Little Green Spark, a Phnom Penh-based start-up is aiming to help companies improve their overall environmental footprint. Cambodia Investment Review went to talk to founder Sarah Kolbenstetter about her overall aims for the company and the environmental sector as a whole.
As Cambodia works towards both its upper middle-income economy and towards the its UN sustainability goals, both corporate responsibility and consumer concerns about the environment are becoming increasingly important. This though is a sector the government increasingly wants to see in the hands of the private sector, rather than the NGO sphere, which is where companies like Little Green Spark come in.
Founded in late 2021 by Cambodian resident Sarah Kolbenstetter, describes the company as an environmental consultancy firm: “to contribute to the reduction and improved management of the waste generated by businesses and organizations operating in Cambodia”.
What does environmental consultancy entail in Cambodia?
While the industry can take on many forms, such as advising on carbon, or plastic credits, Sarah was keen to point out how Little Green Spark is a little more proactive in how it advises companies stating: “When we go into a business it is intending to help them reduce waste and improve recycling now, rather than just paying a penalty to pollute as with carbon credits”.
Carbon and Plastic credits are when a company that pollutes can to a degree either pay for their pollution or “offset it” through other projects, something Sarah felt was not exactly the perfect solution.
“I feel that carbon credits are flawed in that I do not think you should incentive people to continue creating waste, but rather fix the problem at the source. If a company can just pollute, but then buy credits there is no incentive to go green,” Sarah said.
This is exactly what Little Green Sparks does by going into other companies and offering various programs from a day to a full months training program, with Sarah explaining: “We do one-day training sessions, where we look at problems and offer solutions, as well as more intense one moth programs, which also involve us going back after 6 months to check in what progress has been made”.
For this companies can receive a certificate of completion, with Sarah stating that they were working with various bodies for the company to receive some form of accreditation.
Achieving the United Nations Sustainability Goals
In addition, to consulting and giving a “feel good” factor for companies, Little Green Sparks was also offering tangible results by giving both corporate and government agencies accreditations, particularly with regard to the UN Sustainability goals.
“Through working with Little Green Spark we can directly help with the achievement and implementation of 14 of the UN sustainability goals, such as climate action and the fight against deforestation,” Sarah said.
The United Nations have set a goal of achieving 17 sustainability goals by 2030, with Cambodia not only being a signatory but having also added its own 18th goal, namely the de-mining of the country.
As for how business was going Sarah was extremely upbeat telling us: “We are finding companies are increasingly interested in using businesses like ours, quite simply because as people get richer they care much more about corporate responsibility. Companies want to deal with this in a business-to-business fashion rather than relying on NGOs”
And as for company growth, it was all about getting the word out there about the work they do with Sarah finally adding: “We joined EuroCham this year which has been great for networking, but we really need more people to know about our work so that we can scale and thus help Cambodia become more an environmentally friendly and clean country”.