Over a decade removed from its founding, the initiative SensAbility, run by students of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, continues to push the conversation forward. Aiming to “inspire, innovate, and inspire,” the 11th annual WHU Impact Summit, held in a hybrid format on April 1 at the town hall in Vallendar, placed considerable focus on the future of sustainable business and hosted an impressive roster of keynote speeches, social events, and panels. As evinced by their own ethos, SensAbility always considers how active companies can make decisions that positively impact the greater good without sacrificing their own financial security.
In a joint presentation, KarstenLöffler (Managing Director at the Green and Sustainable Finance Cluster Germany), Danijel Višević (Founding Partner of World Fund), and Sabine Kaiser (Impact Investor at RWTH Innovation) aimed the spotlight at the role of impact investing in this arena. Višević noted that the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria (i.e., the factors that allow for proper insight into how sustainable a business truly is) are imperative and not merely “nice to have.” A company that has lived up to the expectations prescribed by these criteria will have also developed a culture of success that touches all aspects of their business: happier employees, higher quality products, and a greater financial benefit.
Fridtjof Detzner knows this all too well. After having great success with his website builder Jimdo, Detzner is now Co-Founder of Planet A Ventures, an organization dedicated to supporting sustainable start-ups. The company came to be after Detzner went abroad and bore witness to unsafe working conditions, child labor, concerning amounts of landfill, and the desperation that some people feel when they have no way out of their current living situations. The way he sees things, today’s global systems need a complete overhaul from the ground up to combat these problems. With the stakes higher than ever, he noted that efforts in the world of venture capital could be routed in such a way that everybody’s quality of life could be improved: “Tomorrow’s economy is based on what we are doing today.” The WHU Sustainability Circle bolstered this argument, commenting that “businesses are the strongest and fastest drivers of change.”