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SME's and Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

 Evy Crals and Lode Vereeck (2004)

Sustainable entrepreneurship is a spin-off concept from sustainable development that can be defined as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, local communities, the society and the world at large as well as future generations. Sustainable entrepreneurship is an approach that is applied mostly by large, often industrial companies. In their wake, a whole range of sustainability certificates came about. Because of the proliferation of complex and costly procedures to obtain them, SMEs have almost unanimously ignored and repudiated the idea of sustainable entrepreneurship. Since the gains can be substantial in terms of risk control, business relationships with large companies and positive reputation, the question is raised whether SMEs can actually afford it to do business in a sustainable manner. The case study points out what the preconditions are for the implementation of sustainable business practices by SMEs. First of all, the smaller financial resources of SMEs are not a prohibitive determinant. Lack of time, however, is. When solved, SMEs should select a simple, pragmatic and effective format that is tailored to their needs. The case study offers some convincing examples. Finally, SMEs should look at the return and the opportunity costs of a sustainability strategy rather than the financial costs.

in: Catherine Philips (ed.), Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship, Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, p. 37-46. ISBN 1-904710-13-1

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