By Natasha Parmanand – Sustainability is critical for businesses to build resilience for the future. Hence, businesses today irrespective of their scale are taking a step ahead and embracing environmentally responsible practices.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), though they may not have the vast resources like large corporates, remain pivotal players in the quest to drive sustainable initiatives.

A recent PWC survey found that in Sub-Saharan Africa, a holistic approach to climate risk is increasingly being integrated into corporate strategies. Already, 52% of Sub-Saharan African companies expect significant impact on costs, including insurance and compliance expenses, due to increased risk.

On the other hand, more and more consumers are concerned about the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies of the companies they buy from. In fact, a recent FedEx survey found that eight out of 10 people expect the companies they buy from to pursue sustainable business models.

Save resources, go digital
SMEs can reduce their environmental impact, as well as lower operating expenses, by enhancing the digital component of their businesses. A virtual store, for instance, uses less energy, water, and sanitation resources than a physical store, while also operating more efficiently.

E-commerce is the retail platform of the modern economy. Thanks to digital payments and the global network of logistics, products can be bought and shipped to any part of the world.

Data-driven strategies are another method of reducing environmental impact by taking a digital approach. The PWC survey also noted that Sub-Saharan African companies lag their global counterparts in terms of adopting data-driven strategies to reduce emissions and mitigate climate risk. Embracing such data-led approaches to sustainability therefore presents an emerging opportunity.


Sustainable delivery solutions

Global shipping requires vast amounts of energy, which can generate significant carbon emissions. Logistics companies therefore have a major role to play in finding sustainable delivery solutions to minimise environmental impacts.

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


Partner with sustainable suppliers

Sub-Saharan African companies have an emerging opportunity to adopt data-driven strategies to aid emissions reduction and climate risk mitigation.Small businesses can minimize the emissions of their own processes by partnering with logistics providers that have built sustainable processes.

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

Africa’s nations are continuing to grow and diversify economically, along with ambitious regional net zero commitments; implying that sustainable business practices are the way of doing business in future. The good news is that by constantly looking for ways to do that, small businesses can become not just a source of financial growth, but environmental growth too.


Natasha Parmanand is the MD of FedEx Express sub-Saharan Africa operations