I wrote this article for the Huffington Post. It can be seen in its original context here.
Van Jones and others have so successfully argued for green collar jobs—defined by Green for All as a job that does something for the planet, pays family wages and provides opportunities for upward mobility–that the term has become ubiquitous among politicians, environmentalists and social activists. This should come as no surprise, particularly in the current economic climate: after all, who can argue against creating more jobs for American families, jobs that also enhance our infrastructure, national security and environment? In fact, President-elect Obama recently announced a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, and many of those will certainly be green collar.
But lost in all the talk of green collar jobs is the fact that there is a significant portion of the target population–low-income, people of color, the unemployed and underemployed–who want to be green collar entrepreneurs. For example, roughly 25% of the people that graduate from a green job training program in my hometown of Providence, Rhode Island want to start their own business. According to Mark Kravatz, who runs the program, the enthusiasm among these entrepreneurs is inspiring; they see how green can be good for them, their family and their community, and they want to get in on the game. So what’s the problem? Simply put, they have little to no options for accessing the capital they would need to make their idea a reality.