Sustainability Innovation Programme 2023 Highlights
The FinLab’s Sustainability Innovation Programme (SIP) is a 2-week programme to help SMEs transform their companies into sustainable and green businesses.
Conversations surrounding sustainability and the adoption of sustainable business practices has been gathering steam for a while now. The research is promising – in 2022, as much as 65% of small companies said they view sustainability as an area of importance and concern, and are eager to incorporate sustainable practices into several areas of their business.
This increased enthusiasm for sustainability efforts could not have been more timely. Amidst the reports of mass layoffs and troubling economic forecasts, the outlook for 2023 is shaping up to be challenging. The small and medium-sized enterprises that represent nearly half of Singapore’s GDP are extremely likely to feel the pinch of the shrinking global economy – which makes it harder to implement sustainable business practices, or seek out guidance, training and support from appropriate sources.
But due to a multitude of factors, including consumer pressure – nearly 9 in 10 shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, according to research by Bain & Company, sustainability can no longer be treated as a “nice to have”. Despite the challenging economic climate, startups and SMEs need to embrace it as a priority. Though initial investments into sustainable practices can be high, it does help save money in the long run.
There is a clear need for ecosystems that provide supportive resources, knowledge, advice, and finances to small businesses who want to meet their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) objectives and transition into “greener” operating models.
As there is a dearth of guidance in the realm of sustainability mentorship, The FinLab launched the Sustainability Innovation Programme, a two-week programme to help teach SMEs about sustainable business practices.
By providing deep insights into sustainability topics like energy efficiency, sustainable finance, renewable energy certification, carbon management, and ESG reporting, small businesses can learn what it takes to build a sustainable business from experts who are passionate about the topic and excited to teach others.
The programme is split up into four pillars, each touching on different areas of sustainability.
Hoping to incorporate sustainability into her business, entrepreneur Natalia Mykhaylova was on the lookout for a partner with a keen understanding of Singapore’s sustainability regulations and requirements. She applied to the Sustainability Innovation Programme to learn how to leverage sustainability financing for WeavAir, a start-up focusing on solutions for air distribution systems.
After completing the programme, Mykhaylova connected with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and gained deeper insights into how to transform her business into one primed for local customers. She launched several successful business projects in Singapore and the Philippines, and even clinched the prestigious Emerging ASEAN FinTech Leader Award during the Singapore FinTech Festival in November last year.
Her most recent Singapore-based endeavour helps infrastructure, transport, and logistics companies verify their carbon emissions and offsets directly using satellite data.
The sustainability process is a marathon, not a race. As such, small businesses need to view sustainability through a long-term lens, wherever possible. This can look like testing out new solutions and approaches, championing “green” initiatives that promote sustainable consumption, or seeking help from the wider community.
As long as they remain flexible and open-minded in their approach towards sustainability and treat it as a learning journey, they are bound to succeed.