Social Good Startup: Em{Power} Energy Group

Second in the series of Startups for Good Challenge

Em{Power} Energy Group, was one of the eight finalists to Startups for Good Challenge, hosted by the good guys of Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation.

In this interview I talked with Ryan Integlia and Nasir Uddin, who are Executive Director and Vice President of the organization, respectively. We talked about the business they are in and challenges facing such organization.

Em[Power] Energy is in the business of helping landfill communities, people who are living close or near landfills – around the world.

Their mission is to “revitalize waste scavenging communities throughout the world using a modular and scalable cooperative development based on renewable resources.” In layman’s term, they will help these communities to improve their living conditions by converting organic waste and waste water into electricity, compost and have them take charge of the business – once all said and done.

Unless you come from developing world, you probably not accustomed to see people living near, at or very close to the big dumpster. We don’t see them around here anymore. But, in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mexico, Indonesia, India – they are coexist – with today’s modern world.

Continue reading “Social Good Startup: Em{Power} Energy Group”

Social Good Startup: Kopernik

kopernik dlight solar lanternKopernik is one of the 8 finalists to Startups Good Challenge that was held about a month ago, sponsored by the good guys at Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation. I tried to reach out to all of the finalists, however, only 5 responded – with one left the event early, before I had the chance to interview the founder.

The criteria:

“Startups that are building or using technology to make a positive impact on the world will compete for a chance to present at the Social Good Summit and win a $10,000 cash prize for their company.”

So this is the first social good organizations out of four (that I was able to have conversations with) that will be featured here. The lineup: Kopernik, Empower Energy, Simple Energy and the winner of this competition – a 19-yo kid, Sun Saluter.

In this interview, I talked with Toshi Nakamura, the co-founder of Kopernik, a social enterprise who’s also a member of Clinton Global Initiative. Toshi and I shares one thing in common: Indonesia. Oh well, his organization is based in Indonesia, and I was lifted from there. That’s about it.

The problem that they’re trying to solve is in the distribution of life-changing technology to the last mile in the developing country (read: the poorest). Think of this business as the online store for innovative technologies, i.e. technology like what you see from the picture above showing d.light lantern, which is one of the products available from their store.

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South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress

President Barack Obama and Republic of Korea Lee Myung Bak         photo: Pete Souza – White House

Did Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid give hint to South Korean President to speak about green economy to members of congress? The President of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who is on a state visit to Washington this week – his speech seems to hit the chord at today’s Joint Session of Congress.

At the session, Lee Myung Bak talks about his country’s emergence to join the economic powerhouses of the world. Transforming itself from one of the poorest to the most dynamic economy. Think about for a sec. You probably know some of the household names here via technology or car, brands like Kia, Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Those brands originated from Korea and branched out from there.

So. Korea is a small country, with only 48 million people in comparison to the U.S. with 312+ million in population. This is a country that have no natural resources and yet managed to become global top 10 economic power!

It’s very impressive, when you think about how they achieved that position – in just one generation. Why? Because, they prioritized education.  Continue reading “South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress”

DuPont Packaging Awards Show Sustainability Drives Innovation

DuPont made the announcement of the winners for their 23rd packaging awards yesterday. DuPont packaging awards dates back to 1986. “The awards is the industry’s longest running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.”

And welcome to social media! Because I learned about it via @DuPont_ability (their witter account for their sustainability news) and the winners was announced through a global webcast.

DuPont made the announcement of the winners for their 23rd packaging awards yesterday. DuPont packaging awards dates back to 1986. “The awards is the industry’s longest running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.”

And welcome to social media! Because I learned about it via @DuPont_ability (their witter account for their sustainability news) and the winners was announced through a global webcast.

Continue reading “DuPont Packaging Awards Show Sustainability Drives Innovation”

5 Population Trends that can either Disrupt or Transform Your Business (and Career)

The 7 billion questions. According to National Geographic, by the end of 2011 our population growth will reach 7 billion. What are the consequences for the shift in population? How does population growth have an impact on business and career development? This is something that we all need to think about the implications of, as we witness the shifting of population growth and economic clout from developed to developing nations.

You might not realize that big corporations have ‘quietly’ building their presence at places, where they see having the most potential to grow in the emerging markets. Because they see that emerging markets is the place to go to maintain their growth.

The 7 billion questions. According to National Geographic, by the end of 2011 our population growth will reach 7 billion. What are the consequences for the shift in population? How does population growth have an impact on business and career development? This is something that we all need to think about the implications of, as we witness the shifting of population growth and economic clout from developed to developing nations.

You might not realize that big corporations have ‘quietly’ building their presence at places, where they see having the most potential to grow in the emerging markets. Because they see that emerging markets is the place to go to maintain their growth.

Continue reading “5 Population Trends that can either Disrupt or Transform Your Business (and Career)”

4 Ways the Cleaning Product Industry Measured Sustainability and Lessons Learned

The American Cleaning Institute (formerly soap and detergent Association) recently published its first, 2011 Sustainability Report. Didn’t know much about the organization and the work they do. So I interview Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Communication and Membership, for Ecotwist.

