EN | HR | ES | IT | HU | SK

RESTART Resilience and Training for SMEs

Sustainable, social and green entrepreneurship
Feedback submited
Rate our course:
Feedback form    |       Play Audio    |   Download:    |   

Did you know that in 2022 we have exhausted all the natural resources that nature is able to provide us already on July 28th? ...which means we needed the resources of 1.75 planets Earth to meet our needs in 2022...does that sound right?


Sustainable approach for MSMEs

Sustainable approach for MSMEsClick to read  

What do you imagine by being sustainable?

How would you describe the meaning of sustainability to your friend?

What is the sustainable approach your company applies?

Answer the questions and watch this video to check your knowledge about the sustainable development

Sustainable concerns in global development got attention in the mid-last century. Read about several milestones related to the issue of sustainable development regarding the creation of an international framework for further direction:

1972 United Nations Conference on the Environment was the first world conference on the environment in Stockholm also known as the Stockholm Conference. It represents the international beginning of a dialogue between developed and developing countries about the link between environmental issues (mainly pollution of water and air), economic growth, and the well-being of people. Moreover, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) was created.

1992 - The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro also as an occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference (1972) focused on the human socio-economic impact on the environment. UNCED or the „Earth Summit“ recognized that: the concept of sustainable development was an achievable goal for all people; to meet the human needs for sustaining life on Earth is vital to balancing economic, social, and environmental concerns - for such integration, a new perception of consumption and production, the way we work, live, and make decisions is significant.

2015 Summit on Sustainable Development was held at the UN Headquarters in New York where the Agenda 2030 including 17 sustainable development goals was formally approved. Two months later, Paris Agreement was signed and ratified by 187 parties at COP21 in Paris.

2022 Stockholm+50 international meeting took place after fifty years since the 1972 Stockholm Conference and was determined to accelerate the goals of Agenda 2030. Read the key recommendations for accelerating action towards a healthy planet for the prosperity of all.

Sustainability in the context of MSMEs Click to read  

Sustainability in business refers to
  • doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole (Spiliakos, 2018);
  • a company's strategy and actions to eliminate the adverse environmental and social impacts caused by business operations (IBM).

Why act sustainably?
  • Unresponsible business behavior leads to many inequalities such as environmental degradation or social injustice
  • Consequences of global population rise, threats of climate change, and dwindling natural resources are evident and can not be ignored
  • The aim of being sustainable is to make a positive impact on at least one area (environment and society) which must be incorporated into the company’s unique vision and strategy
  • Considering any sustainable goal and strategy in a company’s business requires perceiving its impact on the triple bottom line – profit, people, and planet
  • Not all so-called “green solutions” are truly “green” and not all sustainable measures are necessarily costly

The Earth doesn’t produce unlimited natural resources. On the contrary, we live in a truncated world of resources called planetary boundaries that must be respected to avoid environmental, social, and economic consequences.

Watch the video about planetary boundaries and their current state here.

Operational implications for MSMEs Click to read  

Be aware of your company’s impact on the environment and society that foregoes sustainable solutions thus its strategy and goals. Don’t forget that setting goals for your company must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound – SMART

  • Does our company use sustainable materials in the manufacturing process?
  • Can our company rely on renewable energy sources?
  • How much waste does our company generate?
  • Are there any funds for supporting sustainable implications in a country?
  • Can our company sponsor or support any educational funds or vulnerable communities?
  • Is there any tool that helps measure a company’s carbon footprint?
  • Does our company hire diverse job candidates?
  • Does our company consciously reduce the amount of energy consumed?
  • Has our company approached circular economy principles?

Considerations of sustainable operational implications you can apply within your company include:

  1. Energy efficiency: avoid wasting paper such as printing emails; turn off devices you don’t use; unplug electronics when not in use; ensure thermostats are set on the desired temperature; during washing dishes turn off the water; select electric devices with lower energy consumption or devices in a higher energy category (such as LED bulbs); lower degrees on your water heater; turn off AC or heating system when opening windows; educate your staff.
  2. Supply chain management: Supply chain management: 1. analyze your supply chain (environmental, social, and economic issues); 2. apply social, environmental, and financial responsibility and circular supply chain features; 3. engage suppliers by putting sustainable issues in your regular business conversation or find a supplier with, e.g. ISO 14001 certification or similar you can incorporate into your business operations.
  3. Waste management: use both sides of paper when you need to copy; recycle all waste types that can be sorted – try a challenge or competition for your employees such as collecting old toothbrushes for a reward; prefer reuse approach – donate or sell electronics, furniture, clothing, etc. for those in need or a secondhand store; reduce or compost your food waste if possible.
  4. Sustainable procurement: is closely related to building a sustainable supply chain through sustainable purchasing, resulting in higher customer loyalty, positive impact on the environment, and reduce risk of non-compliance with legislation. Tips: 1. Purchase ethically sourced products (see ecolabels in Europe) & 2. Buy local goods to boost the local economy.
  5. Community engagement: 1. even in a current time of social networking, bear in mind the importance of physical interaction with your clients and employees; 2. support your employee's activities in engaging with the local organizations; 3. use the potential of social media to interact with customers and to get their feedback; 4. be open and transparent by communicating your decisions (even future decisions) to your customers to get them in the loop of your business; 5. your company’s, employee’s, and community’s values should be aligned; 6. be passionate about listening and learning about your community to build strong relationships; 7. if you don’t know about community initiatives, visit your municipality website or simply ask your customers and employees how your company can get involved.

