The Green economy is regarded by many as the next big business wave and has been touted by some, including President Obama, to have great potential in creating new jobs. The U.S. microenterprise development industry is responding to this new market opportunity and launching innovative green business support services including loans specifically geared towards environmentally friendly services and products and helping existing business owners go green.
Green Innovations in the AEO Community
In Georgia, AEO member Appalachian Community Enterprises (ACE) recently launched the Georgia Green Loans program to provide $35,000 or less in business capital to help entrepreneurs green their businesses. Grace Fricks, ACE President and CEO says the new loan program will soon be available statewide through partnerships with Albany Community Together in Albany, GA and the Small Business Assistance Corporation in Savannah, GA. “Green is not a fad,” Fricks said. “It’s the future for all of us.”
In New York City, AEO member ACCION USA is a partner in the city’s Green Carts program. The initiative promotes access to healthy foods and supports street vendors who sell fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods where the majority of the population report rarely consuming the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables. ACCION USA offers reduced-interest rate loans to Green Cart vendors to provide them with the money to purchase a cart and the inventory to get started.
While many AEO members do not yet have a formal green loan program, they’re still finding ways to support their clients’ eco-interests. The Utah Microenterprise Fund in Salt Lake City has previously given funds to businesses like Eco Moto, an alternative transportation specialty store.
Resources for AEO Members
EcoVentures International, an AEO member in Washington, DC provides consulting services, tools, and training to help microenterprise development organizations assist their microenterprise clients to understand and take advantage of the new opportunities in the green economy. At the AEO National Summit on Entrepreneurship last month EVI presented the Rural Enterprise Development and the Green Economy workshop, which discussed the trends and tools needed to link rural entrepreneurs to green sectors and markets. (To download the training materials, click here).
Also at the National Summit, Melissa Bradley-Burns, Senior Strategist for Green For All, delivered a rousing challenge to the microenterprise development field to “escalate and elevate” their work as green jobs take center stage in the Obama economic recovery process. Green For All is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through a clean energy economy. The group works in collaboration with the business, government, labor, and grassroots communities to create and implement programs that increase quality jobs and opportunities in green industry – all while holding the most vulnerable people at the center of its agenda. Audio of Melissa’s speech will be available on AEO’s website soon.
Entrepreneurs can also find sources for environmental grants and loans, including pollution control loans, green technology grants and energy efficiency projects, through the U.S. Small Business Administration at Business.gov.
Measuring the Carbon Footprint of Business
Existing businesses that want to “go green” but perhaps don’t know where to start can look to Intuit for help. The company that makes QuickBooks and TurboTax is now offering a free service for entrepreneurs called Green Snapshot, which creates a carbon footprint analysis for businesses, and provides them with recommendations on how to lower their impact and communicate their environmental achievements to their customers.
Does your organization offer special support or loan options to businesses seeking to be a part of the Green Economy? If so, let AEO know.