Small Businesses and Sustainability Innovation: Confronting the Gap between Motivation and Capacity

CIGI Policy Brief No. 127

April 5, 2018

Smaller firms tend to perceive sustainability to be more important, both personally and to their company, than do larger firms. Actions that address social issues, such as employee well-being and inclusivity, appear to be more important, and more likely to be implemented, than do actions addressing environmental issues. Community reputation is the most frequently cited motivator of progress on sustainability, while increased profits comes in a close second. More effective policies to accelerate sustainability transitions in small businesses must be tailored to the capacity constraints specific to small and medium-sized enterprises and their perceptions of sustainability benefits. In addition, sharing lessons learned from transformative small businesses around the world will assist in this transition.

About the Author

Sarah Burch is a CIGI senior fellow with expertise on financing sustainable development, particularly on the exploration of innovative solutions to address challenges associated with climate change and sustainability.