Entrepreneurial Green Career Paths
Green career paths are growing on two fronts:
Green jobs in Southeast Asia are on a rise. With a heavier focus on CSR, we started seeing companies listing green-collar paths for more eco-conscious workers wanting to be a part of green careers and sustainability jobs. Green jobs are booming in the corporate world now, especially in an increasingly post-COVID world.
There are even dedicated portals such as Green Collar in Southeast Asia, co-founded by Heng Li Seng, that work towards to creating a sustainable future by providing a bridge between CSR-meeting employers and passionate employees. And this portal has approximately 250+ green career listed in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.
On another front, Y Combinator sees a record number of startups tackling existential climate problems! A record 31 startups are creating products and services focusing on solutions such as carbon capture technology to maximising energy output of solar farms... also a special startup by Alex Brown aims to create a feed additive that chemically transforms the digestion of cows to make them burp less in order to tackle the methane problem (the secret is in the kelp). Wired reports that YC has funded 90 companies addressing climate change since 2010 and the cherry on top is that more than a third of those are in its current class! Talk about exponential growth.
A rise in demand for green-collar workers AND growth in green entrepreneurs sounds like the perfect recipe to me.
What if you wanted to be the captain of your own ship that is capitalising on the demand for green skills to help other companies tackle problems on a B2B scale, or meet customers' market needs on a B2C scale?
How are some ways you can embrace the green wave movement and tap into an entrepreneurial Green Career Path for yourself?
Our co-founder Sai Surya sat down with Yen-Lu Chow who is the co-founder of the Asia Institute of Mentoring (AIM) and spoke about simple steps to chart an entrepreneurial green career path.
More about AIM: AIM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to alleviate mentoring to the forefront in Asia to raise the quality of mentors and set the standard in mentoring, bringing the benefits of mentoring to all facets of the society, to potentially impact millions of lives.
As an entrepreneur, keep your solution simple
Here is a little brain teaser for you!
You are an astronaut and one of your rocket's distributor broke down and you need to remove the metal shavings in order to survive! How would you do it?
Based on a true event... a toothbrush was used!
Were you imagining a complex and comprehensive solution? The tooth hurts.
KIS! Keep it simple!
Sometimes, all we have to do is to find solutions that actually fix the problem that we're trying to solve instead of finding complex and fancy solutions, which might or might not address the problem when it comes to entrepreneurship.
It isn't so much about having fancy code or fancy websites or fancy solutions.
Ask yourself: what is the problem that you're trying to address? And if there is something simple that you can do to solve the proble, do it.
Understand what is actually the main cause/ the root cause of the issue that we're trying to solve.
Sometimes the simplest solutions work better because people find it easier to understand, to adopt and to actually get behind.
Choose a sustainability area you are passionate about using the SDG Pyramid
The bigger question is, how do you start?
Unless you have already made up your mind, getting into entrepreneurship and starting a startup is quite a daunting task.
You have to choose the right area that you are passionate about and have it serve as your foundation.
We advise you to not go into something just because you think that there will be a lot of money in it as it might not sustain you after a few years, especially in the sustainability startup scene. It's quite hard to get off the ground and start running when pursuing impact since the resources and the network ecosystem are still being built. The journey might not be as easy or not be as straightforward as compared to a traditional entrepreneur role.
The SDG Pyramid to Happiness is a good framework for someone who is just starting out to look into. In each of these, there are different targets.
It is literally the world leaders and this global organization that has come together and list down the biggest problems that we need to solve.
After you have chosen which area you want to work in, the most important element is for you to really understand the problem that you want to solve:
Your next first steps
And this can come in a few ways.
Of course, research is one!
But what's more effective is to really be on the ground to observe how people or how things are being done.
Your focus could either be on living or non-living things (such as temple waste):
what process is being used in the supply chain,
how it's being discarded,
whether there's actually a waste or if the temple waste is being reused
The only way to really understand it is to be on the ground to see how it is happening and to empathize with whoever is facing the issue.
Volunteering is a great way to engage with people on the ground facing the issues or meet like-minded people who are also interested in solving similar problems like you.
This is why we created the volunteering spin-off map of our initial networking/collaborative map that previously just listed down startup founders and ecosystem players near you.
We realised that there are many aspiring change-makers who want to know more about sustainability opportunities near them but do not know where to start!
Attending events on the topic, as well as talking to those experiencing the problem and talking to others, working on the problem are also very important.
Especially talking to those experiencing the problem, that's your user interviews! (We did a post on how to go about doing user interviews with design thinking in our learning in public series)
It could be really effective to motivate you and the team to actually go in the right direction.
You don't want to be solving problems that people might not be facing. Actually talking to others working in this space can be valuable since you can understand what problems they have faced in trying to solve the issues. And you can also learn from the potential pitfalls.
You also can see roughly where the interests in the support system in that specific sector is.
As a founder, while it is true that you might not be the main person running the technical aspect, you still need to have some sort of understanding. You should spend a bit of time to understand the mechanics of the problem. Try to have a broad overview of what skills is needed to solve the problems so that even when you form the team, you can better address the problem as a team.
Speaking of events:
AIM's next talk (Exploring the 5 Green Career Paths | Asia Institute of Mentoring x Impact Underdogs) features Janet Neo, Executive Board Member Temasek Foundation Liveability, and Cindi Wirawan, Millennial Career Coach and Talent Development Manager.
Sustainability and ESG are where you’ll find some of the fastest-rising jobs in 2022 and beyond.
It is heartening to see talks like this mapping out opportunities for those looking for a career that makes a positive impact on people, planet, and profit.
Yes, the entrepreneur journey can get overwhelming...
... And a supportive community helps
As you're working on your entrepreneur green career path, it can be overwhelming sometimes.
What is really important is to keep yourself centered with a community.
This can be your team.
This can be a group of like-minded people who feel passionate about a particular topic.
This also can be your friends who can understand what you do and why you're doing it.
Basically surround yourself with people who are there to support you so that you can keep this journey going because entrepreneurship can sometimes be a very, very lonely journey.
Yes. Every startup is unique.
The founder may feel like they experience a certain kind of issue, but what is actually happening is a lot of the entrepreneurs and a lot of founders may experience the same things.
It's only when we come together, then we realize how universal some of the experiences are.
When Surya speaks to founders, that's one thing that keeps coming up, which is they need a support ecosystem.
That is why we've actually moved from running incubation programs to building a collaborative digital platform online, a web platform called app.interseed.co.
You can actually see the ecosystem in Southeast Asia: who are the different players, and who is working on what. There are also some people who are just interested in sustainability.
We are forming the ecosystem for you.
We also have funding opportunities, knowledge resources, and we recently soft launched a volunteering portal inside as well.
The people in this community, they do care about sustainability. So it's more targeted. And since your networking reach will be more targeted, you can be more confident that the skill sets of people you want to collaborate with might be in this community!
See you on the sustainability platform!
01:10 Astronaut Test
02:35 Getting Started
03:35 Understanding the Problem
05:45 app.interseed.co's Platform