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Varieties of Green Business

Industries, Nations and Time

Geoffrey Jones

This book provides rich new empirical evidence on green business as it examines its variation between industries and nations, and over time. It demonstrates the deep historical origins of endeavors to create for-profit businesses that were more responsible and sustainable, but also how these strategies have faced constraints, trade-offs and challenges of legitimacy. Based on extensive interviews and archives from around the world, the book asks why green business succeeds more in some contexts than others, and draws lessons from failure as well as success.
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Chapter 4: Financing sustainability

Geoffrey Jones, Emily Grandjean and Andrew Spadafora


This chapter examines the history of social banks and microfinance. Both institutions were designed to finance people and businesses in the interests of achieving social and environmental sustainability. Social banks were largely a European phenomenon, often inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, and heavily invested in supporting organic agriculture, renewable energy and Waldorf schools. Microfinance institutions reimagined impoverished individuals in emerging markets as creditworthy individuals who could use small loans to gain financial independence. Both social banks and microfinance have had significant positive environment and social impacts, but on a limited scale. Social banks were constrained by the limited willingness of savers to invest in them. Microfinance achieved greater scale than social banking, but the concept was sometimes abused by conventional banking institutions in exploitative ways, while it has failed to live up to early hopes that it could both transform the lives of the poor, and be profitable.

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