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The Sustainable Business Canvas

53% of startups states sustainability is essential for their business model to be viable. By designing the Sustainable Business Canvas, we want to propose a toolbox for entrepreneurs to embrace sustainability as a core for their business model.

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Sustainable Business Canvas

The Sustainable Development Goals

They are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
This section let the business owner check the goals his/her business addresses.

Key partners

Are crucial for successful business model. They can help you to get faster on market or complement your value proposition. Key Partners can also help you compensate your negative externalities.
  • Who are our Key partners?
  • Who are our key suppliers?
  • Who can help in negative externalities?
  • Which key resources are we acquiring from partners?
  • Which key activities do partners perform?
Optimization & economy
Lower risk and uncertainty
Acquisition of particular resources and activities
Key partners

Key Activities

lists all the activities you will undertake to build your value proposition, customer service, manage your channels, etc. Your activities will probably have a negative externalities. Take it into account to see how you can better build your value proposition
Key Activities

Key resources

lists all the resources you need for your key activities and business (skills, employees, natural resources, etc.). You might take into account sustainability in the resources you need.
    Key Resources

    Value proposition

    defines what you want to bring to your customers and what make this proposition unique. Sustainability can be one of most important aspect of your business model. This is also the key driver for positive externalities.
      Value Propositions

      Customer relationships

      define the type of relation you want to build with the customers. Do you want to build tailor made services or self-service approach?
      • Transactional - no real relationship
      • Long-term
      • Co-Creation
      • Automated services
      • ...
      Customer relationships


      represent all the ways you will use to get in touch with your customers in all the phases of your business cycles.
      • Through which channels do our Customer Segments want to be reached?
      • How are we reaching them now?
      • How are our channels integrated?
      • Which ones work best?
      • Which ones are most cost-efficient?
      • How are we integrating them with customer routines?
      Channel phases
      1. Awareness: how do we raise awareness about our company’s products / services?
      2. Evaluation: how do we help customers evaluate our organization’s value proposition?
      3. Purchase: how do we allow customers to purchase specific products & services?
      4. Delivery: how do we deliver a value proposition to customers?
      5. After sales: how do we provide post-purchase customer supports?
      Bonus: how do you evaluate the sustainability in each of the phase?

      Customer segments

      define the type of customer you want to address. Are you in B2C business or B2B? Which type of businesses and customers? If your business addresses sustainable goals, you might refine better your customer segments to see how they can be bound to your value.
      • For whom are we creating value?
      • Who are our most important customers?
      Mass market
      Niche market
      Customer segments

      Cost structure

      defines the different costs your business will need to support your key activities & resources as well as all the delivering of your value proposition. Sustainability can represent also a cost for example to create carbon footprint reports. Keep in my managing negative externalities will have an impact on your cost structure.
      • What are the most important costs inherent in our business model?
      • Which Key Resources are most expensive?
      • Which Key Activities are most expensive?
      • Is your business more: cost driven or value driven?
      Sample characteristics
      Fixed costs (salaries, rents, utilities)
      Variable costs
      Economies of scale
      Economies of scope
      Cost structure

      Revenue streams

      are all the way you have a generate revenue from your value proposition. Don’t forget, revenue streams need to generate more than the cost you will have. Note that more and more businesses also try to make customer pay for negative externalities.
      • For what value are our customers really willing to pay?
      • For what do they currently pay?
      • How are they currently paying?
      • How would they prefer to pay?
      • How much does each Revenue Stream contribute to overall revenues?
      Asset sale
      Usage fee
      Subscription fees
      Brokerages fees
      Revenue streams

      Negative externalities

      occur when delivering your value proposition (product or service) causes a harmful effect to a third party. Many businesses have negative externalities. Listing them offers a unique opportunity to better position your business and unleash new business opportunities.
      • How does your Value Proposition impact negatively your environment?
      • Your Partners?
      • Your Ressources?
      • Your Channel?
      Negative externalities

      Positive externalities

      are all the positive aspects of your business. Which third parties will benefit from your business.
      • How your Value Propositions will positively impact your environment?
      • In what manner your Value Proposition target one or multiple UN sustainable goals?
      Decrease CO2 emissions
      Improve water quality
      Lower pollutions
      Improve global health
      Positive externalities
      Close Popup
      Designed by Loïc Bar, an impact entrepreneur who founded Opinum and Coophub EU.

      The Sustainable Business Model enriches the original Business Model Canvas with 3 additional sections :

      A list of UN sustainable goals

      The main objective here is to let the business owner check the sustainable goals targeted by the business.

      For startups, it’s also a good way to reminde that your impact can be as important as your revenue stream.


      This block ask the business owner or startupper to imagine what would be the negative impact of its business. For example: SaaS companies, by using Cloud computing power, use a lot of energy to provide its solutions. IT solutions also might have a negative impact on jobs.

      An extra question is asked to see how business can compensate this.

      Negative externalities can be seen as hidden opportunities that could generate new revenue.

      Positive externalities

      Positive externalities are important. It creates adhesion from customers, employees and shareholders.

      In a world where people are the most valuable assets, positivie externalities can have a huge impact on keeping this asset onboard.

      Last Sustainable Business Cases

      Discover how companies used the Sustainable Business Canvas to reflect on their way to operate their business.

      All Cases