Werner Schrangl, AT
What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean for you personally?
Sustainable Entrepreneurship means that in addition to profit maximisation entrepreneurs should also make the solving of social and ecological problems a guiding principle of their innovative business models. In other words: with the (business) idea of sustainability, the success of a company is no longer primarily measured in terms of its financial profits, but also on the positive ecological and social effects it achieves. This gives rise to a win-win situation for businesses, society and the environment.
In your opinion, how firmly has this way of thinking become established in society, and in particular in the minds of entrepreneurs?
Businesses are becoming increasingly aware that Sustainable Entrepreneurship is going to play an ever greater role as far as (long-term) economic success is concerned. Sustainable start-ups are particularly ‘on trend’ at the moment. In spite of their youth, these entrepreneurs have made ecological and social considerations, as precepts for action, a firmly established part of their corporate philosophy, and have already organised many areas of their daily business activity around them. Although they often come up with good sustainable business ideas, many young entrepreneurs fail when it comes to implementing them, because they have little or none of the necessary means in terms of finance and staff, or because they lack the professional know-how concerning ecologically sustainable strategies and production methods.
In your opinion, which sectors have made most progress in putting Sustainable Entrepreneurship into practice, and which are falling behind?
Austria is a forerunner in the implementation of Sustainable Entrepreneurship. Numerous innovative showcase projects have already been very successfully implemented in the automobile sector, in agriculture, and in the production of fast moving consumer goods. Where Austria still lags behind is in the areas of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly construction and development, electricity from renewable sources, and waste recycling.
You are the Managing Director of JOB-WORLD KG and Deputy Chairman of the CSR Dialogue Forum. What role does JOB-WORLD or the CSR Dialogue Forum play in the promotion of sustainable economic activity?
In addition to traditional personnel procurement, JOB-WORLD has also specialised in recruiting ‘high potentials’ for ‘green jobs’, because green jobs are jobs for the future and are also crisis-proof. Not only do they offer exciting and extremely varied areas of activity, but also they make an important contribution to our environment and to the careful use of already scarce resources. In addition to this, we should also stress our exemplary commitment within the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Dialogue Forum to the promotion of sustainable economic activity. Our mission in the CSR Dialogue Forum is: “We support and promote businesses in the process of placing their economic, ecological and social responsibility at the forefront of their activity. Through new ways of thinking and an open dialogue, we are making a contribution to a new and different way of evaluating businesses.”
How important is it for you to set an example of sustainable thinking, and to what extent do you do this?
As a responsible manager I feel a special obligation to set an example of sustainability to my JOB-WORLD team and to act as an example. The sparing and (at the same time) efficient use of natural resources is and always will be an indispensable part of our daily activity. In the office in particular, there is a lot of potential for saving, for example by using recycled paper on a consistent basis, recycling items printed in error as rough paper, and using LED lights. Sustainable economic activity also means for us that we take sustainability into account in all matters relating to staff. The so called ‘Candidate Journey’ (= the management of the positive/motivating experiences of applicants in the selection process, from the job advert to the initial training phase) has now become an indispensable and permanent ‘employer branding’ instrument for us, which optimises the recruitment process and thus increases candidate quality in the long term.
How do you see the role and position of Austria in the further development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?
Many Austrian companies operate as an example throughout Europe with their innovative projects, and are pioneers in sustainable economic activity. However, a few individual companies have still not realised that merely striving for profits is no longer sufficient for generating long-term success. I firmly believe that all companies that have not yet integrated sustainability considerations into their business processes are not fit for the future.
Every year the SEA is given to entrepreneurs whose extraordinary projects have implemented Sustainable Entrepreneurship in practice. What convinced you to support this idea?
The fact that Sustainable Entrepreneurship is the business model of the future, combining economic success with social and ecological responsibility. However, there are no patent recipes or absolutely correct solutions in the practical implementation of Sustainable Entrepreneurship, only learning processes and experiences. Identifying good practice is therefore a central concern of the SEA. The award provides a basis, not just in Austria but also transnationally and throughout Europe, for an exchange of experience with our competitors in finding the best and ‘most successful’ modes of sustainable business activity.
In what way can each one of us contribute to increasing the importance and value of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?
Both companies and consumers have to ‘think sustainably’ and set an example to other people (for example by shopping in an environmentally aware way, voluntary involvement in organisations that are intensively committed to the principle of Sustainable Entrepreneurship, and also by consistent separation of waste). Only in this way will it be possible to keep our natural environment intact as far as possible so that we can pass it on to future generations.
One final question: What is the most impressive example of Sustainable Entrepreneurship that has particularly remained in your memory?
I find the sustainable, innovative business idea of the South African company ‘Nuru Energy’ particularly impressive. Using the ‘POWERCycle Pedal’, portable and mobile (battery-driven) LED lamps have been developed that currently represent the most effective and cheapest solution to electricity generation for low-income households. Around one third of the world’s population still does not have access to a power supply. These people are mainly dependent on kerosene lamps, which are not only dangerous, hazardous to health and expensive, but also cause high CO2 emissions. Nuru POWERCycle offers a safe alternative that is not detrimental to health and is also environmentally friendly – and at a cheap price.