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Environmental entrepreneur

by Katrina Kalleske

Christopher Raymond accepts his award from Brian Cunningham, CEO Dept Trade & Economic Development.A PhD student who is running an environmental consultancy has been named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the South Australian Young Entrepreneur Scheme (SAYES).

Christopher Raymond took part in the year-long SAYES program along with about 50 other participants, and was judged to be the highest achieving out of them.

SAYES is run by Business SA to provide young South Australians with the skills and confidence to develop and implement their business ideas. Raymond said the biggest benefit he received from the program was having access to a network of mentors and corporate partners who provided invaluable advice during the start-up phase of his business, Enviroconnect.

Raymond is currently undertaking his PhD with the Centre for Rural Health and Community Development, UniSA, while running his business part-time. His PhD focuses on relationships among rural landholder values, place attachments and conservation behaviour in two areas of South Australia – the Eyre Peninsula and the SA Murray-Darling Basin.

"There is an enormous need in Australia and internationally to link local knowledge of the environment with scientific or managerial knowledge held by corporate and government bodies," he said.

"I am really enjoying the challenge of working with multiple stakeholders. Working in this industry aligns with my value system and mission of connecting multiple interest groups to environmental initiatives, and to personal and economic well-being."

Raymond said that more people are becoming aware of climate change and more broadly, environmental issues in the community.

"The challenge for every individual is to identify alternative ways of living with the environment, rather than against it," he said.

"Environmental values and the need to conserve the environment are often competing against the need for personal success such as owning your own home, the latest car or attaining the promotion at work. These personal success factors often lead to increased natural resource consumption rather than environmental sustainability."

Raymond's PhD follows his Honours Degree in Biodiversity, Environmental and Park Management at UniSA. He has been able to focus on his PhD this year after winning the Jean Pearce Environmental Scholarship.

Criteria for the Young Entrepreneur Award included quality of the business plan, self motivation and, of course, the resulting success of the business. SAYES Project Executive from Business SA Daniel Smith said Raymond excelled in all areas.

"He was eager to learn and prepared a very detailed plan for the future of the business," Smith said. "In just one year, his pursuit of the business saw him take on interstate and international clients."