Our History

The origins of the Center for Small Business and the Environment go back to 1973 when British economist E. F. Schumacher published Small is Beautiful, a prophetic book that critiqued the “big is better” assumptions of conventional economics and celebrated, instead, the role of  small-scale enterprise as a principal protector and restorer of the environment.

Small is Beautiful attracted the attention of Byron Kennard, a community organizer whose work for the Conservation Foundation in the 1960s had helped lay groundwork for the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Schumacher became Kennard’s friend and mentor and the two worked together to realize the book’s vision until the former’s death in 1977.

Decades later, Kennard observed that the revolution in communications technology vastly strengthened and expanded the capacity of small-scale enterprises to achieve efficiencies and to produce environmentally benign innovations. In the Information Age, he realized, small is more beautiful than ever.  To exploit this new and huge potential for environmental good, Kennard founded the Center for Small Business and the Environment in 1998.

Today, CSBE operates as a grassroots voluntary network of small business people who share the belief that entrepreneurial creativity and drive can protect the environment while creating jobs and economic growth.

Specifically, CSBE has identified and promoted profitable and successful small business models for environmental action.  Our projects and reports have shown how countless small businesses are:

  • Dramatically reducing their energy consumption through conservation and efficiency;
  • Creating innovations that solve or reduce environmental problems while creating new jobs; and
  • Mobilizing to support greening initiatives because they benefit economically.

“Small business is the source of most new jobs and most new technologies. Even so, climate and energy policy-makers have all too often ignored the small business community. Now, thanks in large part to the leadership of the Center for Small Business and the Environment, our community has taken its rightful place at the table where these critical policies are being hammered out.”

                           — Todd McCracken, President, National Small Business Association