Sustainable businesses have made huge strides in areas like improving access to renewable energy and improving health outcomes for the world’s poor, and we believe there’s an opportunity in the seafood sector as well. The big question is, how do we help seafood entrepreneurs design businesses that have positive social and environmental impacts?
How can seafood businesses create positive impacts?
The 80+ entrepreneurs that have entered the competition operate at different points in the seafood supply chain, at different scales, and in different geographies. There are potential environmental benefits that can be generated by each venture, including impacts on habitats, fisheries management, energy and water use, or other resources. Social impacts can range from creating access to fresh food in places where distribution channels do not reach, to breaking up price controls on fishing docks, to fair labor practices.
Avoid the negative in addition to creating the positive
Each company must plan and define their impacts in a way that makes sense for their specific business. They must set goals for creating positive impacts and, at the same time, ensure they are not unintentionally creating negative impacts, by looking at their own operations and at the supply chains that carry products into and out of their enterprise. For example, requiring seafood suppliers to have fair labor policies in place can mitigate the potential for slave labor to be found in businesses’ supply chains. We believe this absence of the negative is as powerful as the presence of the positive.
Measure impact in the course of business
Fish 2.0 has developed a structure to assist seafood businesses in defining and communicating the metrics they can use to quantify and prove the changes they are making. We are asking entrepreneurs to articulate specific, measurable outcomes that they can control and are directly linked to the daily operations of their businesses.
For example, companies with new, land-based aquaculture technologies can demonstrate how much feed, energy and water they are saving compared to “business as usual” fish farms, and they can track the salaries they pay to people who work on the farms or income generated by local businesses who work with them. Tracking the number of jobs created is not enough; it is the quality of the jobs created which creates true social impact. Businesses measure impact by measuring things important to their business performance, like income increases among poor communities, volumes of sustainable seafood species sold, and changes in energy or waste usage. These metrics show investors and the public how the companies affect social and environmental change.
Increase impact with business growth
Over the past seven months we have winnowed down 80+ entries to a pool of 10 finalists and 11 runner-ups. On November 12 we will gather at Stanford University in Palo Alto, where these entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to impact investors and explain how they will measure their impacts while sustainably growing their businesses.
We are excited to see the competing businesses eagerly adopting this metrics framework, thinking about social and environmental change as key elements of business planning and competitive advantage, rather than as afterthoughts or tag-ons of additional work.
Inspire and attract investors
All of the Fish 2.0 finalists have defined and improved their communication about their social and environmental impacts. They now have powerful and inspirational stories about their potential to both do well and do good. We urge investors who want to do the same to join us in learning more about these new enterprises.