Sustainability is a topic that is becoming more and more relevant in our modern time as we become increasingly aware of the impact that we are having on our environment. It is for this reason that international organizations such as the United Nations(UN), have made efforts to help reduce the number of carbon emissions and help to curtail the effects of climate change. Whether it be the Kyoto protocol in 1997 or the Paris agreement in 2016, the UN has been a key player in creating global initiatives that look to make a more sustainable world. One of the most notable of these climate change initiatives has been the sustainable development goals.
In 2015, as a part of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the United Nations introduced the 17 sustainable development goals, with the aim of creating a shared “blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future” (AIM2Flourish.com, 2022). These development goals were adopted by all UN member states, regardless of income, and serve as a guide to helping reduce many of the problems that are present in the world today such as poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. The sustainable development goals, in general, all fall under the 5 p’s, that being people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. Each of the 17 sustainable development goals has its own targets which should be hit by the year 2030. In total there are 169 targets, with different indicators that act as a means of providing qualitative and quantitative measures of progress (AIM2Flourish.com, 2022).
For the purpose of this report, we will be focussing on one of the sustainability goals in particular. That goal is sustainability goal number 9, which aims to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation” (AIM2Flourish.com, 2022). There are 9 targets within this sustainable development goal including:
- Develop sustainable and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being
- Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and raise significantly the industry’s share of employment and GDP in line with national circumstances, and double its share in the least developed countries
- Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises to financial services including affordable credit and their integration into value chains and markets
- Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes
- Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, including by encouraging innovation and increasing the number of R&D workers per one million people by x% and public and private R&D spending
- Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries
- Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries
Throughout the course of this report, we have taken a look at several companies that were able to innovate in their fields as well as promote sustainability either as a part of the company’s core mission or as a bi-product of it. The 21 stories that we looked at for this report were all based around companies that were either finalists or winners of the flourish prize, a yearly award given out by the AIM2Flourish organization that recognizes the role that businesses play in achieving the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (AIM2Flourish.com, 2022). When looking at all of these companies and the ways in which they were able to promote sustainability, we noticed that they all had a common overarching theme of using technology as a means of helping to solve environmental and social issues. Due to technological innovation being a core tenant of their business, we can see how these are all companies that primarily serve to promote sustainable development goal #9, which was introduced earlier.
We believe that this sustainability goal is important because of how it aims to use technological innovation and industrialization as a means of fostering sustainability, rather than simply being used to generate profits. The stories that we have looked at and will be discussing in this report are important because they show how capitalism and sustainability don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Through looking at the different stories of these award-winning entrepreneurs, we will discuss what they did similarly, what they did differently, the themes we noticed, and ultimately give our thoughts on why these stories are so influential and what they mean for the convergence of business and sustainability.
Description and Comparison of the Innovations
We found that the articles that we looked at fell under 3 main themes. Each article is categorized by the main problem that it addresses, which will be explained in detail below.
1. Technology Innovation and Education
Utilizing information technology in the fishing business, Aruna Jaya Nusantara proposes a sustainable marine ecology. Aruna facilitates fishermen in the marketing of their catch by giving fair and transparent data, allowing them to better their economic situation and pass on their knowledge of fisheries to the next generations. Indonesia is a country made up of more than 17,500 small islands. It has a lot of potential and a lot of money in the water around it. Because there hasn’t been a lot of progress in the fishery business yet. Lack of money and infrastructure in Indonesia’s outer islands is the main reason. On the other hand, fishery production has increased in recent years, but most Indonesian fishermen still live in poor conditions because they don’t know how to trade fish and what the market wants.
It was Farid, Indra, and Utari who came up with the concept of an online fishing platform to make it easier for fishermen to find a market, transparency, and a clear pricing.When Pasarlaut.com was launched in 2015, it became the first e-commerce platform for fish and seafood. In 2016, PT Aruna Jaya Nusantara was launched. It had two websites: pasarlaut.com, which was a commercial fishery market platform, and aruna.id, which was a company profile and an integrated fisheries system platform.
Aruna is contributing to SDG 9 by creating infrastructure and developing new technology. This indicates that they are supporting the United Nations to make sure that by 2030, no one is left behind. Through using technology as a means of building infrastructure, Aruna is helping their own country develop, thus helping to reduce global inequality.
Empowering girls and women all across the world is one of the most critical social concerns. Roshini Rides is supporting gender equality through technology by ensuring that all women have equal access to jobs, food, and education. It is their mission to act as a bridge between women in Karachi and also the resources, opportunities, and self-determination they deserve. The company’s goal is to bring more women into Pakistan’s economy, which is now dominated by males, and it expects to accomplish it with the help of the government in the future. The company’s goal is to increase the number of women in the workforce, while at the same time addressing the omnipresent problem of traffic congestion by offering a carpooling platform.
To increase Roshni Rides engagement, the team created a dynamic website. Their website emphasizes safety and says drivers are chosen after a “four-point thorough verification process.” Roshni Rides has been able to maintain its success by carefully selecting the best drivers. According to the website, “trained drivers, together with our technologies, identify our solution as the optimum transportation choice.” Employees are vital to every business, they make it run. Roshni Rides could not continue its objective without competent drivers who care about Pakistani women.
