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Be Green

Be Your Own (green) Boss!

For the longest time, the environment and economy were considered separate. I guess they had to be--given that most of the economy was based on debasing the environment. But I digress. If, in these tough times, you find yourself without work, take heart. It might be the best thing that ever happened to you. Because if you're interested in starting up a company--especially one that's environmentally and socially sustainable-- then there's tons of opportunity just waiting for you. Seriously!
Just ask the co-founders of OOM Ethikwear, an organic cotton clothing company in Montreal. They did it and so can you!
PS: OOM has graciously given us a $50 gift certificate to give one of you. Read on to find out how to win!

About Oom (pronounced like it's spelt: ooooom)
The core company is tiny, with just 3 full time employees and one part-timer. But they help provide tons of local employment. How? They work with various social organizations to help the marginalized, disabled and desperately poor get job training and paid work. And they provide good work conditions and fair wages. So when you wear an OOM T-shirt, you can do so with pride, knowing that it's been sewn by someone who would otherwise be struggling to make ends meet (if they could find work at all). OOM also makes its adult and baby clothing from organic and fair-trade organic cotton. This helps reduce the amount of pesticides that end up in the environment (not to mention improving the conditions of cotton workers). Their labels are printed on recycled paper and are assembled by disabled workers who would otherwise be unable to find employment. You'll know an OOM item by its postive message... oh, and their trademark red button (which signifies their fight against exploitation).

So how did they do it?
I asked Pascale Clauzier, one of the co-founders of the company. She said that it started with her desire to do something positive and creative. For her, that meant T-shirts with positive and inspiring messages on them. So she hooked up with a business partner and contacted the following organizations:

Emploi Quebec: They help self-employed people start up their own companies and actually provide up to $320 a week for the first year to supplement an entrepreneur's income as they get started and build their clientele.

SAJE Montreal: This organization helps entrepreneurs develop a viable business plan and deal with all that hairy scary stuff like finances and accounting and filing taxes as a company. They have some great social networking as well.

Cercles D'Emprunt: Loosely translated, this means "Borrowing Circle". Pascale says this resource was incredible in the early days. The Cercle puts young entrepreneurs in touch with each other--sort of like an AA meeting where everyone gets together and shares their experiences. With a community of like-minded people around you and the synergy that creates, it becomes a lot easier to weather the ups and downs of a new business.

Grants: And let's not forget that lovely government money to help start up.

So, tonight, we're giving away one $50 certificate to OOM Ethikwear. For a chance to win, you have to write (or call) in with YOUR idea for an environmentally and socially sustainable business. If you were your own boss, what would you do to make this world a better place (while making a comfortable living)?
Leave me a comment or call our Talkback Line: (514) 597-5626

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Comments (2)

koushika patel


hi geeta,

my idea for an enviromentally and socially sustainable business would be a flower shop that sells flowers that are pesticide free... not only would this be good for the enviroment but also for the people growing and cultivating them.

ps. we love your show !

Posted March 24, 2009 10:44 PM

Elena Kozlova


Before, I really wanted to make a business that would maybe clean clothes and houses with all organic and earth-friendly materials, but some have already done so...
So now, I think a good business would be: Park designing. No matter how big or small, since I think that even backyards could use some organizing. Like, it would have the most air-producing trees and/or plants as possible, all the while keeping it pretty and vast enough.

I think that there's a lot of people going to parks nowadays, so that tendency would help the business!

Posted March 26, 2009 06:02 PM

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