Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – British Columbia, Canada

Finest at SeaAs 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 Canada, more specifically across British Columbia.


Rachel Goldsworthy,Coordinator, Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation,  Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria, Canada

Maple Leaf Adventures is a small ecotourism business that takes visitors from around the world into wilderness areas of Canada’s West Coast to experience the region’s rich natural and cultural history. Along with a host of other responsible-tourism attributes, Maple Leaf has respectful longstanding agreements with local First Nations that provide access and guides to their traditional territories. One of the biggest impacts of Maple Leaf tours, though, is that they give passengers a first-hand look, smell, and taste of healthy wilderness, and they invariably disembark with a zeal to protect it.

Finest at Sea is a completely integrated seafood business that owns the fishing boats, the licenses, the processing plants, retail shops and even some food service outlets. All of its products, which are sold to local and global markets, are sustainably harvested. As well, the owners believe in a sustainable workforce so they train staff to work in a variety of roles; nobody gets stuck at a filleting table all day every day, and that makes for happier, healthier employees as well as a resilient business.


Mark Giltrow, Program Head Sustainable Business Leadership Programme, British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Vancity with nearly 500 000 members is a credit union serving the metro Vancouver area. Among it’s many sustainable initiatives it has undertaken the B-hive. The B-hive allows Vancity to target the $100 million dollars a year procurement it spends on goods and services to member businesses that provide sustainable social or environmental impact to the community. By directing money to their business members as well as showcasing specific positive impacts that some of their business are engaging in, the B-Hive helps ensure the alignment of Vancity values and circulates cash flow among its members.


Stephanie Bertels, Assistant Professor, Simon Frasier University Beedle School of Business, Canada

Potluck Café Society provides healthy meals and creates jobs for people with barriers to employment living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Its highly successful catering business supports its community programs which have become a beacon for those living in the DTES. Shift Urban Cargo Delivery is Canada’s first trike delivery service. It operates as a co-op to deliver products such as office supplies, food, clothing, and even recycling to business throughout Vancouver, saving on fuel costs and GHG emissions. Shift is a participating organization in Radius, a social innovation lab and venture incubator based at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. Inner City Farms revives neglected garden space and converts lawns into beautiful and productive urban farms throughout the city of Vancouver. In 2013, it grew food for over 50 families and 6 restaurants through its Community Supported Agriculture program.


– What are your favorite local sustainable businesses? Share them in the comments area below. –




Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Germany, USA, and India

Making more health logoAs 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 examples of good practice, 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 Germany, USA, and India.

Marcus Kreikebaum at the European Business School in Germany

SAP, a large software company based in Walldorf, Germany, recently announced a partnership with a Danish social business called Specialisterne. This software “giant” plans to employ hundreds of people with autism as software specialists, as it has shown that people with autism have special competences that can be used in this labour market. The partnership with SAP allows Specialisterne to take this idea to scale.

Another example is Boehringer Ingelheim, a large pharma company in Germany that has just signed onto a three-year global initiative to improve health in communities around the world. The “Making more health” initiative promotes more health for individuals, families, and communities. Together with Ashoka, this initiative aims to identify and support the most promising solutions to challenging health problems

Dr. Jennifer Marrone, Albers School of Business and Economics, USA

Pacific Market International (PMI) is an interesting example. In addition to innovation and a commitment to excellence, PMI’s five strategic pillars include culture and people, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. PMI’s “ethically made in China” tagline is based on the implementation of their code of conduct for suppliers, which includes guidelines on labour, wages, working conditions, and health and safety.

Costco Wholesale works with farmers to increase the sustainability (for farmers, communities, animals, and the environment) of organic eggs (US), green beans (Guatemala), and limited-resource commodities such as vanilla (Uganda), cashews (Africa), cacao (Western Africa), and shrimp (Thailand).

Alaska Air Group (AAG) pioneered a satellite-based system (Required Navigation Performance), adopted at airports across the country to streamline aircraft landings. This reduces carbon emissions (up to 14 million metric tons annually). AAG’s sustainability reports conform to Global Reporting Initiative standards.

Dr. Divya Singhal, Goa Institute of Management (GIM), India

The Centre for Innovation and Business Acceleration in Verna, Goa, (a unit of Agnel Charity), appears to be doing interesting work in the field of entrepreneurship. Since 2000, they have helped establish more than 3,500 micro-enterprises. They are actively promoting entrepreneurship among rural women and youth. GIM is will collaborate with them in the coming year to help women and youth in the villages to set up new and strengthen existing micro-enterprises.