While other driving services like Uber and Careem exist in Pakistan, Roshni Rides focuses on middle-class ladies who cannot afford these services daily or lower-class people who utilize rickshaws and buses. Businesses in the region have forgotten their target demographic, making Roshni Rides unique.
The company has been able to raise funds to start a new and exciting business for women in Pakistan. They have chosen drivers who are compatible with their goal, safe, and well-trained. Their entry into a new market in Pakistan is helping them achieve their immediate and long term aims.
When it comes to the environmental side of things, one of the leading firms in technological innovation is Auravant. They are a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that uses satellite imaging to be able to maximise the efficiency of crop yields through giving advantages such as telemetry, traceability, and automatism. This provides a huge advantage to those working within the agriculture field because it provides value through activities such as calculating the vigor, yield, harvest rates, as well as detecting the anomalies of the land and notifying the user by email.
The company was founded in 2015 when Nicolás Larrandart (Auravant CTO) together with two other partners found that there was a niche in the agriculture industry that was not being addressed. They noticed that farmers were not using data when harvesting crops which was generating high inefficiency due to there being many wasted inputs of seed, water, and herbicides. The team then took this opportunity to create a platform which combined mapping and data processing in one package.
By maximizing the efficiency of the inputs used, auravant is not only helping to create a better yield, But it is also helping to preserve useful resources such as water, as well as minimising the use of harmful inputs such as herbicides. By doing this, Auravant is able to target sustainable development goal #9 through its use of technological innovation to help protect the environment.
Ultimately, these businesses are influential in the way that they don’t just think about making money, but rather they choose to focus as well on how they can have a positive impact on the environment. They do this by creating products which provide more sustainable and socially continuous solutions to what is available in the market. Through doing this, these companies are helping to mitigate the negative effects that other companies within their industry have created.
Even though these companies work to solve different issues within society, they are all similar in how they choose to utilize technology in order to achieve their mission and create positive social change. In particular, we found that one overarching strategy that existed among all of the companies that we looked at was the blue ocean strategy. The blue ocean strategy is a strategy where a company enters a market which has very little or no competition. The blue ocean strategy focuses on differentiation as a means of opening up a new market space and creating new demand (Blueoceanstrategy.com, 2022). By doing this, these companies were able to carve out a niche for themselves by focusing their product or service around solving a particular problem.
One overarching strategy that we found that all of these companies were using was the blue ocean strategy. The blue ocean strategy is a strategy where a company enters a market which has very little or no competition. Businesses such as those stated above are implementing this strategy in order to achieve their vision and goal. They came up with solutions that truly benefited people by addressing the problems that are present in their respective industries. Through doing this, these companies are contributing to creating a more sustainable world.
Critical Reflection Essay
Throughout the course of our discussions, it was interesting to see the different ways in which companies were able to address the sustainable development goals. This was an eye opening experience for us as it opened our eyes to all the different problems that exist in the world. By reading the articles, we were able to understand the importance of addressing these issues. We as well saw how companies have begun to change their worldview in order to become more sustainable with their carbon footprint. While reading real cases and the main objectives they wanted to achieve we managed to develop a new point of view. Industries are going to have a 360° change and the world must be prepared for it. Sometimes we aren’t aware of the consequences that our actions can have on the world, and so we keep living as if nothing wrong could happen.
When we were discussing the different SDG’s we found very interesting how a company was almost certainly addressing more than one SDG at the same time. with an average of about 5 per company. For companies, being able to touch different points of sustainability and equality allows them to be closer to the global goals every year. For us, being able to learn the new metrics and their desired impact in society made us more conscious of our actions and future goals we want to achieve with our lives.
Conciliation is the word that best describes what we learned over the course of these last few weeks. The world needs us and we are in the right place and the right moment to act and become more sustainable with how we live. After looking at these articles, we came to the consensus that what is really important in our lives is to be proud of contributing to make the world a better place. It is totally true that we need the unconditional support of the governments and companies to lighten the process of decarbonisation, but it is also true that we can’t just sit around and expect change to happen by itself, which is why we have to focus on how we can make little changes in our everyday lives. These changes can go a long way in helping to increase sustainability in the long run.
The AIM2Flourish experience was a great one, as it introduced us to several organizations that are trying to make a difference in the world. There are companies from all over the world that are working for a common goal: creating a more sustainable world. It was very interesting to see that companies from very different parts of the world can have a similar outlook on a particular SDG and have common goals and priorities set to make their goal possible.
As a group we divided up the articles so that each member had to read approximately 4 articles and we created a spreadsheet so that we could share our lessons learned from each of the articles. We believed this would be the best way to compare and contrast the companies, and the different themes that we noticed. The categories we used to compare them were: Sustainable Development Goal, their origin stories, if they prioritised the SDG or profitability, the objective of the company, and themes. Through this analysis we managed to identify that most of the companies are focused on fulfilling their SDG instead of maximizing profits. There are a variety of reasons why this could be. From improving company image to a true sense of purpose for the cause, companies have different reasons for why they might sacrifice profits. We ultimately believe that, in the long run, it will help them create more profits, along with creating a more sustainable world.