In our conversation, we chat about variety of topics related to the industry’s sustainability efforts. We also touched on the history of the organization, lessons learned, product/design/packaging innovation, consumer education and outreach. (We’ll talk more about their consumer education and outreach in another post. Their programs deserve an in-depth look).

According to Brian, the Soap and Detergent Association became “The American Cleaning Institute,” in 2010. Because they want to expand their reach to include ingredient suppliers. In short, ACI is a trade industry association representing producers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products, their ingredients and finished packaging, oleochemical producers and chemical distributors to the cleaning product industry.

Many of us might not know that this organization was founded in 1926. They’ve been working on advancing public understanding of the safety and benefits of cleaning products, and protecting the the ability of its members to formulate products that best meet consumer needs – since then. In fact, sustainability has already been at the core (of the Institute) long before “the term” became popular and corporate social responsibility was invented.

In addition, ACI do a lot of work on regulatory, technical, advocacy and outreach work.

Some the household names members, include Amway, BASF, the Clorox Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Unilever, SC Johnson, Seventh Generation and more.

Sustainability metrics

ACI realized as there are more groups of people, government interested on how industries operate sustainability, they realized as an organization they needed to put a spotlight on what their industry is doing on sustainability front. Many of the members have been putting up their sustainability operations in and around the companies.

So in 2009, ACI and its members started a pilot project to report on a common set of sustainability-related metrics relevant to the industry for both its consumer packaged goods and raw material supplier members.

Over the course of three years, 20 companies supply data that includes not only companies that make the end products (detergent, household cleaning products) but also companies that supply them with cleaning agents (chemical, enzymes, fragances) – the supply chain. They worked with Environmental Resources Management to device an initial system so companies can track metrics in four different areas that are associated with the U.S. production of cleaning products.

The project was an initial effort to see how they’re doing and to develop some ways for companies large and small to be able to track this kind of data. It was not an easy thing to do because a lot of companies produce and supply products besides cleaning products. So they have to separate out data – just data associated with cleaning products. It was a learning process.

The cleaning product industry measured its sustainability efforts in 4 different areas:

1. Energy use (electricity, steam, and on-site operations).

2. Greenhouse gas emission (CO2 equivalent) from all sources owned or controlled by the company.

3. Water use and conservation.

4. Waste generation.

1. Energy use

The energy metric data includes electricity use, generated offsite; purchase steam use, coal use, kerosene use, fuel oil use, gasoline use, natural gas (liquid and gas form) use, biogas/ landfill gas used as fuel, other ‘green’ energy sources, and energy use from distribution.

Energy_used_aci_related_productions_1

>> Result: The total energy use (in gigajoules) for participating members decreased from ’07 to ’09 by approximately 18% per ton of production.

2. Greenhouse gas emissions

Member companies reported on greenhouse gas emissions from all sources owned or controlled by the company, including indirect GHG emissions resulting from the off-site generation of purchased electricity, heat or steam; on-site generation of electricity, heat or steam; other combustion process; physical or chemical processing; venting and fugitive emissions.

Greenhouse_gas_emissions_aci_csr

>> Result: The greenhouse gas emissions for participating members also decreased by 25% in ’07 to ’09.

3. Water use and conservation

Water is one of the key resources used across in the full-cycle of production from the water used upstream for raw material production to the manufacturing process to consumers when they use their products. The water metric tracks not only the water amount use but also water saved through conservation measures.

The water use data includes: water in product, purchased water, withdrawn from wells, surface water at plants, collected rain water, gray or reused water, steam.

Water_use_aci_related_csr

>> Result: Water use decreased by 10% for participating members from ’07 to ’09.

4. Waste generation

Members of the Institute generates both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The waste metric tracks the amount of solid waste generated, reused, recycled and disposed by each company.

Solid_waste_aci_related_csr

>> Result: Waste generation decreased between ’08 and ’09, but increased by approximately by 2% from ’07 to ’09.

Lessons learned

Learning is part of the process, afterall sustainability is a journey:

– The data helps them understand industry’s environmental performance and the effectiveness of the policies that these companies have in place as well as other programs and their manufacturing process.

– Overtime as companies look to see where the trend is going for their particular line of business, they would put new practices or improved practices in place so they can certainly cut down on energy use and water use.

– For companies during this time of economic challenge the past couple of years, that’s a big expense when you’re paying for fuel, energy to keep the processes moving to formulate products.

– Companies are taking a number of different steps to decrease energy use, make it more efficient that varies per company depending on what they make.

– More and more companies are looking at the practices certainly to get to a point because they are responsible to their stakeholders, customers and employees to put all of these processes in place, make sure that they’re safe and effective as possible.

Innovation.. in the process 

In many cases, through R&D innovation, companies tested and put out products that require less water. For example, liquid laundry detergent. If you go a store right now, you’ll find that liquid laundry detergent are all concentrated. By concentrating and compacting this liquid laundry detergent, consumers could still wash the same number of loads, but the package doesn’t need to be as big. For companies, they don’t need as many fleet of trucks to deliver to the store. So it saves money on transportation. Less packaging means you’re not using much water anymore. And less space needed at the retail level.

