Nature-Based Business Accelerator Focuses on People, Planet, and Prosperity

botanical products from an accelerating appalachia nature-based business
Botanical products from an Accelerating Appalachia Nature-Based Business

Sara Day Evans hopes to create more than new trends – she is creating a disruptive shift in the way business is done with better ways for us to prosper. She founded Accelerating Appalachia, the first Nature-Based Business accelerator of its kind in the nation, based in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Her program provides support to innovators who are solving environmental or social problems with programs with the capacity to scale.

Evans believes, “It is important to support this growth of a diversity of sectors of nature-based innovations for a sustainable economy; regionally, nationally, and across the globe.”

Nature-Based Business sectors include food systems, craft brewing, value-added natural products, climate technologies, sustainable textiles, and more. The eleven companies chosen from more than 100 applicants are: Appalachian Botanical Alliance; Appalatch, Climate Alive, Carolina Ground LLC; Echoview Fiber Mill, Gallolea Pizza Kits, Highland Craftsmen, Inc., Native Touch, LLC,  Riverbend Malt House,Smoking J’s Fiery Foods, and Veterans to Farmers.

Not only are these companies all innovative Nature-Based Businesses, 100% have women on their founding teams, compared to 20% nationally. Plus, 65% of the more than 100 business applicants to Accelerating Appalachia are female-led.

An October 2013 New York Times op-ed column shared:

Catalyst, a research organization, found that the companies with the most women board directors earned a 26 percent higher return on invested capital than the companies with the least women.

McKinsey & Company found that the international companies with more women on their corporate boards far outperformed the average company in return on equity and other measures. Operating profit was 56 percent higher.

A 2012 study by Emory University and Village Capital found that although women entrepreneurs are performing equal-to or better-than men in terms of recent profitability, they are suffering from a lack of access to capital. Accelerating Appalachia participants gain expert mentoring and coaching for all aspects of business development, particularly financing.

sara day evans founder of accelerating appalachia
Sara Day Evans, Founder of Accelerating Appalachia

This inaugural Accelerating Appalachia session takes place from October 3 to December 7, 2013. This week, Accelerating Appalachia companies are headed to Kentucky for events to be held in partnership with The Berry Center. Last week, the companies met in North Carolina and heard from successful entrepreneurs, advisers, and investors from around the nation, including David Wilcox of Reach Scale.

“Accelerating Appalachia are convening a great eclectic group of entrepreneurs with experts who care about more than just making a pitch. The outcome potential from this hybrid vigor is exciting,” says Wilcox.

Women are creating positive opportunities for themselves with successful enterprises that balance benefits to people, planet, and prosperity. For more about Accelerating Appalachia’s mission, programs, and companies, visit acceleratingappalachia.org.

Dayna Reggero devotes her time to working for all that is good, socially-responsible, and sustainable. You can connect with Dayna on Twitter.

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