Since each new year fills us with fresh optimism, we want to highlight some of the inspiring entrepreneurs who use their skills and talent to make the world a better place.
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia
For Marie-Claude, that person is Yvon Chouinard. He’s the founder of Patagonia , the outdoor clothing brand, and a truly inspiring champion of sustainable development. Known for his pro-environment stance, Chouinard decided, at the age of 83, to donate his company—valued at $3 billion according to the New York Times—to the planet. A trust was set up to make sure his values are upheld and profits are donated to organizations that fight climate change and promote conservation.
Pilou at Saint-Adrien
Sabrina finds inspiration in Pierre-Philippe Côté, aka Pilou. He’s the driving force behind various initiatives to promote cultural, social and economic development in Saint-Adrien, in the Eastern Townships. Sustainable development is central to all his projects, which include setting up a paint workshop, Le Nid studio, La Meunerie performance hall, a self-service zero-waste grocery store, and Le BEAM film and television studio, as well as buying and renovating the village church. Le BEAM puts art in the hands of the people by providing world-class infrastructure to locals and welcoming major productions.
John and Cynthia Hardy, Green School
Julie’s shout out goes to Green School, founded by John and Cynthia Hardy in Bali. In addition to covering a regular curriculum, they also teach students how to connect with nature in their everyday lives and build the future. They’ve extended the original concept to Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand. Adapted versions have also cropped up in other countries, including Canada.
Anie Rouleau, The Unscented Company
Annie admires the determination of Anie Rouleau, the founder and CEO of The Unscented Company. Defying industry standards, her company proves that products can be both effective and sustainable. Rouleau also promotes the BCorp business model by acting as an ambassador and pioneer of the movement in Canada’s cleaning products industry. She eagerly tells people about her vision of what it means to run a sustainable business, which involves focusing on local sourcing, ethical and women-led governance, and equal opportunities. As a champion of these causes, she’s a real agent of change. In 2020 and 2021, her company was included in Canada’s Top Growing Companies, published by The Globe and Mail.
Bjarke Ingels, BIG
Vickie’s always amazed by the work of Bjarke Ingels, the founder and creative partner of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). As a fervent proponent of “pragmatic utopian” architecture, which involves producing designs that address major global issues, his creations are typically based on a multidisciplinary analysis and the outcome is often dynamic, exceptional and slightly comedic.