Online and connected: Creating a Sustainable Campus using Apps (Part 3) – Business Schools

Online learningIn this series of blogs focusing on using apps to help make the campus more sustainable, we have looked at a range of resources from increasing efficiency to making your travel plans more sustainable. In this last part we look specifically at the Business School and how it could benefit from exploring the potential of apps and their use in creating more sustainable campuses and more responsible leaders.

Many of the apps currently available for MBA students are aimed at helping them be better students. There are countless apps like this. AlarmClock helps them get up in time for class. GroupMe helps study groups organize a time and a place to get together to work. ITranslate has voice conversion and dictionaries for a range of languages to help students get through their language classes or speak with fellow classmates. LinkedIn app helps students network.

There are also a handful of business schools, such as Columbia Business School, who are producing new aps that help prospective students go through the application process. Other schools have apps that help students understand the range of services on campus. INSEAD has developed three apps, Life@Insead enables staff and students to find and rate information on life around the campus, INSEAD Institutional app provides information about what is happening on campus in real time and Mobile Connect is an app specifically for INSEAD Alumni.

The next step is for business schools to look at developing a range of apps that focus on enabling their particular campus to move forward in sustainability.

  • Apps that help to embed sustainability into teaching by providing a range of links, videos, papers or discussion board to start or continue discussions based on the topic.
  • Apps that brings together the range of different sustainability projects, programmes, courses, events on campus with a calendar that allows students to schedule which ones they want to take part in and make suggestions.
  • Companies such as SAP are looking at how employees can see the ecological footprint that they have at work, compare it with others at work and find ways to reduce it. Why not create something similar for students and staff on campus?
  • Apps for students to know what is happening on campus in terms of sustainability, what they can do to take part and give them the chance to provide inputs and rank sustainability initiatives.
  • Apps to share results of sustainable related research or surveys undertaken by the university in order to make them accessible to a larger audience.
  • Business schools can also look at organizing their own “hackathons” to develop apps. These are events where computer programmers and graphic designers come today for a day or a weekend to create new apps.

What apps do you use in your business school? Have you developed any apps to help drive your sustainability efforts? Share your experiences in the discussion board.

Online and connected: Creating a Sustainable Campus using Apps – (part 2)

Online learningOrganizations around the world, from business to NGOs to individuals, are creating apps for smart phones. These mobile apps enable people to connect to networks, get access to real time data, receive feedback and understand information in a visual way.

Although these apps are not focused specifically on university campuses, they are easily used in green campus initiatives. In the first part of this series we looked at apps that help reduce paper, water, energy and waste. Here we look at apps dedicated to procurement, motivation, travel and sustainable cities. To finish off, next week we’ll discuss some thoughts on what business schools can do to meet these challenges.


Go Green provides one tip a day on how to be more green. Green Me lists up to five ways you can be more environmentally friendly daily. iGrowit gives information on what vegetables are good to plant right now and gives tips on how to grow your own garden.  Everybody Walk App helps individuals develop personalized walking plans, connect with walking communities and learn the latest fitness trends.


National Green Pages in the US is a listing of thousands of businesses that have made commitments to sustainable principles. Similar apps are available in a range of other countries and communities. GoodGuide provides health, environmental and social performance ratings for a range of consumer products.  The Seafood Watch app provides recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood at your favorite restaurants and stores. Locvaore gives in season, local food options and provides links to farmer’s markets.


FleetMatics lets you track your company vehicles (cars, trucks etc.) to help control fuel costs and maximize the efficient use of your vehicles. GreenMeter computes your vehicle’s power and fuel use, and evaluates your driving to increase efficiency. Green Travel Choice allows you to see the greenhouse gas emissions that are generated by your journeys, using nine typical modes of transport, such as planes, subways and cars of various sizes. GreenGlobe App search for sustainable resorts, hotels, conference centers, attractions, tour experiences and TripSketch Green Book provides options for eco-friendly restaurants around the world. Bike Pooling is looking to make cities more bike friendly by forming “car pools” for bikers by connecting you with others who are making a similar bike commute each morning. If you have an extra room you are willing to rent to students or travellers you can post it on airbnb which will connect you with individuals looking for a room.

