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Over 80% of entrepreneurs say it’s their responsibility to take action to protect the environment: BDC study

A majority of Canadian entrepreneurs have started transition to a greener economy

Key findings

  • 82% of Canadian entrepreneurs are currently taking concrete actions to reduce the environmental impact of their activities.
  • 63% of entrepreneurs having implemented environmentally friendly practices act based on their personal convictions. More than half are also motivated by reducing operating costs and close to one-third by improving brand image.
  • Costs are not often passed on to consumers, with 41% of entrepreneurs saying they absorb the price tag of green measures, while 25% take steps to educate clients.

Montreal, April 8, 2021 – Canadian entrepreneurs are highly motivated to reduce the environmental impact of their business activities, with 82% saying they have taken concrete actions to protect the environment, according to a new BDC study. The study, titled “A Transformation in Progress: How Canadian Entrepreneurs Are Taking on the Environmental Challenge,” surveyed 1,515 Canadian business leaders and 1,014 consumers last October to explore how companies are navigating environmental change and what barriers they face.

“Most Canadian entrepreneurs are motivated and making environmental strides,” says Pierre Cléroux, BDC’s Vice President, Research and Chief Economist. “Our study shows that acting for the environment doesn’t hurt financial performance. In fact, it can boost profits and speed up the economic recovery. We hope our findings inspire others to take even more environmentally beneficial and profitable business decisions.”

The study offers a roadmap for businesses at each stage of their green transition from beginner to leader, including how to assess current environmental performance, reduce energy and water consumption, eco-design products and services, implement an environmental management system, obtain environmental certification or finance environmental projects.

According to the findings, 20% of entrepreneurs are taking advanced steps such as designing products with minimal environmental impact, getting external environmental audits and adopting zero-waste practices. Fifty-four percent of entrepreneurs have adopted easier measures—for example, reducing energy consumption and using recycled or waste materials as inputs. Some entrepreneurs (26%) are still reluctant to act, taking only basic steps such as reducing waste.

Accompanying entrepreneurs in the transition to a climate resilient economy

Climate change will disrupt natural ecosystems and societies for decades. The study finds that extreme weather events related to climate change have already negatively affected 11% of Canada’s entrepreneurs in the past five years. Also, 43% expect climate change will negatively affect their business in the next decade.

The most powerful contribution BDC can make is to accompany entrepreneurs in the transition to a greener economy. To do so, the Bank will notably continue to build on the successes of its marketplace leadership in the cleantech sector. In December, BDC announced that it had invested more than half a billion dollars in Canadian cleantech firms since 2018. Its Cleantech Practice is one of the largest, most active investors of its kind in Canada. As the first financial institution in Canada to receive B Corp certification, BDC will actively pursue the promotion of practical advice and business planning tools such as the B Impact Assessment.

The Bank supports the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and is working towards implementing its recommendations. BDC has also committed to become carbon neutral in its operations by the year 2025.

About BDC

BDC is the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs. It provides access to financing, as well as advisory services to help Canadian businesses grow and succeed. Its investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions. For more information, visit bdc.ca.


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