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Ways Small and Medium Enterprises Can Promote Environmental Sustainability

By Natasha Parmanand, Managing Director of FedEx Express Sub-Saharan Africa Operations

Sustainability is crucial for businesses to establish resilience for the future. Therefore, businesses of all sizes are now moving forward and adopting environmentally responsible practices. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), even though they may not have the resources that large corporations do, play a significant role in driving sustainable initiatives.

A recent survey by PWC revealed that in Sub-Saharan Africa, companies are increasingly incorporating a comprehensive approach to climate risk into their corporate strategies. Already, 52% of companies in Sub-Saharan Africa anticipate significant impacts on costs, such as insurance and compliance expenses, due to increased risk.

Furthermore, consumers are showing more concern about the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies of the companies they support. In fact, a recent survey by FedEx found that eight out of 10 people expect the companies they purchase from to follow sustainable business practices.

Save resources, go digital
SMEs can reduce their environmental footprint and lower operating costs by enhancing the digital aspect of their businesses. For example, a virtual store consumes less energy, water, and sanitation resources compared to a physical store, and also operates more efficiently.

E-commerce is the foundation of the modern economy. With digital payments and a global logistics network, products can be purchased and shipped anywhere in the world.

Data-driven strategies are another way to reduce environmental impact through a digital approach. The PWC survey also highlighted that companies in Sub-Saharan Africa are behind global counterparts in adopting data-driven strategies to reduce emissions and address climate risk. Embracing such data-driven approaches to sustainability presents a growing opportunity.

Sustainable delivery solutions

Global shipping demands a significant amount of energy, resulting in substantial carbon emissions. Logistics companies play a key role in finding sustainable delivery solutions to minimize environmental impacts.

At FedEx, we take this responsibility seriously and are investing in solutions to achieve our goal of carbon-neutral operations by 2040. We are working to transition our parcel pickup and delivery fleet to zero-emission electric vehicles, reducing carbon impacts by developing eco-efficient packaging solutions, and contributing $100 million to establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, where researchers are exploring new and scalable solutions to remove excess atmospheric CO2 and reduce other greenhouse gases.

Partner with sustainable suppliers
Companies in Sub-Saharan Africa have an opportunity to implement data-driven strategies to help reduce emissions and address climate risks. Small businesses can decrease the emissions of their own processes by collaborating with logistics providers that have implemented sustainable practices.

In alignment with the carbon-neutral strategy, the FedEx® Sustainability Insights tool has been created for customers to access their estimated CO2 emissions data within the FedEx network. Customers can use this data to inform their future shipping strategies in line with their sustainability goals.

African nations are experiencing economic growth and diversification, along with ambitious regional net zero commitments, indicating that sustainable business practices will be essential for future business operations. The encouraging news is that by consistently seeking ways to achieve this, small businesses can become not only a source of financial growth but also environmental growth.

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