Gender equality, or more specifically, women's equality and empowerment, is marked out as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. Even though it's claimed in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Women's Entrepreneurship report 2019 that 231 million women launched or operated businesses in the 59 economies worldwide. According to Visa's second annual State of Female Entrepreneurship report, 66% of women still report difficulty obtaining funding needed to succeed compared to men entrepreneurs.
No matter existing gender inequality in the business sphere, women entrepreneurs not only continue bringing incredible ideas every year. More inspiringly, those women give special attention to succeeding the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially fighting against environmental changes.
Acknowledge how women entrepreneurs lead the fight for the environment by building relevant solutions to recycle plastic waste, creating sustainable cosmetics products and protecting threatened trees in the following article. Also, learn more about what kind of SDG-focused ideas developed 3 Nordic-Baltic Women Innovation Sprint winners.
Recycling plastic waste into stronger bricks than concrete
Back in the 20 century, plastic was one of the most genuinely valued inventions. As we can think, since then, plastic went from one man's treasure to more likely one man's trash. According to the United Nations Single-use plastic report 2018, about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year. It's approximately an equivalent of the entire human population's weight. Whether on the ground or in a river, plastic waste takes hundreds of years to decompose. Nowadays, the world's environment faces many problems primarily caused by plastic waste since our planet is literally drowning in plastic.
Even fighting for the environment is vast. Female entrepreneurs keep bringing crucial solutions to make the earth a place with lower plastic waste. One of the eco-friendly idea authors is Nzambi Matee, a Kenyan material-engineer, who recycles plastic into bricks that are stronger than concrete. Every unrecycled plastic piece most likely litter nature and streets - why not transform it into another usable product? Nzambi founded Gjenge Makers, a business that transforms plastics into eco-friendly and long-lasting construction material - bricks. At Gjenge Makers, they sort plastic waste and process these using the latest cutting-edge technologies, also created by Nzambi. Later, plastic pieces are combined with sand to form a mixture mold into various products. Last year, Gjenge Makers won as a Young Champion of the Earth 2020 Africa winner at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Image author: Vitamina Poleznova
Clean and sustainable cosmetics
Cosmetics is another massive, not eco-friendly industry that has a severe effect on the environment. Most mainstream make-up products are filled with chemicals that usually end up in soil and oceans, destroying wildlife as well as natural habitat. Despite toxic ingredients, the cosmetics industry is well-known for its crazy use of plastics - mostly packaging. Let's not forget the cruel experiments and testing on animals.
Tiila Abbitt, a long-year product development guru, helps bring the cosmetics industry in a sustainable and eco-friendly direction. Her founded company - Āether Beauty presents 100 % organic, sustainable, and cruelty-free beauty product formulas. Also, the brand introduces completely environment-friendly packaging. Tiila's genuine passion for product development and sustainability positively impacts massive plastic pollution and toxic chemicals' use in the cosmetics industry. In 2020, Āether Beauty was granted a year Eco Beauty Award by Byrdie.
Image author: Diana Polekhina
Deforestation isn’t the elephant in the room anymore
Let's talk about another environmental headache - deforestation. Multiple urbanizations, agricultural and mining activities led to the highly decreased forest areas across the world. According to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, deforestation has robbed the world of roughly 420 million hectares since 1990, mainly in Africa and South America. Without saying, trees' loss does tremendous harm to natural ecosystems, biodiversity, and the climate.
Charlotte Horler stands in the fight against climate and environmental change by protecting forests. Charlotte founded NULA Carbon company, which helps individuals and companies offset their unavoidable emissions and, in this way, protect threatened forests. The produced range of packages allows individuals to offset their own or their families' lifestyles on a subscription basis. For example, an average British adult protects 4.1 acres of forest each year. Also, NULA Carbon makes carbon offsetting accessible and engaging, helping to keep up the earth's positive climate.
Image author: Meritt Thomas
SDG-focused teams that won Nordic-Baltic Women Innovation Sprint
It's fantastic to see more women starting businesses to fight for the world's environment and positive impact.
Last year, 33 teams worked on SDG-driven ideas during the organized Nordic-Baltic Women Innovation Sprint. It was incredible to see women from 21 countries passionate about creating solutions to various societal and environmental problems. 15 teams made it to the final, from which 3 became the winners of the sprint.
The first place winner became the "KnowYourFood" team, an online app solving one of the biggest societal problems caused by global warming and climate change. "KnowYourFood" develops a solution to inform customers about the food products' sustainability indicators. The "BoardMeMore" team was the second-place winner. Copenhagen's ladies' team creates a sports equipment rental platform, where private individuals can rent their equipment to each other (P2P). The third-place winners were the "Algae Hive" team, which developed a solution for making organic agricultural fertilizers from algae.
Read more about the Nordic-Baltic Women Innovation Sprint winners.
Written by Kristina Kirkliauskaite