Starting up as an entrepreneur (4/4)

Competencies of a Green Entrepreneur

For a successful performance, in any field, we need to have relevant competencies, which are made of skills, knowledge and attitudes. Knowledge we need to understand the effect of our actions and to reach our desired result; skills to perform tasks and attitudes as a value system to support our actions. So, consider that as a green entrepreneur you will need a more holistic view on business, and a quite specific set of competences.

The competencies are defined as…:

  1.  Strategic Action : the ability to arrange tasks, people and resources, inspiring and motivating other, evaluating projects and taking action and initiative to deal with sustainability. (Ploum et al., 2017).
  2. Systems Thinking : The ability to identify and analyse all relevant (sub)systems across different domains (people, planet, profit) and disciplines as well as boundaries. s (Lans
    et al., 2014).
  3. Embracing Diversity and Interdisciplinarity : The ability to structure relations, spot issues and recognise the legitimacy of other viewpoints in business decision-making processes that regard environmental, social and economic issues, involving all stakeholders and maximise the exchange of ideas and learning across different groups, both inside and outside the organisation, and different disciplines. (De Haan, 2006).
  4. Foresighted Thinking : the ability to collectively analyse, evaluate and craft “pictures” of the future, where the impact of local decisions concerning the environment, society and the economy are appreciated on a global scale and have a long term positive effect. (Wiek et al., 2011).
  5. Normative : The ability to map, apply and reconcile sustainability values, principles and targets. The Normative competences enables the sustainable entrepreneur to assess and improve the level of sustainability of social-ecological systems, based on these values and principles. (Gibson, 2006).
  6. Interpersonal : is the ability to motivate, enable and facilitate collaborative and participatory sustainability activities and research (Lans et al., 2014).

Willemsen carried research on sustainable entrepreneurship (2017) asked: What role do competencies of sustainable entrepreneurship have in the decision-making process concerning critical issues when it comes to creating a venture? The research showed that sustainable entrepreneurs believe they have all 6 competencies, and apply each in their entrepreneurial work. Namely, the Strategic Action and Normative competencies are mostly used to decide to start a business and make it sustainable. Diversity competence is used to find and combine different disciplines needed to work on sustainability. Foresighted thinking is used to anticipate market developments and foresee the effect of actions on a timescale. Systems-Thinking is used to understand all the aspects that are relevant for sustainability that are being worked on. Interpersonal competence is seen as a skill for positive relationships with employees and other stakeholders.

By all means, the competencies mentioned above can also be applied to any business, it is of uttermost importance to know and understand that a sustainable and green entrepreneur, besides the financial well-being of the company, is also centred on the wellbeing of the planet and its life.

GREENday – Youth Entrepreneurship, Environmental Start-Ups

 Handbook on Green Start Ups


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