Entrepreneurial potential to tackle climate change driven home at COP26

·3 min read
Priya Velusami is the founder of sustainable kidswear and accessory brand Pri Pri
Priya Velusami is the founder of sustainable kidswear and accessory brand Pri Pri

The vital role of the nation’s 6 million small businesses in helping the UK get to net zero by 2050 was driven home at COP26 in Glasgow, when Small Business Saturday kicked off its UK roadshow at the UN Climate Change Conference.

Featuring a striking fleet of zero emissions ‘small business style’ vehicles, to highlight the sustainable switches many small businesses are making or considering, the campaign arrived at the Summit with an electric van, car, scooter and delivery bike, to meet leaders.

While on the ground in Glasgow, the grassroots, non-commercial campaign highlighted small businesses in Scotland and across the UK that are embedding sustainability into the heart of their businesses.

BT Skills for Tomorrow are supporting the tour, and BT's Head of Environmental Sustainability Gabrielle Ginér visited the Small Business Saturday team at COP26
BT Skills for Tomorrow are supporting the tour, and BT's Head of Environmental Sustainability Gabrielle Ginér visited the Small Business Saturday team at COP26

“It’s never been more important for small businesses to recognise the part we play in the fight against climate change. It was engrained in me from a young age to reuse and repurpose everything, so running a sustainable business where nothing goes to waste has always been a priority. I’m hopeful that COP26 will raise awareness of the urgency of the issue and make a difference both at a higher level and day to day” said Priya Velusami, founder of Pri Pri, an upcycled kidswear and accessories brand.

Business and political leaders, including the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion Andrew Griffith, were also interviewed live by the campaign.

“As 99% of all businesses, and responsible for a now estimated third of all UK emissions, small businesses must be at the very heart of the nation’s response to the climate crisis,” said Michelle Ovens CBE, Director Small Business Saturday UK.

“Small businesses offer a grassroots, agile response to sustainability, and will be the source of innovation in our society as we move to a more sustainable world.”

The Tour will now visit over 20 towns and cities, as part of the countdown to Small Business Saturday, which celebrates small business success and encourages consumers to 'shop local' and to support businesses in their communities.

Once again supported by BT Skills for Tomorrow, The Tour is offering entrepreneurs all over the country a month-long programme of free online training and skills support on a range of small business topics, including virtual business mentoring and workshops.

Small Business Saturday UK’s zero emissions tour features a fleet of fully electric vehicles
Small Business Saturday UK’s zero emissions tour features a fleet of fully electric vehicles

“Despite the hugely tough period small businesses have endured across the UK, we have seen many businesses embrace new ways of working and a shift towards digital”, said Chris Sims, BT’s managing director for its SoHo (Single/Small office, Home office) unit.

“The Tour is a fantastic initiative to reach out and support small businesses with the digital skills they need as they look to scale up in key areas such as digital marketing and sustainability, and we are delighted to be supporting it again this year.”

Small businesses can follow The Tour live online and take part by booking a place on free workshops or one-to-one mentoring sessions via the ‘My Business Section’ on the Small Business Saturday website.

Small Business Saturday takes place on 4 December this year. Now in its ninth year in the UK, the campaign last yearachieved record-breaking success with an estimated £1.1 billion spent with small businesses across the UK on the day, according to research from American Express, the campaign’s founder and principal supporter in the UK.