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Samuel O Idowu

Senior Lecturer in Accounting, London Metropolitan University, and Visiting Professor, University of Finance and Economics China

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean to you personally?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship is something close to my heart, very extremely special indeed to me. I believe the survival of our planet depends on the activities of sustainable entrepreneurs. In generations to come, moreover, I would like to be recognised and remembered as an academic whose research and publications contributed positively to our world in this field. I sincerely hope others will view me that way when I am gone!

How deeply rooted has Sustainable Entrepreneurship already become in popular thinking, do you believe, and most importantly of all, in the activities of entrepreneurs?

Our world has reoriented itself to sustainable development to a great extent in recent decades, and to Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the past few years. There is still a huge amount left to do, of course, but the journey is now beginning, and does point towards a promising future. The SEA has positioned itself as a worthy champion of the cause, and it can only be hoped that entrepreneurs worldwide, not just in Europe but everywhere, will embrace all that the organisation stands for in this area.  

In your opinion, to what extent is it possible to reconcile economic success with the creation of added value for society?

As I mentioned earlier, there has been a great deal of reorientation around the world, and we are now witnessing a new face of modern capitalism, one asking all the citizens of the world, including entrepreneurs, to behave in a sustainable way. We have all understood that only by acting in this way will we able to sustain our planet and the living creatures it supports, while also creating sustainable values for us all.

Which sectors do you think are doing the most to help Sustainable Entrepreneurship, and which still have some catching-up to do?

I would like to rephrase this question, if you don’t mind. To highlight one sector in particular as doing more than others, and to label another as not doing enough would not be my own approach to dealing with the matter. Instead, I would phrase the question as follows: ‘How can we encourage entrepreneurs in all sectors to embrace Sustainable Entrepreneurship’? The short answer to that question – although it is not the only approach, of course – is by instigating the sort of annual awards that Christina and her organisation have embarked upon in recent years. Such an approach ensures that all entrepreneurs will want to do the most for their sectors. It is a fact of life that we all want to be recognised in whatever we do, and any incentive which promotes opportunities to gain that recognition will be embraced by everyone.  

What needs to be done to create greater awareness in society and the economy?

The drive towards sustainability is everyone’s problem; we need to start introducing our children to it from a young age. Schools should focus upon it, and parents should inculcate the idea into everything they do, as they are often the first role model their children know. Then, once those children venture out into the world of work, the concept will already be second nature to them. That is my own view of how to propagate sustainability.

Politics, industry or society – which needs to be the driving force behind the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

I don’t see the quest to popularise Sustainable Entrepreneurship as a ‘one-sector show’; it is something we should all be driving forward collectively. Politicians have their part to play, as does industry, of course. Equally, in my view, society must provide an environment in which a concept like Sustainable Entrepreneurship can flourish.

How would you assess the state of international development at present, and Austria's position in the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship in particular?

There is still a lot of work to do in the drive for general awareness. European countries have been at the forefront in developing Corporate Social Responsibility and all its component parts, including Sustainable Entrepreneurship. I am a big admirer of Austria and its citizens in many respects, which may influence my comments to some extent, but I do believe the country is doing very well in this field. Just take a look at what the SEA is doing; that should sum it up for anyone.  

The SEA honours projects that are outstanding examples of Sustainable Entrepreneurship. What persuaded you to personally support this idea?

I am already a supporter of the SEA, and CSR has been a major interest of mine for more than a decade now. I jumped at the chance to help the organisation when I was asked.

What are your personal expectations of being a new jury member on the SEA 2014?

Being a new member of the panel, 2014 will be something akin to my ‘internship’ year. Consequently, I expect to watch more experienced members, to see how they have taken part so successfully over the years. I already know a few of the members of the jury personally, and hope that should hopefully help me become a respected member of the organisation.

In what way can each and every one of us help make Sustainable Entrepreneurship more relevant?

The short answer is: by being supportive of what sustainable entrepreneurs do and acting sustainably at all times.

Finally, a personal question: what is the most memorable SE project you've ever heard of, and why is this?

I will need to think carefully about this question and give you my answer another time. I would not want to give a wrong answer which could demotivate a project which should actually be classed as the most memorable.

Thank you for offering me this opportunity to express my views.