2023 Impact Report

Seeds of Prosperity: Cultivating Financial Resilience in Greater Philadelphia’s Sustainable Business Ecosystem.

In 2023, SBN helped to advance and foster financial sustainability and resilience to small, values-driven businesses throughout Greater Philadelphia.

SBN's mission is to build a just, green, and thriving economy in the Greater Philadelphia region. We accomplish this by educating and growing a broad base of local, independent businesses and educating policymakers and the public.

OUR VALUES

We are committed to realizing our organizational values through our work. We recognize that we are setting an unprecedented example for how businesses and communities can coexist, collaborate, and create a more sustainable society. We pledge to champion these values and to model them in our daily work, with the goal of inspiring others to do the same. We consider our values when making any and all decisions at the Staff and Board level:
· Sustainability and Respect for the Earth
· Community Self-reliance and Cooperation
· Diversity
· Optimism
· Authenticity and Accountability
· Pioneering Leadership

We use the impact framework provided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
#6: Clean Water and Sanitation #7: Affordable and Clean Energy #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth #9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure #10: Reduced Inequalities #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities #12: Responsible Consumption and Production #13: Climate Action #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions #17: Partnerships For The Goals

Letter from SBN's Executive Director

To our community of local, values-driven independent businesses,

2023 truly highlighted the importance of financial resilience and inclusion to ensure that our local impact-oriented businesses have staying power. We saw the closure of what we consider “legacy businesses” – those businesses that have been around for 10+ years and have had a profound impact on our local communities and our environment. In recognition of this troubling trend, SBN doubled down on our support for these businesses. We are proud that in 2023 – for the first time in SBN’s 22-year history – we were able to issue a micro-grant to support local businesses through our Clean Energy Prize. We also launched our Food Saver Challenge, through which we will provide a cash prize to a local food business that advances its food waste reduction efforts. In addition, we launched our Business for Impact education series, which heavily focused on financing for sustainability and providing a much-needed lifeline for struggling businesses.

While these awards are minuscule compared to the financing needs of local businesses, they are part of our recognition of the “financing crisis” many businesses face and our growing effort to effect positive change. The lasting impact of our work is the greater recognition that our efforts – however small – are part of a greater system that we can shift in favor of positive environmental, social, and financial outcomes through our collective action with all of you. Thank you for your continued support for our work at SBN and for your actions each and every day- personally or through your work – to help us build a just, green, and thriving local economy.

In Solidarity, 

Devi Ramkissoon

Executive Director

 

*Photo credit: Jesus Rincon

Annual Highlights

In 2023, SBN nurtured a robust community of businesses and organizations committed to building a just, green, and thriving economy in the region. Through diverse programming and events, SBN empowered its members to achieve financial sustainability, embrace equitable practices and environmental resilience.

From advocating for clean energy priorities to championing Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) projects, SBN's government relations efforts paved the way for a more sustainable future.

Finally, our diverse calendar of programming fostered knowledge sharing and collaboration. Members explored best practices in green business operations, connected with potential partners, and celebrated local sustainability heroes. This dynamic exchange of ideas fueled innovation and strengthened the foundation for a thriving regional economy.

Customers

135
Members
25+
Programs & Events
2K
Awarded in scholarships
30+
Policies advanced

By joining as a “Friend of SBN,” I'm not only supporting local sustainability champions and innovators who make the world a better place, but I'm also a part of a welcoming, positive space for all our local businesses to thrive while putting people and planet at the center.”

— Kindra Mohr, Friend of SBN

Impact on Planet

By amplifying the impact of a true triple-bottom-line economy that empowers local businesses to make systemic change, SBN identifies three industries that are making a significant impact on increasing climate resiliency within our region: water, food, and energy.

In 2023, SBN continued our work in these sector specific areas, launching new campaigns to reduce food waste, assisting our members in their clean energy pursuits, and advancing green stormwater infrastructure through programs and policy initiatives.

Energy

This year, in partnership with the Energy Foundation, SBN launched its first Clean Energy Prize, supporting clean energy upgrades to a local, independent business in SBN’s membership. The prize included a one-time cash prize of $1,500 to advance any clean energy upgrade in their business emphasizing solar, refrigeration, vehicle electrification, and lighting. This year’s prize went to Jean Brillman, owner of the White Horse Coffee Roasters & Sustainable Marketplace, a café and coffee roaster based in Jenkintown, PA. Here’s what Jean said about winning the prize:

“As we continue to grow our roasting business, the grant will be used towards outfitting our new warehouse space for an additional electric coffee roaster which we will be purchasing within the next 6 months.”

