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Illustration by Darya Sukhova

How Entrepreneurs Will Save the World

An unexpected player is emerging in the international dynamic of climate change protestors and indifferent governments. Here is why the impact of sustainable entrepreneurs is insurmountable.

CNN’s most prominent headline on Aug. 15, 2019, read: “Greenland's ice sheet just lost 11 billion tons of ice – in one day.”
Climate change is real and is growing at an unparalleled rate. We are quickly reaching a point of no return. Rod Downie, chief polar advisor of the WWF U.K. [warns] (,“If emissions continue to rise at current rates, we have about a decade before 1.5°C of global warming is inevitable and the impacts are irreversible. Further warming beyond this will lead to mass wildlife extinctions and human catastrophe.”
So what is being done about humanity’s most pressing issue?
In 2015, 196 countries negotiated the Paris Agreement. The agreement was a commitment from these nations to curb climate change by taking steps to limit the increase in global average temperature. Despite the 2015 agreement, global carbon emissions increased 1.7 percent in 2017 and a further 2.7 percent in 2018; it has been estimated that the rate of increase in 2019 will be among the highest on record. Even though there are some countries such as Morocco, Gambia and India that have been making strides in reducing the effects of climate change, most others have not. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia have seldom tried to reduce emissions and are projected to be two to three times above the agreed limit set by the [Paris Agreement] ( Even “progressive” nations like Canada are insufficient in their actions and policies against climate change.
An example of the kind of destruction that comes as a result of government policy was seen over the summer with the Amazon rainforest. Jair Bolsonaro’s government [made matters worse] ( for the Amazon by weakening the environment agency, attacking conservation NGOs and promoting the opening of the Amazon to mining, farming and logging. On top of that, Bolsonaro’s far-right government launched a [global PR campaign] ( to try to convince the world that everything is under control. At the current rate governments are going, it will take centuries to fix climate change – time that we simply don’t have.
So, who is making significant positive progress on climate change?
Entrepreneurs around the world are using sustainable business models that directly tackle climate change. The list of Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs is evidence of entrepreneurs taking matters into their own hands to address pressing environmental issues such as climate change. Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze who have been named on this list, founded 4ocean. Their mission is to clean the ocean and coastlines while working to stop the inflow of plastic by changing consumption habits. Saumya, co-founder of [Kheyti] (, developed a “Greenhouse-in-Box” which helps farmers grow seven times more food using 90 percent less water and usually takes up just two percent of the available space.
Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao invented proprietary chemical recycling technology that breaks down previously unrecyclable chemical plastic into valuable base chemicals. Their start-up, BioCellection, converts each ton of plastic trash into 2,500 dollars worth of chemicals and prevents 20 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted. Angelo Campus’s BoxPower manufactures solar microgrids which can be quickly deployed in shipping containers to communities in need. BoxPower was used in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and has offset nearly 6.2 million pounds of CO2 this year. Social entrepreneurs are in a unique position to change the world. One hundred percent of social enterprise capital is dedicated to the problems they are solving.
On the other hand, government revenue has to be distributed across different sectors, ranging from infrastructure and healthcare, to defense and welfare programs. Consequently, the funds towards environmental causes become diluted. Social enterprises do not suffer from this problem. They are also able to act faster than governments as they don’t have bureaucratic procedures and, thus, can rapidly adjust to the changing environment. Fast action with regard to issues like climate change is exactly what the world needs right now. It takes fewer resources to establish a social enterprise; there are many venture capital, private equity firms and organizations like the Hult Prize Foundation that exist to help start-ups to grow and scale their business models. The best part is that these companies are not running on charity. Rather, they are building profitable business models and leveraging capitalism to solve issues like climate change.
Entrepreneurs are not shackled by bureaucracy and political agendas; they have the freedom to operate and design solutions with nothing except their own imagination and will holding them back. Protests and strikes are great, but we are asking governments to save the world for us, when we should be taking matters into our own hands. The time has come for us to act. The time has come for us to become entrepreneurs and save our world. In the words of environmentalist author Bill McKibben, “Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.”
Abdul Kareem Kamran is a contributing writer. Email him at
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