. Her products promise to be innovative in their low environmental impact: the clothing uses a polyester fabric made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, and every piece of clothing is designed to be recycled again at the end of its lifespan.


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