COP26: enterprise, communities and climate change: the mobilisation of ideas
Entrepreneurship can be just as much about responding to pressing challenges as it is about creating wealth. At the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, our research shows how responsible entrepreneurship can change behaviours to reduce carbon usage within those communities most affected by climate change. We believe this offers a model for harnessing the latent power of all communities to take ownership of the climate challenge.
Our entrepreneurs are working within local communities across the UK to reduce food waste, shop locally and remove fast fashion purchasing. In Nottingham, this has led to the creation of a student-founded social supermarket called Foodprint, focussed on reducing waste while providing low-cost food in the community, while internationally, the entrepreneurs are helping rural farmers in China to introduce sustainable agriculture and tourism and providing remote communities in Kenya with sustainable water. Our research therefore considers how responsible entrepreneurship can address environmental challenges within communities most affected by climate change.
We show individuals how to engage in entrepreneurship through more inclusive, challenge-based initiatives, where diverse ideas can be deployed to address environmental challenges in addition to wealth creation. This encourages responsible entrepreneurship, where global issues are explored, and innovative solutions created together.
We work with students and individuals who typically don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs and involve them in the design, delivery and evaluation of training, mentoring and inspirational events that will help them to address the seemingly intractable environmental challenges they face. By capturing how innovation really works within under-explored areas such as disadvantaged communities, we can design, deploy and enhance interventions to develop entrepreneurial skills more effectively within those communities.
"There needs to be a greater emphasis on understanding how climate change manifests within disadvantaged communities and to help those communities to engage in the process of entrepreneurship to address environmental challenges."
The ingenuity process
Our research shows how entrepreneurship is not the exclusive preserve of a select few but a way of working that can be learnt by anyone. We outline how by defining challenges, discovering and delivering new approaches, individuals from any background can create sustainable ventures. We call this ‘the Ingenuity process’ and we show that this is most effective when deployed within diverse teams working in disenfranchised communities together with the public and private sectors.
Through the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES), we have built a community of over 5000 academic researchers as they have learnt how to create sustainable ventures over the last 25 years. Similarly, we have followed over 2000 students over the last decade as they worked with volunteers from corporate, public and third sector organisations to create social ventures.
Student entrepreneurs have reported a combined turnover of over £83m in 2019 since taking part in our responsible entrepreneurship events. Newer online Ingenuity events have proven particularly effective at engaging communities experiencing racial inequality and the use of Ingenuity online has given a greater voice to those individuals that are typically marginalised or excluded from decision making.
Foodprint: tackling food inequalities and reducing emissions
The value of our research in supporting ventures to address global environmental challenges in a local, sustainable way was articulated by Foodprint, a cross-faculty team who founded Nottingham’s first social supermarket and surplus food redistribution network in 2017. Foodprint are a social enterprise started by students, acting as an intermediary between supermarkets, wholesalers, charities and the people of Nottingham to redistribute food. They also sell surplus at a greatly reduced price through their low-cost social supermarket in the city. The Haydn Green Institute’s Ingenuity programme enabled Foodprint to launch their supermarket, and become a financially independent, stable organisation. Currently, 700 people use the service each week and they have saved the equivalent of 132,921kg of CO2 by taking on food that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Our work shows that there needs to be a greater emphasis on understanding how climate change manifests within disadvantaged communities and to help those communities to engage in the process of entrepreneurship to address environmental challenges in an effective, profitable and scalable way. Policy makers can help by developing ways to empower local communities to mobilise entrepreneurship and take charge of their own emission reductions.
COP26: the greatest challenge of our time
Read more success stories from the Ingenuity Programme
Read about the latest winners of our Ingenuity Impact Awards
Read about our work with communities in rural China
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