Students in the Strategic Management and Public Policy Department’s Introduction to Business course have been on the look out for illusive green gazelles for the past few weeks.
Students in SMPP 51 search for small businesses that are environmentally friendly and profitable to draw a connection between environmental awareness and its practical applications in the marketplace.
The term gazelle refers to new, small, fast-growing businesses, according to a pamphlet from the Center for Small Business and the Environment. Green gazelles are small businesses that preserve the environment by using new technologies and processes that increase efficiency and resource productivity, according to the pamphlet.
Byron Kennard, executive director of the CSBE in D.C., said these new businesses produce less waste than older, less-productive companies.
The economic boom that we are experiencing is a result of businesses and consumers able to better communicate, Kennard said. The new marketplace operates more efficiently as there is less of a need for businesses to have inventory; this means less waste.
The Center established the Green Gazelle Award to recognize small businesses that help protect environmental resources, Kennard said.
It was thought for a long time that it was not possible to be environmentally friendly and profitable at the same time, Kennard said. Now it seems, we are changing that line of thinking. It now appears that the businesses that can conserve the most, and waste the least are more profitable in the long run.
Small businesses nationwide have been working to make their businesses greener, by producing and selling at the lowest cost possible.
To aid the project and give his students practical knowledge, business professor Gary Bojes designed his class as a research body in the quest for green gazelles. Kennard visited the class to explain the Green Gazelle Award before students set out to find businesses that match the description.
Bojes said students presented three candidates earlier in the year, six more last Thursday and will present another eight or nine before the semester ends.
Junior Kavi Sagunarthy presented the company Drytoast.com.
Drytoast.com is an environmentally friendly company, he said during a class presentation. They make polar fleece products and use Malden Mills for their fleece. This guarantees that 89 percent of all the material they use is made from recycled materials.
Sagunarthy said the project was a beneficial learning experience for the class of about 20 students.
He is using the resources of the class to outsource and teach social responsibility at the same time, Sagunarthy said. It is active, rather than passive learning.
Students presented a few other internet companies, such as Naturalcotton.com and Greenmarketplace.com, as green gazelles.
The small businesses selected are all new to the marketplace, have reported early profits and use technology to reduce harmful environmental impact.
A panel of CSBE members will select about 100 green gazelle businesses for recognition, Kennard said.
Once the businesses are recognized they will be able to use the award to improve their customer base, Kennard said. It will be good publicity for them.
Recognizing companies for efficient working models will also boost environmental awareness in industries, he said.
The award will also allow consumers to see that, yes, this business does care about the environment, Kennard said. (Green, small businesses) need allies.
CSBE plans to develop a Web site for green gazelles that will serve as a resource for consumers who want to find environmentally friendly retailers. The proposed site will include links to the Web sites of nominees and award winners.
Kennard said the perception that companies must sacrifice environmentally friendly practices to turn a profit is changing.
The world has to know there is a better mouse trap out there, he said. It seems that the best route to profit is to keep the waste and cost down.