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Good business, good works

m-pesaOne of the most exciting and ongoing developments in the world of sustainability and the shift to green thinking is the recognition that this doesn’t have to be a burden. Firms can start to clean up their acts, while also finding new ways to profit from it. Just as Toyota’s risky investment into a new kind of hybrid engine — which raised the bar on fuel efficiency, something that wasn’t even a debate in the US a few years ago — has paid off in the form of dramatic demand for its vehicles, so others are seeing opportunity too.

Last week, a bunch of firms, including Vodafone, were discussing efforts to create new forms of mobile commerce in developing markets. Not only will this be a big new source of business (after all, Africa is the fastest growing mobile market right now), but it’s also transforming people’s lives in Kenya and other countries where commerce is far from smooth. It seems to have the potential to make sim cards an effective form of bank account. We’ve been regularly seeing amazing and varied stories of how people’s lives have been improved in some way as a result of easy commerce.

We raised our eyebrows a little about Vodafone’s latest corporate responsibility report, which highlighted cuts in roaming fees (which happened to be mandatory), but we wholeheartedly applaud the efforts being made by it and a range of others in this space. Sometimes, good business can also for a force for good.

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