Sri Lanka is facing a multitude of environmental concerns resulting from pollution of water and soil caused by excessive use of agro chemicals, disposal of non-degradable items such as plastic polythene to water ways and soil, illegal felling of trees, mining of sand in river beds etc.
Already, the country has been ranked as the 5th largest polluter of plastic to the ocean in 2010 with 1.59 million metric tons dumped into the oceans every year.
Addressing environmental concerns cannot be delegated to the state alone, and cannot be addressed with a one size fits all approach either. A long term strategic sustainable approach is required to address environmental concerns.
A group often forgotten in the discourses on environmental sustainability is the entrepreneurs who turn environmental concerns to business ventures. At present, there are many such early startup businesses that focus on using recycled plastic, paper and polythene, and few organisations engaged in down cycling e waste. However, such business ventures often do not have adequate support in terms of accessing raw material, finance, technology and access to markets.
The aim of the Green Business Accelerator Programme is to support social entrepreneurs interested in starting up businesses that address environmental issues. The inauguration of the programme will be held at the Centre for Housing Planning and Building on the 18th of May at 9.30a.m followed by a two-day boot camp.
Representatives from Central Environmental Authority, National Enterprise Development Authority, National Cleaner Production Centre, representatives from private sector recycling companies and financial institutions such as Lanka Impact Investors Network and representatives from academic institutions will share experiences and provide expert insights to the participating entrepreneurs. The participating entrepreneurs will showcase their business ideas and products and services to the panel and audience.
Green Business Accelerator Programme is spread across a six month period. During this period the participants will be provided personalized business coaching, mentoring, specialized training and other business support needed to start and grow successful business ventures. Already 12 ‘green entrepreneurs’ have been selected for the programme. The eligibility criteria for selection were:
Idea stage, start-ups and early stage (less than 3 years) ‘small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). and community organisations looking to diversify and to become sustainable through income generating activities
Have clear environmental objectives (i.e. solving an environmental problem through a commercial activity).
Commitment and dedication to be part of the programme.
The programme includes a mix of classroom training, field-training, peer-to-peer learning, talks by external resource persons and successful social entrepreneurs, and exposure visits.
At the start of the programme, with the guidance of dedicated business adviser / coach, each incubatee will carry out a self-diagnostic assessment and then will prepare a personal / business development which will be closely monitored during the programme.
In the incubator programme, each entrepreneur will receive services such as residential and classroom-based training, exposure visits, tailored on-site individual coaching and advice by business advisers, experts and mentors, telephone and ‘in person’ business advice and guidance by LSV staff, coaches and mentors and inspirational talks by prominent entrepreneurs and guest speakers during residential and day sessions.