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Sustainability as a business opportunity

Author: Alexander Goense - Industry & Energy Sector Analyst

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20 April 2021

Banking for better, for generations to come. That's ABN AMRO's motivation. Together with clients, ABN AMRO realises a sustainable society, combats climate change and helps accelerate the energy transition. But how exactly do you do it?

'I have never met an entrepreneur who is against sustainability, but they often lack the knowledge and time to do this adequately. Despite good intentions, it often amounts to installing solar panels on the factory roof. That's just a drop in the ocean when you think about all the other options. We help entrepreneurs discover how to do things differently. We provide information about the often complex CO2 footprint of the production chain and offer alternatives. They often turn out to be profitable in practice. This turns sustainability into a business opportunity that, as far as I'm concerned, can help us win over all companies – even those that do not necessarily want to become sustainable.'

Alexander Goense is an Industry & Energy Sector Analyst. He started his career at ABN AMRO as a Relationship Manager for companies in the industrial sector. In his current role, he researches the impact of sustainability for entrepreneurs. 'I still regular talk to entrepreneurs. During these discussions, it became clear to me that ABN AMRO has an opportunity at the cutting edge between sustainability and financing. We have called it Impact Based Banking. In concrete terms, in collaboration with Ecochain Technologies, we give companies information about their CO2 emissions, identify improvement opportunities and specify which funding is needed and possible in order to implement these improvements. A good example is a producer of plastic products who switched to recycled granulate as a raw material following the Ecochain report. Due to the product's demonstrably lower CO2 impact, our client also managed to convince her customer to choose this alternative. This benefits the entrepreneur, clients and nature!'

Product as a service

Unintentionally, sustainability came Alexander's way at an early stage. 'My parents ran a large-scale arable farm. With all the legislation and regulations that came their way, they were faced with the choice of scaling up or really changing course. They did the latter, deciding to set up a small-scale organic fruit-growing business. This business opportunity turned out well for them.

I notice that under the pressure of public opinion and increasing laws and regulations, many entrepreneurs like my parents are at a crossroads where they are thinking about a sustainable earnings model for their business. We help them by constantly developing new knowledge and skills. For example, I am currently working with a team of specialists within the bank to figure out how we can best support companies in offering a product 'as a service'. A good example of this is Mitsubishi, the supplier of the lift in Circl (knowledge centre for ABN AMRO's circularity). They are paid per lift movement and thus benefit from a very long service life for minimum maintenance costs. But how do you finance that if you want to install lifts in this way across the world? Finding a solution for this helps them and our society a step further in becoming more sustainable.'

 

Author: Alexander Goense - Industry & Energy Sector Analyst

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