Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elizabeth Freele, Co-Founder of Sympact Advisory, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Expectations of business are shifting rapidly. Sympact helps companies achieve strong Social Performance to meet them. An innovative women-owned sustainability thinktank & hands-on ESG consultancy, we focus on systems-level impact, designing and implementing practical solutions and actionable strategies for business social sustainability and ESG performance. While specializing in mining, Sympact also serves global clients spanning cleantech, renewables, CPG, agribusiness, impact investing, circular economy, and international development.

Tell us about yourself

During my undergraduate international development coursework, I was first introduced to the term "Corporate Social Responsibility," presented as an ugly, shifty, greenwashing tool of the corporate world. From that day on, I could not get the thought out of my head that just because "CSR" wasn't working well, it didn't mean that's all it could ever be. The seed was planted, and the rest is history as I evolved from community relations to corporate responsibility, sustainability, and ESG. After a little more than a decade in the field and corporate boardrooms, in 2019, I decided to start my own consultancy.

Working in ESG and sustainability in raw materials is so passionate for me because these materials are literally the building blocks of our everyday lives. Yet often, these are industries that remain fraught with environmental and social challenges, human rights issues, etc. Having the investment world begin to care about these topics because they understand that they present material risks is an immense opportunity to make a difference.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Taking the leap to start Sympact. We are trying to push the boundaries and challenge industries to be more and do more - to really work towards systems impact and dispense with the greenwashing. At times this is unpopular, but it is so much more rewarding overall as kindred spirits and allies emerge from the woodwork - we are stronger together.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The captain can never take a nap when steering the ship. You always have to be on, particularly in a small or medium-sized enterprise. I overcame this challenge by creating Sympact with a business partner - two captains has been a dream come true, providing greater diversity of leadership and ideas, as well as enabling both of us to maintain a real work-life balance.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Seek out trustworthy mentors and allies. "No man is an island" - don't try to go it alone.
  2. Don't be afraid to use your voice - I wish I had known that sharing my own opinions and vision matters more than fitting into the incumbent culture – you don't have to mimic the status quo to be worthy or successful. Being YOU is your greatest value proposition!
  3. Always keep learning, make time for reflection on both successes and failures, and take opportunities to learn from others.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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