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Small Business, Big Impact: 4 reasons why SMEs should prioritise sustainability

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of private-sector growth in developing and developed economies. With concerns over climate change and social inequality growing, SMEs need to incorporate sustainability into their business strategies.

To help SMEs on this journey, the United Nations Global Compact created a new virtual learning programme designed specifically for SMEs which launches on 30 May: Small Business, Big Impact: A Six-Step Journey to Drive Sustainability and Business Growth.

But why is sustainability important for SMEs? Here are four reasons why integrating sustainability into their operations helps future-proof SMEs and is good for business.

  1. Lower operational cost and cost of capital

Implementing environmentally-focused policies encourages more efficient uses of resources and reduces operational costs. In addition, reporting progress toward sustainability goals can lower the cost of capital for SMEs. The market for ESG assets under management is on track to reach $53 trillion by 2025 and SMEs with strong sustainability performance will attract investors who prioritize companies that manage climate, labour and human rights risks.

  1. Reduced business risks

Incorporating sustainability considerations into business operations significantly reduces risk. For example, SMEs that are part of the supply chains of major multinational companies and Governments face increasing pressure to comply with global best practices and regulations for climate, human rights, labour and anti-corruption. Aligning with these practices helps prevent compliance issues. This not only mitigates risk but helps SMEs maintain good relationships with their partners and stakeholders.

  1. Increased trust

A strong sustainability action plan helps build trust with stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, investors and the broader community. It helps attract and retain top talent when employees are increasingly looking for employers who share their values and are committed to making a positive impact.

  1. New opportunities for revenue growth

Incorporating sustainability into business strategies can open up new avenues for growth. SMEs can make their products and services more sustainable, pivot to circular business models or leverage technology to bridge the digital divide and expand their customer base.


Overall, by integrating a robust sustainability strategy into their operations, SMEs not only stand to gain numerous business benefits but also contribute to a more sustainable future for all.

Ready to future-proof your SME and start making progress toward a more sustainable and resilient future?
Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur or looking to take your company to the next level as a business leader, sign up for the Small Business, Big Impact learning journey today!

The virtual programme kicks off on 30 May and is available in English, Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Registration is open and free of charge to all SMEs!