The permanent ban on production and use of plastic bags is quickly becoming a reality as the deadline for effecting the regulations inches closer by the hour. However, while the government, through the ministry of environment, gave over eight months for the country to get its act together in matters plastic bags, many seem to be unprepared for the transition. The manufacturers moved to the high court to contest the decision. Though, the move is seen largely to be guided by their selfish interest for profit rather than the need to conserve our environment. The general public has been debating on the social media platforms on how exactly life would be without the plastic bags which brought about much convenience in their day to day lives. Businesses, on the other hand, just like the rest of the stakeholders were found flat footed as the country takes tangible steps towards transitioning to green economy.
One of the main challenges in fully adopting the green economy concept in Kenya is the wide attitude-behaviour gap in environmental conservation. The ongoing environmentalists’ initiatives have mainly focused on tree planting and somewhat ignored the sources of pollution. When looked at from this point of view, then one realizes that businesses have a critical role to play in environmental conservation and sustainable development. However, they haven’t been part of the conversation and participants in the green philosophy movement.
How, then, should Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) position themselves in the impending advent of the green economy in Kenya? How can they be the leading voices when it comes to the green economy? So you are an SME and you are wondering how to move your business to the new era of a green economy. Well, here are a few pointers. The first step would be to carry out a green audit of the entire business. This involves examining all functions of the business from production to distribution, looking at each function with an environmental impact lens. This is to ascertain the current performance and conformance by the business when it comes to green practices. Thus, in the end, the green business audit will enable you to identify the existing gaps and provoke you to think about ways of fixing the non-green aspects.
Having performed the audit, the next step in positioning yourself for the green economy would be to formulate a comprehensive green business strategy. This will provide guidance on the direction that the business will pursue in its quest to be environmentally friendly and how it will get to achieve the set objectives. This should begin with a strategic corporate master plan which is further cascaded to corporate departments for different functions like Production, Operations, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Procurement, and Information Technology among others depending on the organizational structure you have adopted for your business.
To anchor the green business strategy, you will need to develop policies and regulations that guide actions of the employees as well as other stakeholders interacting with the business on a day to day basis. These will range from simple practices like switching office equipment while not in use to complex ones like installing and maintaining solar panels.
In implementing the new green business strategy, first ensure that you educate and sensitize employees on the need for the business to go green; highlighting the benefits accruable both to the organization as well as to the physical environment. As with any change process, be sure to get some resistance but by explaining the logical reasons behind the raft of changes, you will be able to make your business green.
Lastly, always measure your efforts in terms of conformance to the set green business goals. Without constantly monitoring your performance, you will easily lose focus. To this end, adopt sustainability reporting where you measure, disclose and be accountable to internal as well as external stakeholders for business performance towards the goal of sustainable development. With all this, you will be good to go.
Now, get started. Let’s go green!