 

Food

In 2022, SBN kicked off its Local Food Systems Initiative, focusing on strengthening local supply chains, reducing waste, and supporting regenerative agricultural practices. Through this initiative, in the summer of 2023, we partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to launch a Food Saver Challenge, supporting nine Philadelphia food businesses in their efforts to reduce food waste throughout the region.

Water

SBN’s GSI Partners regularly convenes local businesses working to advance the GSI industry through programming, advocacy, and community-building opportunities. This year, SBN’s GSI Partners hosted its Excellence in GSI Awards, spotlighting achievements businesses and people have made to advance sector specific public, private, and innovative projects, in addition to launching a white paper, Improving GSI Outcomes from Redevelopment in Philadelphia, with the Water Center at Penn, and the Nature Conservancy on how the City of Philadelphia’s real estate development review process can improve GSI outcomes in private development projects.

Impact on People

Sustainability is not just about the environment; it’s also about people.

In 2023, SBN doubled down on our commitment to providing more opportunities for businesses, organizations, and individuals to foster a more inclusive network that values and supports true equity. We did it in a myriad of ways, from the launch of new educational programming to offering innovative opportunities for individuals to be part of our supportive community.

Introducing a New Education Series, Business for Impact

Earlier this year, we launched our Business for Impact education series which provides trainings for local business owners on how to incorporate socially, environmentally, and financially responsible practices into their businesses. Sessions featured expert guests that explained the financial, social, and environmental connections of various topics such as “financing for sustainability” and “measuring your impact”, and offered practical ways that businesses can assess their current practices and make improvements.

Launch of Our Community of Support from Individuals

In 2023, we launched new opportunities for individuals to be part of our community. By offering individuals an ability to lend their support to our mission and our membership-participating as a Friend of SBN or a Small Business Champion, they are now able to access member events and other benefits. Both giving options, which are detailed below, are for a one-year period with the opportunity to renew each year:

    • Champion for Small Business: A donation of $275 will cover the annual membership cost for a business that cannot meet current membership dues.
    • Friend of SBN: An individual (student, consultant, etc.) interested in joining SBN’s community while giving back in an impactful way can sign up as a Friend of SBN with a $75 donation.
Cultivating More Inclusive Programming

In 2023, SBN took strides to make more inclusive programming highlighting and underscoring the needs of BIPOC-, women-, and immigrant-owned and operated businesses. From August’s Black Business Month at Grant Blvd, the nation’s first Black-owned B Corp in the fashion industry; advocating for a raise in minimum wage standards; and hosting our first-ever Spanish language events, SBN made a more concerted effort to weave equity in our work.

Impact on Profit

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy, and by cultivating opportunities and resources to support their efforts to grow and thrive, we’re able to help bolster growth and prosperity within our local economy. This past year, we supported local businesses in this effort through several ways:

Expanding Our Institutional Partners

Through our Institutional Partnerships, our members can leverage over $10,000 in resources and other benefits including free access to apply to Investors Circle through the American Sustainable Business Network, free business consulting services, and access to tools and resources to help them scale their business. To date, we have established nine local and national institutional partnerships.

Updated Membership Benefits

In addition to our 401K retirement plans, SBN offers a variety of exclusive benefits for our members. In 2023, SBN updated our membership benefits to include micro-grant funding opportunities, discounts, and special offers from partners such as Unit of Impact and Philly Foodworks to use their services and resources.

Financing and Scholarship Opportunities

SBN was able to distribute over $2,000 in scholarships and connected our members with thousands of dollars of financing opportunities this year.

FINANCIALS

Throughout our Fiscal Year 2023 (October 1, 2022-September 30, 2023), SBN’s operating budget was $605,145. We have disclosed the major categories of our revenue and expenses below.

 

Goals

Looking Forward

As local businesses in Greater Philadelphia continued to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to a new normal, one marked with inflation, global supply demand constraints, and other challenges, SBN continued to evolve to fit the needs of sustainable businesses throughout our region.

Looking forward, SBN anticipates deepening our work within our climate resiliency portfolios, offering programming, education, and community opportunities to foster sector growth and resilience, and improve our own internal systems.

As such, our goals for 2024 include:

  • Refreshing and publishing our Strategic Plan.
  • Expanding our climate resiliency portfolio to include urban forestry, funded in part by a multimillion-dollar grant with other area partners from the USDA.
  • Revamping our digital branding to better showcase the breadth of our work.