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What is Green Entrepreneurship?

What is a green entrepreneur?

Green: A product, service, or process that either benefits the environment or reduces the negative environmental impact of existing products, services, or processes.

Entrepreneur: A person who is willing to launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome.

Putting these together, a green entrepreneur is someone who starts a business to make or offer a product, service, or process that benefits the environment.

Much of green is about solving old problems in new ways. For example:

  • How can we create energy without polluting the environment?
  • How can we produce or sell goods using as few resources as possible?
  • How can we keep our houses warm in winter and cool in summer without burning fossil fuels?
  • How can we build vehicles that use as little gas as possible?

Green entrepreneurs are people who have (or seek out) the knowledge, initiative, and resources to solve these problems or find innovative ways to bring existing solutions to market.

Why Become a Green Entrepreneur?

  • Some entrepreneurs start a green business primarily because of their passion for the environment. They see a need for an environmentally-friendly solution, and they work toward creating a product or service that meets the need. They might be targeting a market niche, but the desire to do something good for the planet is what really drives them.

  • For others, helping the environment is an added benefit, but not necessarily the main motivation. Some scientists and innovators are naturally curious about finding new ways to create things. Others see a market need that just happens to have an environmentally-friendly solution. For example, running a manufacturing company that uses energy-efficient and low-waste processes is good for the environment, but it can also be cost-effective.

  • Still others have discovered that there is a "green" application to a product that already exists. For example, a manufacturer of liquid pumps and flow valves designed to pump and control the flow of oil or gas might realize that these products can also be marketed to utilities or wastewater treatment plans to conserve water, or to channel it efficiently. Marketing an existing product to a new type of customer is a more incremental, less risky approach to green entrepreneurship.

A Few Entrepreneurship Facts

  • Approximately 565,000 new businesses started in the U.S. in 2010.
  • Nationally, entrepreneurship has been rising slowly since 2008.
  • In Minnesota, approximately 0.20 percent of adults started a new business in 2010, or 200 out of every 100,000 adults.
  • Minnesotans are less likely than residents in most other states — especially southern and western states — to start their own business.

Source: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – Business Dynamic Statistics