While there are a thousand different definitions of the word, most will agree that sustainability essentially focuses on balancing two needs – the need for human civilization to advance economically and technologically, and the need to protect the planet and its various environments. Today, cities constantly look for ways to reduce their carbon footprints, communities are supporting local farmers who are climate-smart and countries are working to conserve their natural resources.
Many of these ventures are headed by social enterprises and continue to be successfully supported by social crowdfunding. In the past, crowdfunding has helped push many small sustainable projects off the ground in the west and is quickly becoming a trend in India as well. Entrepreneurs are slowly learning how crowdfunding works and using it to create an impact.
Sustainability and entrepreneurship: Do they go hand in hand?
A few years ago, sustainability-oriented ventures were few and far between as corporates found ventures that guaranteed economic returns more attractive. But the rising need for advancement in sustainable development is not ignored. Today, global corporates and MNCs are joining humanity’s collective effort to achieve the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. Large companies are constantly looking for ways they can make the world a better place, make their manufacturing processes environment-friendly and build a happy and safe workplace. Toronto-based Corporate Knights listed BMW as the most sustainable company of 2016, praising their innovation investments, lack of waste and efficient use of water and energy. Coca Cola, L’Oreal and Adidas are some of the companies that made it to the top 20.
Small entrepreneurs are not far behind! While the number of small entrepreneurs started rising years ago, today the stats for social enterprises are rising rapidly as well. 88% of Indian social enterprises are young, still in the pilot phase. 80% of small entrepreneurs in Canada claim to have a social purpose. Many of these are nonprofits that turn to NGO crowdfunding to encourage supporters and interested donors from around the world help them make the desired change.
Social crowdfunding and its role in sustainable development
Entrepreneurship is seen as an effective force to create positive change and this is where social crowdfunding can help propel sustainable development. You can find multiple campaigns on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Impact Guru that are look for backers to help their sustainability-oriented projects. Some of these include a campaign to fund a sustainable clothing line, manufacture sustainable footwear, provide clean drinking water to Indian villages, innovation to reduce carbon emissions and so on. Many sustainability oriented brands and projects have managed to get their feet off the ground with the support of thousands of backers that relate to their cause and happen upon their fundraiser through social media.
There are several crowdfunding platforms around the world that focus on environment-related fundraisers. Greencrowd is a Netherlands-based platform that accelerates sustainable energy projects. GreenFunder is another such crowdfunding platform, based in the US, but lets anyone from anywhere raise funds for an environment-related cause. Impact Guru, based in India, encourages nonprofit fundraisers of any kind and has seen over 500 NGOs successfully raise funds for their projects.