Students for Green Business: A Replicable Pilot Internship Program

05 December 2017 | Brindusa Fidanza
During spring and summer 2017, The Ground_Up team ran a replicable pilot internship program focused on developing green advisory skills for university students. The purpose of the internship program was to prepare university students to develop and assess a green business model and to implement their learning in one of the business cases within the GREEN-WIN research. A pilot internship demonstrator was implemented with 2 interns who worked on the business case in Indonesia. On site, students learned the essentials of green business model development and assessment under the coordination of Ground_Up team members.During the summer months the interns were involved in collecting and synthesising information about the green business model, following a methodology developed as part of the GREEN-WIN international research project. They had weekly consultation calls with the Ground_Up team members in order to discuss and clarify specific aspects and have a thorough understanding of how the business operates. After a first draft version of the green business model description was delivered by the students, the Ground_Up team followed up with a series of interactions with comments and proposals asking for specific additional information about the business model where needed and explaining why these aspects were important.
At the end of the internship period the students delivered a complete and thorough description of the green business model. Their research activity and analysis resulted in a better understanding of the business model and in a clear overview of how the business model operates, what are the strengths of the company and challenges or risks they are facing. This detailed material can serve as a guiding business plan for the future growth of In addition, the interns completed the company profile on - a deal-sourcing platform for sustainability, thus helping to increase the visibility of and facilitating access to investment opportunities. As reported by the students themselves, they learned that:
  • Applying a business model to a real company comes with many various challenges;
  • The information required to fill in a business model isn’t always easy to find and the business is in constant evolution;
  • Business models change and adapt with new information about the industry and as the entrepreneur becomes more experienced;
  • At times it can be unclear what separates a green business model from a regular business model;
  • It is easier to think about the environmental impact at the beginning of a business;
  • A good business plan is the foundation of a good organisation;
  • Practical tools and processes are needed, such as for example a financial strategy and follow up tools, a marketing strategy and a communication plan;
  • A good methodology is needed to set environmental goals and to calculate the environmental impact of the organisation.
As one of the interns put it, “the collaboration with Ground_Up helped us ask ourselves the right questions and to express goals that we wanted to reach. […] it helped to define more precisely how to concretely to put them in action.” As a result, an internship package was developed that details the internship process and includes a curriculum, a green business model survey, a sustainable business model canvas and an internship report template, which allows the program to be replicated by any other organization, institution and company.
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