Check the Sustainable trends for MSMEs for 2023 by Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

Micro, Small, and Medium-sized enterprises may struggle with the initial investment or lack of knowledge when it comes to the real implementation of sustainable practice... However, to think about sustainability in business you must consider all its three pillars: social, environmental, and economic. Watch this video and learn how you can create a sustainable impact through your business operations by using Sustainable Business Model Canvas.



Foundations for social entrepreneurship

Foundations for social entrepreneurshipClick to read  

Social entrepreneurship is a way to sustainably solve societal challenges!

According to the European Commission:

There are 2.8 million social enterprises, representing 10% of all businesses in the EU.

Almost 13.6 million people – about 6.2% of the EU’s employees – work for social enterprises.

On top of the paid workforce, the social economy mobilizes volunteers, equivalent to 5.5 million full-time workers.

Based on the numbers, we can see that social entrepreneurship has a big potential to grow. The actual disadvantage is very low public exposure and recognition.

Let´s learn more about what social entrepreneurship is and what added value could your business gain with this approach!

Source: Business Jargons, read more about social entrepreneurship here.

How is social entrepreneurship different?Click to read  

In general, entrepreneurship is based on profit maximization and this profit can be divided among the owners. Social enterprise can operate in any field and generates profit as any other business - the difference is how the profit is used!

The profit is reinvested and fulfills a clear social mission that positively impacts a community!

Social enterprises reinvest a certain share of their profit based on the relevant national law – e.g. Social enterprises in Slovakia put more than 50% of the profit back into the organization to expand and improve their services and activities that they carry out in order to fulfill their socially beneficial goals.


Social enterprises vs. profit-maximizing business and non-profit organisations:

Source: Building Social Business Models: Lessons from the Grameen Experience Muhammad Yunus, Bertrand Moingeon and Laurence Lehmann-Ortega


Often, in the eyes of the public, social entrepreneurship is mainly associated with the integration of disadvantaged people.

BUT social missions can support the community’s well-being in many other fields than job creation and social inclusion of vulnerable groups, for example, cultural needs, healthcare, environmental protection, etc. 

For a better picture of the answer to the question „What is Social Entrepreneurship?“ watch the video created by Cluster for Eco-Social Innovation and Development CEDRA Split.

Check examples of successful social enterprises and social innovation projects in selected countries described in the Handbook on Social Innovation prepared by experts from Slovakia or good practices identified within the project BRESE, Interreg Europe.

Social entrepreneurship vs. Corporate social responsibility (CSR)Click to read  

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public.

A socially responsible company voluntarily carries out activities that contribute, for example, to the protection of the environment or the development of the community, (they release employees to perform volunteer activities, financially support cultural events, etc.) - BUT its primary goal is still the creation of profit!

While the primary goal of a social enterprise is the fulfillment of the social mission, the creation of social benefits, and a positive impact on the community.

Social mission in MSMEs Click to read  


  • Added value of the social enterprise is created by implementing social change.
  • Support from the target community, volunteers can also be involved in the organization's activities.
  • It is estimated that partnering with and supporting social entrepreneurs could have a positive impact on the lives of nearly 1 billion people.
  • Growing support from the European Commission - the European Commission prepared Action Plan to boost the social economy and create jobs.



  • Not forgetting about the entrepreneurial spirit within the social enterprises. Profit is needed for the company’s growth and social impact maximization.
  • Effective communication of the identified social problem and solutions that the social enterprise is offering to increase public exposure and recognition of social enterprises.
  • To get the trust of others.
Green entrepreneurship

Green entrepreneurshipClick to read  

Green entrepreneurship is a subset of sustainable entrepreneurship that addresses mainly environmental concerns but also social change through its products, services, and operations while generating profit. Green entrepreneurs are thus entrepreneurs who work towards the elimination of negative impact on the environment, by:

  • reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation;
  • improvement of energy efficiency and investment in renewable energy resources;
  • protection and restoration of natural ecosystems;
  • production and consumption of environmentally friendly products and materials.
What is green entrepreneurship and its principles Click to read  

To make an impact, green entrepreneurs must communicate information about their sustainable activities and inform all stakeholders about it. However, this is preceded by the specific set of goals and the correct selection of tools to measure progress (such as monitoring the environmental impact of production operations and products during the whole lifecycle). Additionally, successful green entrepreneurship is desirable for the customers’ swift of their consumption to be more consciousness one. 

Set goals

Inform about your pledges

Monitor goals

Share the progress

Educate your customers


How to boost the idea of green entrepreneurship in your business?

Watch the successful story of green entrepreneurship and get inspired by the natural ecosystem of the Earth: Click here

Take note that green entrepreneurship is based on making a real positive impact on the environment and society around us. It’s not about the greenwashing practices!