Inspiring the Green Entrepreneurs of the Future

For the last 3 years Business in the Community has been involved in an ERASMUS+ funded education project which aims to equip young people with the skills, knowledge and commitment to build a more competitive low-carbon economy that makes efficient and sustainable use of resources, protects the environment, reduces emissions and prevents biodiversity loss.

Business in the Community’s role in the project has been to create an interactive e-learning programme which introduced students to business planning and to share inspiring case studies of green businesses.

Green Entrepreneurs Europe (GEE) is about challenging the economy and how things are done. The project is based on the idea of the circular economy which takes inspiration from the natural world. In nature all waste is recycled and provides food for other organisms (no landfill sites, no plastics clogging up our oceans). All life is powered by renewable energy (sunlight). This isn’t just a fanciful idea- major companies such as Veolia and Phillips Lighting are currently using this model and it is being encouraged by the European Union.

The Field Studies Council, in partnership with organisations in Latvia, Spain, Bulgaria and Romania, has developed a project for schools to design their own green / circular product as part of an EU Erasmus+ funded project. In the UK, the project was piloted with Secondary Schools in Essex and London in 2017. Students discussed the problem, discovered how nature does things during an immersive, practical field trip (Lessons from Nature), challenged their ideas and researched existing green business, developed their own green business idea and presented their ideas in front of a panel of invited guests.

Students receiving feedback on their green business plans from business guests.

Highlights of the project were the Lessons from Nature day and the Coffee House Challenge (meetings to discuss, exchange views and find solutions to contemporary issues). During their Lessons from Nature day, students explored the beautiful Epping Forest: learning how waste becomes food, the multiple benefits a single tree provides, how pond invertebrates are adapted to their environment and how all of this runs from solar energy. Throughout the day students linked this back to the human economy and thought about what we could learn from nature.

“I enjoyed being able to interact around the forest and being able to turn things from the forest into an idea for a product”. Student

(Getting outside) “The kids loved it and I think it really helped them understand the underlying concepts behind the GEE course much better”. Teacher.

Learning how nature deals with waste

Using an e-learning programme developed by project partners Business in the Community, students were introduced to the world of business and business planning. They used this to design their own green product and presented their ideas during our Coffee House Challenge event. With the help from Business in the Community we were lucky to have guests from Ford and GlaxoSmithKline at the event who spoke about their work implementing the circular economy and sustainable business practice. Students heard first hand about the highs and the lows of setting up your business, from local entrepreneur Pete Dowds, who spoke entertainingly about his experiences. Students then presented their ideas to the guests who gave them feedback on their green business plans.

A huge thank you and well done to all the students, teachers, businesses and partners involved in the project.

If you would like more information on the project, please visit the website: . This is currently a work in progress, due to be completed by the end of August.