A reliable, safe, supply of drinking water is essential to the survival of communities. In many places the water supply is under stress—a condition that is expected to get progressively more challenging in the future. There are several ways that municipalities can improve their drinking water supply, including conservation, purchases from external suppliers, desalination, and recycling. Recycling wastewater into potable water is attractive in many situations. However, this alternative has not always been successful—in some cases, public opposition has defeated recycling plans, while public concerns have been successfully addressed in others.
This case gives an overview of water supply issues and examples of successful and unsuccessful attempts to implement recycling programs. Programs in Singapore and Orange County, California are profiled as examples of successful recycling efforts, while failures in San Diego, California, and Toowoomba, Australia are described.
Case No: P73
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, EcoPost manufactures construction posts out of the thousands of tons of plastic waste produced daily by the city. The posts, which are manufactured using second-hand industrial equipment, are frequently used to build fences, park benches, and other objects. Because lumber is very scarce in Kenya, and subject to theft and termite damage, the posts sell very well, and the company has trouble keeping up with demand. The company’s directors are seeking financing to purchase new equipment and scale and diversify their production.
Case No: IDE02
Venture capitalist Atul Kapadia was inclined to provide seed funding for Sujeet Kumar and Michael Sinkula to found Envia Systems, a lithium-ion battery company. Admittedly, Envia was little more than the founders’ vision of an affordable electric vehicle and the potential of playing in a very large market. But for Kapadia, it was precisely these two key ingredients that made Envia attractive and akin to other early-stage investments he had made at Bay Partners.
Case No: E407
Environmental stewardship was part of REI’s culture since the company was founded, and integral to its corporate purpose. In 2005, REI began carefully measuring its environmental impact, establishing aggressive sustainability goals, and implementing programs to achieve these goals. The corporate social responsibility group, which oversaw the environmental sustainability program, took the approach that social and financial objectives should not be viewed as tradeoffs. For instance, growth objectives (increasing the number of stores and sales per store) should not come at the expense of energy consumption objectives for flat or decreasing corporate energy usage. Insisting that both objectives be met would lead to creating thinking and innovative solutions.
Case No: SM196
The United States has pursued a number of punitive economic sanctions – through executive orders, acts of Congress, and multilateral U.N. Security Council resolutions – to isolate the Islamic Republic of Iran for its refusal to comply with international inspectors regarding its suspected nuclear weapons program. The effectiveness of these sanctions, however, has been undermined by inconsistent application, inadequate enforcement and competing financial interests from private banks and corporations – including subsidiaries and affiliates of American-based companies – that invest in Iran’s energy and natural resource sectors. Challenges to the sanctions efforts will endure until the United States can secure greater cooperation from foreign governments and their own corporations to alter the regime’s behavior. Given the legal and reputational risks associated with doing business in Iran, what responsibilities do private companies have to restrict their commercial activities in Iran in light of the regime’s questionable nuclear ambitions? To what extent should national governments and multinational institutions restrict private sector activity in the interest of national security?
Case No: P75
Abstract Text: Nature plays an important role in maintaining the flow and purity of water. Human activities often degrade the quality and/or quantity of water flowing to downstream users, but maintaining natural ecosystems, and sound conservation management by those living upstream in watersheds can help provide a clean, reliable supply of water for downstream water users. Water funds are a way for downstream water users to preserve their water supply by paying to restore and conserve natural ecosystems. They also enable upstream and downstream communities to work together for mutual benefit, preserving or restoring nature’s ability to improve water quality and reliable flow, while providing economic opportunities for upstream communities.
This case introduces the concept of ecosystem services (the role that natural ecosystems play in sustaining and fulfilling human life) and “payment for ecosystem services (PES),” in which stakeholders pay in order to preserve or restore the ability of nature to provide these services. It describes water funds and other PES arrangements, together with some of the challenges that water funds face. Several examples are provided of water funds and other PES programs.
Case No: OIT104
Mountain Hazelnut Venture Limited (“Mountain Hazelnuts”) was founded with economic, social, and environmental objectives. It planned to distribute young hazelnut plants at no charge to a large number of subsistence farmers in Bhutan. The farmers would plant the trees in fallow or degraded land, tend them, and sell the resulting nuts to the company at a price negotiated between the Bhutanese government and the company. If successful, this would generate a financial return for investors, greatly increase the cash income of participating farmers, help preserve rural Bhutanese communities, and improve the environment by stabilizing hillsides, reducing erosion, and providing other benefits. Mountain Hazelnuts was the first 100 percent foreign direct investment company in Bhutan.
By early 2011, when the case is set, Mountain Hazelnuts had successfully established a nursery in rural eastern Bhutan, with a capacity to produce millions of plants. It was preparing to distribute its first trees to Bhutanese farmers—a project that would involve 10 million trees over five years, and involve about 15 percent of the country’s population.
This case is intended for use in a course on supply chain management, but can be used in classes focused on the environment, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship (for instance, within a philanthropy course), global business, or business in developing economies.
Case No: GS78