Can Mixing Big Banking, With Entrepreneurial Agility, Be A Route To A Low Carbon Future?

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May 11, 2021

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This article was first posted on Global Banking & Finance by SaveMoneyCutCarbon CEO, Mark Sait

It was nearly 10 years ago when I was invited to what I refer to as a “futures presentation” – to focus your time and personal capital in the future.

I recall two presentations at this invite-only event. The first was on the merging of phones, computers and the internet, morphing into what we now as the smart phone.

I recall witnessing the second presentation, where it was suggested that in 10 years’ time, so fast forward to 2019/20,  people would be rioting in the streets over this thing called global warming and carbon footprint.

The further prediction was that 10 years after that, so think 2030, there would be conflict over the shortage of water.

I note that in December 2020, to address the dire need for water, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange made a historical move: for the first time, it allowed investors to trade water as a commodity on the stock market, so maybe this prediction will also come true.

At the time of the presentation, I admit I was far from an eco-warrior, jetting regularly back and forward from my offices in London and LA. Even today, I shie away from the title often given to me in interviews on the BBC and in National newspapers, as ‘Mark Sait, the Eco Warrior’.

I believe this label still has negative connotations to the masses, and it is the wider population that we need to convert, not the already green converted.

Fast forward to my UK based business and apply name SaveMoneyCutCarbon.com, which seems to be in the right place at the right time, as many of the predictions that got me to start his business are starting to materialise in front of our very eyes.

The growth of the Greta (Thunberg) phenomenon and more recently with high profile pledges from Boris Johnson, Biden and many world leaders.

However, I argue that there is virtually a “go to “brand for everything in our lives from buying a car to ordering a takeaway, but no such “go to online brand” exists for sustainability & carbon reduction.

I am well on my way to filling this void against a huge market opportunity.

In 2019, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimated that the total costs of getting to Net Zero would be £50bn per year. The UK’s Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) put the figure at £70bn per year, or over £1 trillion by 2050.

SaveMoneyCutCarbon aims to be that brand.

Now with a fast-growing easy to access, online brand “that does what it says on the tin” with three distinct shop fronts serving homes and consumers; trade and small business; and larger organisations and the public sector.

Every business needs its ‘secret sauce’ and in my business, there is now what they call internally the “impact” technology stack.

This allows us to test and track the impact of every product we sell (we now have over 45 major manufacturers selling on the platform from the largest LED lighting brands through to companies making eco-toilet rolls).

From a customer perspective, consumers in their own homes can see the impact their purchases are having across energy, water carbon and plastic reduction. The technology then powers a similar approach which can be applied to SME’s, community groups and now larger organisations with challenging ESG.

We treasure what we can measure and carbon reduction, helping the planet has been notoriously difficult to quantify and measure.

It’s exciting for customers as they simply log in to their impact dashboard and can see the real difference their purchases are having on their pocket and the planet, but the platform becomes exciting for larger corporates with ambitious ESG and carbon reduction targets, who want to move beyond planting trees, as it can show the aggregated impact across staff or a customer base.

Research at SaveMoneyCutCarbon has shown that many consumers and businesses alike still perceive going green as going to cost them more and SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s Club offering even further removes this barrier.

I believe, to bring about change, you have to be disruptive, and our Club creates a membership model. For members, we pass through the products at ‘cost’. It’s as if everyone was allowed to buy directly from the largest manufacturers.

As a result, SaveMoneyCutCarbon has attracted the attention of one of the giants of the banking and finance world, Barclays Bank.

It’s no secret that big banks, including Barclays have been getting some real “stick” even threats, from activists and shareholders about their billions invested in fossil fuels.

It was a risk for my brand to be associated with those for whom helping the planet is still perceived as just a pledge at the AGM.

However, as a pragmatist, I believe it is totally unrealistic to think the banks can just turn off investment in fossil fuels overnight. The lights would go out on day-to-day life.

So yes, the banks have to use their power to reduce their financial support for heavy carbon polluting business. But I think Barclays, and in particular the Principal Investment team, who I praise for really thinking outside the box, for acting more like entrepreneurs, even within the giant that is Barclays.

They quickly created a new fund of £175m, from which SaveMoneyCutCarbon was the first investment, which now puts two Barclays management on my board.

The bank has huge power of voice, virtually everyone in the UK has an interaction with a bank, through their current accounts, savings, mortgages, so they have huge reach into consumers, businesses and even the public sector and in Barclays case, they have a material financial commitments to carbon reduction. I believe that’s a number around £100 billion.

Combine the bank’s voice and reach, with the entrepreneurial agility of companies like SaveMoneyCutCarbon and maybe this is one clever way for the financial and banking world to really start a grassroots movement of change.

I never stand still, having used the Barclays investment to complete our technology stack. I am now out looking to raise his next scale investment round. This time I’m going to go big and in my mind.

Finding the right strategic investors is the way to this; those with ESG funds to invest, but who also have larger customer bases; big businesses in insurance, retail, online all spring to mind.

I often joke why shouldn’t every Amazon Prime customer or Tesco Club points member have the SaveMoneyCutCarbon Home Club built into their existing membership.

We could measure the impact of everything they do. Imagine the good that could do. The individual members would benefit from learning about the changes they can make in their homes, benefit from the unique pricing while the benefits from the measure impact data could be used in ESG reporting.

This final statement is provoking for anyone in finance or marketing, when consumers demand it and capital depends on it, then material change will occur.

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