Sami: helping startups and SMEs reduce CO2 emissions
What is Sami’s mission?
We founded Sami with the strong ambition to democratize companies’ climate commitments. To make sure all companies get involved and do their part for the planet. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change is an extremely difficult challenge that will take time. It requires everyone’s involvement, including all companies — not just big groups, but SMEs and midcaps too. SMEs account for 60% employment in France, and according to our estimates, for about 20% – 30% of French greenhouse gas emissions. Our platform simplifies the challenge of taking meaningful action on climate change, and makes it affordable.
These businesses don’t necessarily want to do less, just the opposite. Decision-making can be less complicated than for large companies, but SMEs often don’t have the resources to dedicate to environmental and social issues. Previously, the only option was to employ consultants to conduct an audit and define an action plan using Excel. A platform like Sami simplifies the process and helps SMEs to develop a structured, ambitious response to environmental issues.
How does Sami work?
Carbon footprint audit methodologies to measure companies’ environmental impact have been around for about 20 years. They define accounting rules for measuring greenhouse gas emissions caused by activities such as office maintenance, employee travel, software services, energy use, etc. The challenge was to digitize this methodology to make the process more fluid.
One of the first technological building blocks we implemented was to automate financial data analysis and associate it with accounting data, which in this case is greenhouse gas emissions according to the category of expenditure and supplier. This automates the calculation of tens of thousands of data lines on every company expense. Little by little, we added more blocks that enable the collection of data and emissions calculation on activities like travel and work-from-home.
What happens after the data collection phase?
The data analysis gives us a clear picture of how your carbon footprint is divided between digital services, purchases, offices etc. From that, Sami’s carbon coaches pre-select low-carbon actions from 100+ possible options to build a suitable action plan. There are very different levers that can be used depending on the type of business. There are a lot of climate actions companies can do, such as raising awareness among employees and customers, or developing new services that will allow customers to reduce emissions. Putting the subject at the heart of the business model can have a very significant impact.
Companies can also finance the low carbon transition, which is called carbon offsetting. It means finding and supporting projects that will reduce emissions elsewhere; again this is where we filter the good from the bad, and help companies choose the right projects. The idea is to enact a transparent process of continuous improvement, and to repeat the analysis every year. It’s about having a long-term approach to emissions reduction.
What challenges are companies facing when it comes to reducing emissions over the coming years?
The European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will require companies enact a range of measures on their environmental and social impact, including their carbon footprint. As of 2024, this will apply to companies with 250+ employees in the 27 member states. It will have a ricochet effect on other countries like the UK.
We have big ambitions to help thousands of companies, not only in France but elsewhere in Europe. It is important that we get thousands of European companies on board to be able to reduce millions of tons of CO2 in the next ten years. We’re in a climate emergency and it is absolutely imperative that we act fast.
We’re also looking at countries like Spain and Portugal where there is a lot of potential to reduce carbon emissions. It’s harder because you have to evangelize the market and raise awareness.
What have you learned from Sami’s first two years in operation?
We definitely feel there’s momentum. We launched Sami three days after the European lockdowns started in 2020; we can see there is a growing interest and awareness about reducing the carbon footprint. It is now almost systematically being examined or implemented within business, including in the service sector. We are still at the beginning, there are not many companies with a truly structured approach to reducing emissions, but it is changing fast.
At the beginning we thought start-ups would be taking strong action, because their staff are highly qualified and generally younger. But that wasn’t really the case. We still see a lot of startups that are focused firstly on making maximum profit, and not really addressing the climate issue. Traditional industrial SMEs are already quite advanced on the issue. So it depends. It’s not one size fits all. We need to get everyone on board.
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