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The benefits of going green for small businesses

The benefits of going green for small businesses

Becoming more environmentally sustainable is not only viable for small businesses, but could yield even greater benefits as these small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow.

This is according to Gerschwyne van Wyk, Country Manager at Business Partners Namibia, who mentions that many SME owners still mistakenly believe, that going green should only become a priority once a fledgling business has managed to establish itself as a profitable enterprise.

“In fact, the advantages of implementing sustainable practices and strategies into an SME far outweigh any cost implications. In relation to this, a study by McKinsey & Company1 has revealed a strong correlation between resource efficiency and financial performance among businesses. It has also shown that businesses with well-rounded sustainability strategies are more attractive to investors and funders. As an example, investments by funders into sustainable and socially responsible businesses have increased by 22% in the US and Europe markets,” said van Wyk.

He pointed out that aside from the long-term, positive implications of sustainable business practices, the fact remains that the increasing cost of essential business resources such as fuel, electricity, water and materials are all adding additional pressure to business operations.

Van Wyk said that it is not only possible to become more sustainable without breaking the bank, but it also becomes increasingly costly to delay implementing sustainability measures.

“There are affordable ways to “green” a small business, if tackled with an innovative mind-set. But as a business grows, it actually becomes more expensive to bring in large scale sustainable measures. If business owners delay it for too long, they may find that they have unnecessarily wasted massive amounts of cash throughout the years, and that their operation has become very expensive to convert to “green” measures,” added.

With this in mind, van Wyk stated that entrepreneurs can consider any of the following steps when endeavouring to green their SMEs:

Fit energy-efficient lighting: Although energy-efficient LED lighting can be more expensive, the cost can easily be offset by the fact that these consume between 70% and 90% less energy.

Insulate the roof: While this may only be possible for property owners, there is a strong case to be made for this measure if renting the business premises. Optimised insulation is often the single biggest difference one can make at a relatively low cost.

Install solar panels: It has been shown that quality solar panels can reduce grid-based energy dependence by up to 54% over the course of one year. Solar panels are ideally suited for businesses that are in operation for seven days of the week.

Opt for portable water tanks: Installing a fully functioning grey-water system might be beyond the reach of most owners of existing buildings because of the cost of re-doing the plumbing system. However, installing large portable water tanks to capture rainwater is an affordable step towards sustainable water use.

Use recycled materials, and find ways to recycle as much as possible: Recycled building materials are cheaper and more sustainable, and can be made to look brand new. Waste materials from other manufacturing companies (such as furniture makers) can also be incorporated in other businesses; and finding opportunities to recycle the business’s own resources, all present opportunities to save money, become more efficient and be noticed by potential clients and partners.

Work with experts: Sustainability has become a specialised industry and one would not be unwise to seek the advice of a service provider that specialises in this field. From architects, to energy consultants and recycling experts, professional help often pays for itself in savings and valuable learnings.

“Paying attention to more responsible and accountable behaviour can yield good benefits, and SMEs that embrace environmentally conscious and sustainable practices may find better ways to close the gap between themselves and larger competitors. Building a business on the principles of best practice as soon as possible is imperative for local SMEs that aim to become industry leaders,” concluded van Wyk.


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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia

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20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.