Sustainable Cities

Pollution provides information about local pollution sources. AirNow gives real time air quality information for wherever you are including air quality forecasts for both ozone and fine particle pollution. Ecological Urbanism provides a range of examples from around the world of urban sustainability projects.

What apps do you use in your business school? Have you developed any apps to help drive your sustainability efforts? Share your experiences in the discussion board.

Women, Responsible Leadership and the MBA (part 4): Women on campus

imagesBusiness schools around the world have taken a wide range of approaches when it comes to providing specific opportunities to promote and empower women in business. In the first blog we looked at range of resources on this topic and in the second post we looked at schools that provide a range of free certificate programmes through the 10,000 Women initiative. The third post looked at programmes being developed to empower women in the corporate world. Now, this post will consider the range of ways that schools are bringing up these issues to campus. 

Social Enterprise Week is an annual event where student clubs at the Graziadio School of Business and Management host a range of events to communicate the value of social and environmental responsibility, as well as sound ethical practices in business. During this week, the MBA Women Club, part of an international network dedicated to the advancement of business women as corporate leaders, held a panel discussion on Achieving the Feminine Triple Bottom Line.

A large number of signatory schools, such as Queen’s School of Business in Canada and London Business School in the UK, are also members of the Forte Foundation, a non profit consortium of major corporations and top business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education and opportunities. The schools provide, among other things, scholarships for women with high potential.

The Simmons School of Management has done extensive research around how gender is explored at a range of different business schools around the world. In 2012 they had an intensive, interdisciplinary student experience entitled the Simmons World Challenge where teams of students are invited to work with a small team of faculty over their winter break to develop creative solutions for major world problems.  The 2012 World Challenge theme was “At the Edge of Poverty:  Empowering Women to Change their Lives and their Worlds.” The MBA concentration in Organizational Leadership continues to have as its primary focus the success of women in organizations. As part of this, Simmons added a travel course to the UAE, including attendance and active participation in the 2012 Women as Global Leaders Conference (WAGL).

Villanova School of Business in the US has a Women in Business Advocacy Committee, dedicated to proposing measures that will enable all students to explore and understand issues that confront women as business leaders. They collaborate with the university-level Women’s Executive Leadership Program to ensure that the needs of VSB undergraduate and graduate students, VSB alumnae, and VSB corporate partners are best served.

The University of New South Wales in Australia has several programmes focused on women. The Academic Women’s Employment Strategy 2012- 2014 positions gender equity as a strategic priority for UNSW. In 2012 for the eighth consecutive year, it was recognised as an Employer of Choice for its initiatives to support and advance women in the workplace by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. Initiatives developed under UNSW’s gender equity program include the Academic Women in Leadership program, the Vice-Chancellor’s Childcare Support Fund for Women Researchers and the Career Advancement Fund. The school has an Academic Women in Leadership Program, designed for women seeking to develop leadership capability and includes themes such as authentic style, executive influence, adaptive leadership, thought leadership and one-to-one coaching. Their AGSM Women Indigenous Leaders Scholarship is provided yearly to Indigenous women entering the Women in Leadership Programme.

Women, Responsible Leadership and the MBA (part 3): Empowering Women

imagesBusiness schools around the world have taken a wide range of approaches when it comes to providing specific opportunities to promote and empower women in business. In the first blog we looked at a range of resources on this topic, while in the second we looked at schools that provide free certificate programmes through the 10,000 Women initiative. Here we look at a range of other approaches being taken to empower women in the corporate world.

Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands has an initiative called Women Empowerment which encourages women to empower other women in business networks and high-performance environments. These activities were designed to address the specific challenges that women face when climbing the corporate ladder – a subject of great interest to project initiator and RSM Associate Dean of MBA programmes, Dr. Dianne Bevelander, who has actively researched the subject. In 2011, also based on this research, the school offered an elective called Mount Kilimanjaro Women Empowering Women. Fifteen women from the MBA programmes joined the course which involved going to Mount Kilimanjaro and focused on developing a greater understanding of how to work with other women in high performance environments.

In a bid to encourage more women to join the science, innovation and technology sectors and raise the profile of women currently in the industry, Newcastle University Business School in the UK launched an initiative called “North East of England Role Model Platform for Innovative Women.” The scheme, which has been established to help women overcome personal and professional barriers to success in the science, innovation and technology sectors, was initiated following research carried out by Professor Pooran Wynarczyk of Newcastle University Business School’s Small Enterprise Research Unit that showed that women were massively under represented in certain sectors, namely, in science, technology and innovation.

Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business is focused on helping women reach their full potential in the workplace and helping corporations engage the full potential of talented women leaders. Among other things they organize Best Practices Forums to engage critical thought-leaders and business professionals around the world to provide solutions for helping businesses harness the full potential of talented women leaders within their organizations and incorporating a culture of inclusion.

University of St. Gallen in Switzerland has put together a Management Certificate  called Women Back to Business, which helps women returning from an absence re-enter the job market in managerial positions. The programme is in collaboration with the Executive School of Management, Technology and Law together with Swiss and international companies. It is a one-year training program which includes career coaching, skill training, reflection workshops and practical experience in a company, public organization or NGO.


If you would like to share your initiatives around this topic in future posts please contact me.


Women, Responsible Leadership and the MBA (part 2): Entrepreneurship and 10,000 Women

 UnknownThe last blog focused on Women, Responsible Leadership and the MBA by looking at the range of initiatives and resources available on this topic. Now, the second part considers the growth in training programmes specifically focused on women entrepreneurs.

Specifically, we look at PRME signatories involved in the 10,000 Women project started by Goldman Sachs. The project is a five-year global initiative designed to help grow local economies and bring about greater shared prosperity by providing 10,000 underserved women entrepreneurs with business and management education, access to mentors and networks and links to capital. The project is currently operating in 43 different locations around the world and partners with local schools to develop and provide entrepreneurial training. Participating schools offer free certificate programmes for women around entrepreneurship which often also includes mentorship and networking opportunities.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Center of The American University in Cairo has created The 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership Certificate Programs (WEL) for Egypt. The Center works to narrow the gender gap by supporting a pool of talented women entrepreneurs and leaders to become active contributors to the economic vitality of their communities. Over 303 entrepreneurs have been trained since 2008.

In Brazil, Fundação Dom Cabral offers, in partnership with INSEAD, a  Entrepreneurial Women Programme certificate, which covers strategy, finance, marketing, people, logistics and business plan development. Since 2009, there have been twelve classes for women to develop competencies and skills that entrepreneurs need to make their businesses grow. This year, over 200 women have signed up for the next programme. Also in Brazil, Fundação Getulio Vargas offers a similar certificate, while their website provides an overview of the different businesses run by women who have gone through the certificate programme.

In the US, Babson College was been working to unlock the growth and job-creation potential of small businesses across the United States by providing greater access to business education, mentors and networks, and financial capital. Delivered through community college partners at select sites across the US, participating business owners must have a minimum of four employees, been in business for at least two years and post annual revenues of between $150,000 and $4,000,000.

In Peru, the Universidad del Pacifico is also involved in training women entrepreneurs. Because Peru has a well-developed microfinance network, the programme uses these networks for recruiting purposes and offers alumni access to a range of finance options to help them grow their business.

In South Africa, University of Cape Town launched the Raymond Ackerman Academy 10,000 Women program which targets two social issues, increasing unemployment as well as the large and quickly growing youth population. The programme gives students the skills to help them pursue careers, further their studies or start their own business and is open to both women and men. University of Pretoria has a certificate programme for women which takes place for 16 days spread over 4 months and includes 6 months of mentorship, 6 months of community-based women entrepreneur dialogues and ongoing networking events.

In China, Tsinghua University has partnered with Yale to create the Yale-Tsinghua Certificate in Healthcare Management. The program aims to help female Chinese healthcare managers and officials attain knowledge, skills and networks necessary for continued growth in healthcare careers. The programme is looking to train around 500 female Chinese healthcare managers and officials.

In India, the Indian School of Business’ Women’s Entrepreneurs Certificate Programme has had over 550 women entrepreneurs who have successful completed the programme across Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. They also provide a system of mentorship both online and offline.

There are also a large number of signatory schools that have entrepreneurship programmes focused on women which are not part of the 10,000 Women initiative. International Business School in Lithuania in 2010 implemented a project “Promoting Entrepreneurship among Women in Georgia in the Context of Integration into the European Union.” The project was designed to contribute to Georgia’s economic and social development and programs. Promoting women’s entrepreneurship is seen as a preventive measure to reduce women’s unemployment and poverty levels as well as to contribute to one of the strategic goals of the Millennium Development project.

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