You can listen to the full interview here.

Enjoy!

Check Out Environment Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Dewita Soeharjono on BlogTalkRadio

Continue reading “4 Ways the Cleaning Product Industry Measured Sustainability and Lessons Learned”

20 Global Trends that can Have an Impact on Your Business

Whether you run a small, midsize or large company, some of the trends will have an impact on how you do business. The question is – how ready is your business?

“We are actually within the next 5 years that I would call the great transformation,” says Daniel Burrus, a futurist, in an interview with Dr. Maira Gunn of IT Conversations.

This is not something that you should be afraid of. Instead it should challenge you! It’s about how you manage risks, especially risks that you have no control of. And see how these challenges can actually help redefine your business via innovation.

So here we go.

1. Population growth

The world’s population is pushing 7 billion (6.914 billion) by end of 2011. Asia accounts for more than 60% of the world’s population with more than 4 billion people. China and India make up about 37% of the world’s population. The U.S. is third most populous countries in the world with 308,745,538 people, according to Census 2010.

2. Technology

Four things that can impact your business: internet, mobile technologies, smart phones, and social appsonomics.

3. The world is increasingly urban

The world’s is 50.5% urban. In the U.S. 22 of the 30 fastest growing metropolitan areas are located in the fifteen most populous states, according to City Mayors. Twenty-four out of 27 megacities in the world (cities with more than 10M people) by end of 2011, are cities located outside the U.S.

4. Water scarcity

Closest to home. One-third of all counties in the lower 48 – will face higher risks of water shortages, according to NRDC study. A new report by U.S. government finds that major rivers such as Rio Grande and Colorado could see reductions in flow up to 20 percent. Water is among top 5 environmental issues that are important to business.

5. The use of social media in the world

Facebook has a global audience more than 500 million users, which is bigger than some “real” countries in the world. In 2010, Twitter added 100 million new users. According to Pew, 73% of adult profile users use Facebook, 48% have profile on MySpace and 14% use LinkedIn.

6. Supply chain

The supply chain is so interconnected globally, if something happened in one place it can affect productions in other places. Take for example in the case of Japan’s impact for the world’s major industries after tsunami and earthquake. Toyota have to adjust their May production in North America, because of parts availability after the natural disaster.

7. Climate legislations

A recent study by the Graham Institute of Climate Change found a growing commitment for climate legislations in 16 major countries.

8. Reverse innovation

Reverse innovation is innovation adopted from emerging markets, first. Companies are developing products in third world countries before they bring them to the U.S. Emerging markets been the catalyst of growth that you see in the telecom industries. The concept of prepaid was unheard of before. Now Virgin, Boost, Cricket, AT&T are in the business of offering – prepaid phone services.

9. Demographics change

In the world, the average age: 28. Han Chinese ethic group represents about 19% of the global population. In the U.S., Hispanics is the fastest growing population. The recent 2010 Census counted 50.5 million Hispanics making up 16.3% of the population, which is up from 35.3 million in 2000. This segment of the population grew over 43% in the decade.

10. The rise of value-concious shoppers

This is the silver lining of global recession. 91% of respondents from 53 countries surveyed by Nielsen (registration req.), said that they’d continue to buy private label products. More than half of Americans (55%) said that purchased more private label brands during recession and 94% said that they’d continue buy private labels even after economic improves.

11. The business of helping the poor

In economic term, this is often referred to as base-of-the-pyramid. They are the largest and the poorest in world’s socio-economic group. In scale, 4 billion people in the world living on $1 per day! C.K. Prahalad says, that “corporate sustainability and inclusive growth of poor people in the global market will become inextricably linked.” Already there’s movement in saving the poor and making profit at the same time.

12. People power

Egypt. The rise of social consumers, social commerce. It’s more likely that people would listen to their friends’ opinion than brands.

14. Government regulations

15. Rising energy prices

16. Biodiversity, the pricing of nature

Biodiversity matters more to business execs than climate change, according to a survey by McKinsey. 59% of respondents viewed biodiversity as more of an opportunity than a risk for their companies. The United Nations is pushing to put price on nature.

17. Crowdsourcing

Wisdom of the crowd. You can crowdsource just about anything. Netflix $1M prize for creating better algorithm for recommending films. Kiva, is crowdsourcing microloans. Procter and Gamble, Nike, Starbucks, Dell, Best Buy, Threadless – these cos. have created digital platforms for their customers to help them with creating new products, etc.

18. Demand for organic food, products

 According to Global Organic Market Access, the global organic food and drink sales is projected to reach $60 billion. The North American market for organic food and drink continues to show healthy grow. It has overtaken European market this year to become the largest.

19. Social, open-source learning 

Khan Academy. Open Course Ware. Open Learning Initiatives.

20. Sharing

Sharing knowledge, you see this already happening via social networking, social publishing sites. Sharing things, yes. There’s a peer-to-peer car sharing solutions. ZipCar. Bikesharing.

There’s a lot more trends that we can think of.

What else do you see happening around you that can have profound impact on how you do business?