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As published on: http://seechangemagazine.com

I’m thrilled to have launched TheChange and to see my vision of advancing the sustainability movement locally coming to life with the help of a great team and community support. One-month post launch, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on my journey to date.

I grew up on the West Coast of BC and was raised to be environmentally conscious and socially active. I’ve always been interested in getting involved with organizations that are built to make the world better. They are why I wake up in the morning, and the inspiration for the kind of company I hope to create.

In late 2007, I came up with the concept for an online platform that connects people with organizations that align with their values. It started as an extension of my personal interests, and then became a business opportunity when I noticed the demand increasing for corporate responsibility, green jobs and eco-friendly products/services.

I didn’t have a technical background, but I saw the web as the perfect medium to get people informed and inspired to participate in the green economy. Ultimately, I saw the web as a tool to power offline action.

With this business concept in mind, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship at Royal Roads University. The program allowed me to work on a business plan and participate in a start-up incubator. I graduated top of class and with $25,000 in awards. I used this money to incorporate Ethico Solutions Inc. in the fall of 2008.

I spent the next year researching, networking and understanding my customer’s needs. I managed the administration and marketing for the Victoria Values-Based Business Network and Organic Islands, Canada’s largest outdoor green expo. I attended the Social Venture Institute and Web of Change Conference. These experiences gave me to the opportunity to build relationships with many small and medium sized businesses (SME’s) in the local sustainability space.

I learned that SME’s primary challenges were in marketing, sales and recruitment. After hearing their stories and learning how they put sustainability into practice, I was always inspired to support them as a customer, employee or volunteer. So their story – what inspired them to go green and their sustainability initiatives, as they related to the environment, community and employees – became the focus of how I would profile these businesses online. I recruited a technical partner in the Fall of 2009 and for the next six months we worked together, along with designers, branding and legal professionals to release the first version of the platform known as TheChange.

TheChange
launched in Vancouver and Victoria May 15th 2010 and aims to connect people with local sustainable businesses in a relevant and engaging way. Now one-month post launch, TheChange has been featured on the front pages of local media, raised money, hired two employees, recruited a CTO, and is even working with marketing interns from my old stomping ground at BCIT! We have over 50 organizations onboard, are growing daily, and are working diligently on version 2.0 of the platform based on our beta testing and customer feedback.

We’re also gearing up to launch a new initiative called ethicalDeal this Summer! Every day, ethicalDeal will offer one exclusive deal on eco-friendly products and services in your city at an unbeatable price. This is another way we are helping people participate in the green economy and are supporting local businesses that offer green products/services.

We’re moving into an office this summer and will be hiring people to help us grow on a city-by-city basis across North America. I’m very excited for what lies ahead and truly believe that together we can advance the sustainability movement. Join us in TheChange!

Yours for a sustainable future,

Annalea Krebs
Founder & CEO, Ethico Solutions Inc.
www.TheChange.com
www.ethicalDeal.com

Young environmental professionals were in full attendance at the recent Globe 2010 Conference on Business and the Environment. Some, including myself, were there to attend the Globe Forum for Emerging Environmental Leaders. After spending a day engaging with students and young professionals around green jobs and sustainable ventures, I was convinced: This is the Change Generation!

Why are they the “Change Generation”? The people I met were pursuing PhDs in ethical fashion, engineering green buildings and applying principles learned from biology classes to business. They were actively involved in community action projects that ranged from using theatre to educate people on sustainability (ACT NOW) to organizing fundraising campaigns to place windmills in remote aboriginal communities so that they could have a source of renewable energy.

Ultimately, they were passionate about using their skills to make a difference.

Green careers

It’s great to see young people interested and involved in green careers. I consider green careers to be work that has a positive impact on the environment either directly through the job itself (e.g., clean tech engineer) or indirectly through the organization’s mission (e.g., delivery driver at eeko Couriers).

So who are some of these emerging environmental leaders? Here is a sampling of the 100 that attended.

Jill Doucette, Synergy Enterprises

Jill Doucette, a UVic biology student, has built an award-winning business that specializing in sustainable business practices for coffee businesses. Her company, Synergy Enterprises, provides a complete solution: assessing their operations for issues like energy usage and waste management, sourcing green products and finally marketing these initiatives to the public. Her company name defines her philosophy around sustainable business, and even the dictionary agrees—defining “synergy” as “the working together of two things (environment and business for example) produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

I think Jill chose a great niche market to target. High-traffic locations like coffee shops have a great opportunity to help educate people by providing them with sustainable options like eco-containers, fair-trade coffee, local food selections, washroom recycling bins and discounts for personal mugs. Check out the Going Green page on Black Stilt Coffee’s website for a great example of a local café going green (they also happens to be one of Jill’s clients).

Sustainable business consulting is on the rise and a great career choice for people interested in using business as a force for change.

Kim Poldner, Ecofashionworld.com

Clothing can make a statement. So why not make it an eco-friendly one? Kim Poldner is co-founder of Ecofashionworld.com, a site that helps people find everything from bamboo fibre shirts to organic jeans and hemp skirts. Kim says, “When we support ethical fashion, we help reduce poverty and environmental damage. Our actions have an impact.”

She walked the talk at the conference, outfitted in eco-clothing from head to toe.

Clement Bourgogne, mechanical designer

Clement Bourgogne, recently graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He went on to become a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional, through the Canada Green Building Council.

He now works as a mechanical designer for a consulting firm specializing in energy efficiency and green buildings. A great example of a traditional career with a green twist!

Scott Macdonald, government project manager

There are also many opportunities within the public sector. Scott Macdonald is a project manager within a large government department in Ottawa. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering and currently works with issues involving contaminated sites and abandoned dumpsites.

Advice on green careers

What advice did these emerging green leaders have for other students and young professionals interested in a green career?

• Get involved with students organizations like Common Energy, which works to find local solutions to climate change, or Net Impact, which focuses on corporate responsibility and sustainability.

• Become a member of Young Environmental Professionals! This national organization has more than 120 members involved in its Vancouver chapter and frequently organizes networking and educational opportunities (like this forum).

• Attend networking events like Green Drinks, an informal gathering of people passionate about the environment and sustainability. In Vancouver, Green Drinks is held on the third Wednesday of every month at Steamworks. Also, check Granville’s events calendar regularly for similar opportunities for meeting industry professionals and community members.

Green job and educational resources

For those interested in green careers and related educational programs be sure to check out these great Canadian job boards: GoodWork Canada, ECO Canada, and Work Cabin.

For local green organizations, jobs, events and programs be sure to check out my site TheChange.com, which launches in Vancouver and Victoria on Earth Day, April 22, 2010!

How are you participating in TheChange?

Welcome to Sustainable Pursuits!

This blog covers my journey into various sustainable pursuits.  I also share my reflections on corporate responsibility, social enterprise and values-based work. I welcome your comments and hope that by reading my blog you’re inspired to purse sustainability in your life and career.

Yours for a sustainable future,

Annalea Krebs