Other data we can take from the excel chart are the similarities that exist within the origin stories of the companies. Most founders come from a humble background and created the company to solve an issue that they themselves had been going through. Take, for example, the story of “TOMi7, the best technological tool for students”. This idea came from a student in a low-income school in Colombia. He was inspired by a teacher to create a technological tool that would aid teachers from low income schools and help them give their lessons. There are plenty of cases similar to this scenario where a founder took it upon themself to create something that would solve the issue that they were facing.
The recurring themes in the AIM2Flourish companies were environmental protection and conservation, waste reduction, innovation in technology, and social impact. This choice in themes makes a lot of sense as they are also some of the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development and Business. It is clear that many of these stories were selected purposely to make the themes in the stories and the UN’s goals overlap.
Our SDG was industry, innovation, and infrastructure and while this SDG may not resonate as much with the average person, we believe that innovations in the world’s industries and infrastructures may lead to these other SDGs being further developed. In our opinion,all of these SDGs all work together in unison and as one gets better it helps the rest of the Sustainable Development goals to improve as well.
Throughout the meetings we have had the pleasure of being able to read a variety of articles or stories, and this has taught us many skills. From one hand, the ability to interact with people from different parts of the world and to carry out a relatively smooth process, even though we have totally different local time.
After having read and analyzed the articles and then having been able to comment on them, we have all learned that there are many companies that are really looking forward to prosper and to improve both the sustainability of the world and the environment. We have also learned that many family companies want to flourish and become better and better on their objectives.
During the process of analyzing the articles, we have been able to learn about different areas, such as: sustainable livestock, renewable energy or sustainable cities or communities, and what they all have in common is the sustainability of the society.
Moreover, we didn’t expect everything to be so easy and so smooth, in the sense that since we all had different schedules we thought it would be very difficult to have meetings often, but we organized ourselves in such a way that everyone could meet. All this that we have learned would not have been possible if we had not been well organized, since, as we have previously announced, the group is made up of people from different countries, and a good organization is a key element to carry out this project correctly.
AIM2Flourish was a great challenge for us and allowed us to gain new insight about business innovation worldwide and also understand how they related to their SDGs. We also learned how business could bring a great impact towards humanity. We also learned important points of view by sharing our own opinion with each other in our online meet.
I learned that innovation should give a great impact towards the world, innovation is about making something valuable for the user. AIM2Flourish helps me to change the way I think and also brighten my mindset about how business should perform in the digital age. SDG’S is the principle of doing business innovation and innovation is the step to achieve it.
The articles that have been provided to us are all quite interesting, and discussing them with foreign friends has allowed me to get fresh perspectives on business and sustainability. It allows us to think about what new innovation we can make and why we should create a new innovation.
Our Work as a Distributed Team: Lessons Learned
This opportunity provided me with a great deal of information and I became more open to new points of view that I might never have thought of. Many of the articles genuinely taught us that it is not only crucial to create a profitable business, but it is also important to consider what we can do to give back to the community or to protect the environment. We should be willing to offer more than we have taken in the process of our production process.
This is a completely new experience for me; I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to collaborate with such wonderful international colleagues in the first place. We may have found it difficult to keep up with our schedule at times due to the time difference and the fact that we are really quite busy, but this was not a major issue for us. After all, this is really a fun way to learn something, I’m looking forward to another opportunity.
We found some companies that are very interesting and give very impactful benefits toward the world. It gives us new inspiration. AIM2Flourish is a great and fun way to learn about businesses and SDGs.
The purpose of working together as a group is to achieve goals with team work, which means every person must contribute to every task and also be responsible for their work. I learned a lot of things from AIM2Flourish, especially about business innovation.
Working together in a group is really interesting because for me it’s a fun challenge because we are from different countries and together we still can complete our task even though sometimes the time differences between Spain and Indonesia is quite far but we still can make it and finish our task, and I don’t think our group had any problem with cross cultural, were basically communicate as usual even though were from different country but we can make it even though sometimes the time differences between spanish and indonesia is quite far but we still can make it and finish our task, so it’s been a really great experience for me.
When we were told that we were going to work with people from different countries I couldn’t imagine that I was going to be working on the same project with people from Indonesia and Canada. At first I thought how on earth are we going to organize and meet to work on the activities, but when all members are willing to help, no matter the time zone, the work will be carried out correctly. In my opinion this methodology has been very productive and formative to the point that we ended up having a very good relationship between all of us. At the beginning of every session I tried to ask everyone how was the week, so we could familiarise between each other and obviously trying to make less formal our woking sessions. Always with the camera on, the smile on their faces and no matter the circumstances we were all very punctual to work together and willing to do a great job. Really enjoyed this experience and I totally recommend it for future generations, because no matter what others can say about internationalisation, what I can affirm is that there is no better way to learn such an interesting topic as SDG’s and innovation with people all over the world. New friendships and of course new consciousness of the topic held during these weeks has made me be very passionate about the subject.
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