Montréal is offering guidance to entrepreneurs around sustainable development to help small businesses grow as they face the ecological transition. The “Parcours Développement Durable” program empowers businesses to implement personalized solutions in order to reduce their environmental footprint.
The program, which was created in partnership with Services Québec, Ellio and the Conseil des industries durables, facilitates a process that can sometimes be complex. “Entrepreneurs are aware that they need to change their practices, but the means to do so are not always easy to find,” said Louis-Pierre Charest, economic development commissioner for the city. “The program was created to mobilize resources in order to help entrepreneurs. We start with a challenge that the company shares, and we guide the company in implementing solutions.”
Supporting sustainable growth
Alternating training with creative thinking workshops and practicals to experiment with solutions are some of the ways that facilitators meet the specific needs of each participant. The program is also distinctive for the way it rallies participants around a theme.
“Things move forward quickly when people from different sectors of activity meet each other and share a growth challenge as well as an interest in sustainable development. Participants inspire one another and help each other think differently about their practices,” said Charest.
Each year, 20 organizations are chosen for the program. They get group training days around sustainable development themes like community creation, eco-design, shared governance and sustainable communication. They also get individualized guidance, follow-up activities and 16 . hours of workshops on skills needed for the Ecocert “Écoresponsable” level 1 certification. Women can also get special mentorship that is adapted to female entrepreneurs through the Women 4 Climate initiative.
“The program helps to create a network of leaders who will be a source of inspiration for the whole community. We believe that talking about economic growth alone is not enough. We must be consistent with sustainable development objectives, which include diversity, environment, creating a pleasant environment for employees, etc.,” said Charest.
A judicious reflection for OmniChem
Jani Beauchamp wanted to think about sustainable development in her sector when she joined the 2019 program. “I’m the co-owner of OmniChem, a chemical products company,” she explained. I signed up to find out how I could implement sustainable development practices in my sector of activity. I was looking for practical notions related to the environment, the well-being of my collaborators and responsible purchasing strategies.”
The 36-year-old entrepreneur, who did the “Parcours Innovation” program the previous year, added that the “Parcours Développement Durable” was an opportunity to question her practices and reflect strategically. “There is lots to consider with our business models, and the program gave me that chance. I also developed ties with other entrepreneurs in the group,” she said. For example, she met Claude Chaput, who was then the owner of Chaptec, a chemical products company in the medical sector. The two developed a solid business relationship. “Mr. Chaput ad had begun implementing a sustainable development program in his company. The program convinced me to buy Chaptec. We fill our empty containers and recycle used solvent according to the principal of circular economy. It makes sense socially,” she said.
The program also helped OmniChem implement local sourcing solutions. The company is even pursuing a new environmental certification. Coaching gave Beauchamp the chance to reflect on her company philosophy and create a new Web site that reflected it. “Afterwards, I kept working with some of the facilitators and participants. The program was the beginning of a whole new stage. I would recommend it to any entrepreneur!”
Would you like to be part of the next “Parcours Développement Durable” program? Visit parcoursddpme.ca.