The Global Language of Business

10,000 small businesses become more sustainable via new ESG programme

Oct 4, 2022, by Ali Mills, Enterprise Nation - Category: Sustainability

Plan it With Purpose ESG Programme Launched

Dublin, 4 October 2022 - Plan it With Purpose, a new programme to get small businesses ESG ready to support growth and profitability launches today. Delivered by small business support platform, Enterprise Nation, in partnership with AIB and GS1 Ireland, and a range of ESG experts, the programme will encourage, upskill and support 10,000 small businesses to go green over the next twelve months.

  • 10,000 small businesses to be trained in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and climate resilience thanks to partnership with AIB, GS1 and Enterprise Nation
  • Free digital training to upskill SMEs in ESG best practice, helping increase profitability.
  • Exchange Series will connect SMEs with Corporates to better understand sustainability requirements to supply large scale organisations

PIWP Partner Launch PR Photo Oct 2022

PIWP Banner

Pictured: Orla Condon, Market Engagement Retail SME in AIB; Alec Tubridy, Industry Engagement Executive GS1 Ireland; Maria Svejdar, Head of Marketing, Communications and CX at GS1; David Rath, Head of ESG Customer Support AIB, Nicola Woods, Head of Enterprise Nation

Plan it with Purpose online diagnostic tool

Over 12 months, small and medium size businesses will receive free support via a purpose-built online platform, including a diagnostic tool, e-learning content and access to experts from the sustainability sector. The entire programme will run virtually, including events, in an effort to reduce the impacts of climate change and increase social purpose for good within the Irish business community.

The programme will also include the Exchange Series where entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to receive guidance on what sustainability and ESG measures they need to factor in if they want to become suppliers to large corporates. The first session will focus on food and drink with Sodexo. Other Exchange Series topics include fashion, beauty and wellness.

Emma Jones, Founder and CEO of Enterprise Nation, said: “Going green is no longer the preserve of large corporates. All businesses, regardless of size are now expected to have sustainability embedded in their business whether it’s packaging or production. Not only do customers expect and demand it, for any business looking to partner or supply a larger company, it will inevitably be required for procurement. And yet, a third of Irish businesses are only starting to address climate change. The drive towards sustainability has so far been customer-driven. What needs to happen next is for the small business community to respond and build responsible brands, while increasing profitability.”

Lorraine Greene, Head of Market Engagement Retail SME in AIB, said, “We are delighted to once again partner with Enterprise Nation in bringing useful and insightful resources to Irish SMEs. Sustainability is one of many challenges ahead for SMEs, and the Plan-it with Purpose programme will assist SMEs to focus on achieving their sustainability objectives. Green lending now accounts for 23% of AIB’s new lending, showing the transition to a greener future is underway, and demand for green loans is strong. AIB is committed to do more when it comes to sustainability and is delighted to support SMEs to take action now, recognising that sustainable businesses are at the heart of our communities across the country.”

Maria Svejdar, Head of Marketing, Communications and CX at GS1 said, “Today as the world's focus shifts to tracking and sharing sustainability and ESG metrics, we are committed to supporting the Irish business community, and in particular SMEs, with their efforts to become more efficient, to reduce waste and minimise costs right across their general business and supply chain processes. Using standards is one way in which businesses can cut unnecessary costs, remove duplication of effort, minimise errors and make best use of limited resources, to further their achievement of the environmental, social and governance targets they have set.

“Research we conducted in 2021 shows that consumers are increasingly making buying decisions with environmental sustainability in mind. Feedback from the survey suggests that many SMEs in Ireland have made their first few tentative steps towards environmental sustainability but are unsure where to go from there.”

Leading ESG expert, Raquel Noboa, Founder and CEO of Fifty Shades Greener said, “Monitoring and reporting organisational environmental and social impact has never been more important than now. SMEs that have ESG strategies stand to get better financial rewards and funding from the public and private finance sectors. The first step for anyone embarking on an ESG journey is to MEASURE, because what gets measured can be managed. Diagnostic tools that allow us to take measurement of our current status, are key to be able to identify opportunities for improvement in the different areas we need to take into consideration for transparent ESG reporting.”

AIB Research carried out in July 2022 found that sustainability has become an increasingly important factor when making business decisions. Over the past two years, 44% of businesses have demanded more sustainable actions from their suppliers or switched to more sustainable suppliers. 44% of businesses have also purchased more sustainable equipment. Only 33% of businesses have availed of advice from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). 30% of businesses reported that they had not availed of advice from any public body.

The Plan it With Purpose initiative will help SMEs work out where they need to improve their performance and delivery via a digital diagnostic tool which will create an action plan and checklist to help brands define and achieve sustainability goals and offer relevant support and e-learning opportunities.

For more information about how to get involved go to


For further information please contact:

Alison Mills

Tel: 086 851 2890

About AIB

AIB Group operates predominantly in Ireland and the United Kingdom through its three core operating segments - Retail Banking, Capital Markets and AIB UK. AIB’s shares are quoted on the Irish and London stock exchanges and the bank is also a member of the FTSE4Good Index. Whether it’s adapting to a greener way of living, planning for the future, growing a business or simply navigating day-to-day life, AIB’s ambition is to be at the heart of its 2.8 million customers’ financial lives.

About GS1

GS1 is an open, neutral, not-for-profit, standards development organisation best known for providing a system of unique numbers, data carriers (e.g. barcodes) and information sharing standards relevant to products, relationships, assets, locations, services and processes.

GS1 standards improve the efficiency, safety and visibility of supply chains across physical and digital channels in 25 sectors including Retail Food and Grocery, DIY, Transport and Logistics, Healthcare as well as Construction. Its scale and reach – local Member Organisations in 112 countries, 1.5 million user company members and over 6 billion transactions every day – help ensure that GS1 standards create a common language that supports systems and processes across the globe. The GS1 system of standards is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world.

About Enterprise Nation

Enterprise Nation is a small business support platform and provider delivering support to more than 50,000 small businesses every month. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice (including a comprehensive resources library), events, acceleration support and networking.

Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Emma Jones, also co-founder of enterprise campaign StartUp Britain. She is author of best-selling business books including Spare Room Startup, Working 5 to 9, Go Global, Start a Business for £99 and the StartUp Kit,. She is a frequently called-on and regular media commentator on a range of issues which affect the growing base of small businesses with 1-10 employees.

Tags: ESG, sustainability, Enterprise Nation, Ireland, AIB,