The lives of many and the face of PERC were indelibly impacted some 11 years ago when Bruce Yandle, PERC senior fellow and Dean Emeritus of the Business School at Clemson University, met with members of the Searle Family and their Kinship Foundation. The meeting was to discuss the idea of creating a leadership institute that would focus on environmental managers and issues. What became of that meeting was an idea whose time had come: to bring management principles, economics, property rights, markets, and business ideas to the environmental movement. Soon after, the idea of a leadership institute was born and in June 2001, the Kinship Conservation Institute convened in Bozeman, MT, as a partnership between PERC and Kinship Foundation. The Institute has evolved and is part of TEAM (Teaching Environmentalists about Markets), and operates today as PERC’s Enviropreneur Institute.
What is an enviropreneur, a phrase and concept created at PERC in the teenage years of the Institute? Well, each of the 167 current fellows and the crops yet to come will each paint a slightly different picture for you, but the overarching theme is a cunning desire to create environmental assets out of environmental problems. An enviropreneur sees an opportunity where others might see waste, pollution, nastiness, sadness and sorrow. An enviropreneur sees a chance to do well while doing good.
Enviropreneurship is the subject of my essay in the latest PERC Reports, which will hopefully give you a taste of what this program has accomplished over the past decade. You can also see what some of the very first enviropreneurs from 2001 are up to in the “Where Are They Now” section accompanying the article. Indeed, the sun never sets on the Perconian empire!