Sustainable Business Model Canvas

What is it about?

The Sustainable Business Model Canvas supports the development of an idea into a viable business model. It follows a holistic approach regarding the relationships within and outside the business.

Besides economic criteria it focusses on ecological and social consequences of the activity. It aims at maximizing positive and avoiding negative impact on society and nature. Therefore, sustainability is integrated into the core business.

The visualization on the canvas fosters coherence of the concept and clarification among the team members. It further supports communication with third parties and prepares for a solid business plan.

There is no strict rule for the starting point. Usually, eihter the Value Proposition or the Customer Segments will provide an answer to the questions:

  • Which problem do we want to solve?
  • Whose problem do we want to solve?

The elements may be grouped as follows:

  • Value Proposition – Customer Relationships – Channels – Customer Segments
  • Key Partners – Key Activities – Key Resources
  • Cost Structure – Revenue Streams
  • Eco-Social Costs – Eco-Social Benefits

Visualizing the idea shared by the team members on the canvas clarifies the individual expectations. It helps removing discrepancies and finding a common understanding.

In a second – often parallel – process, the idea is further developed into a business.

Once the canvas has reached a first version, it is presented in front of the class, to another team or a coach/teacher. The feedback and considerations from outside shall be taken into account in the subsequent iteration.

This step can be repeated several times. It might also be the motivation for a first prototyping.

The result of the canvas is a solid, coherent business model. For realization of the idea more specific data are needed. The model is translated into operational objectives – including milestones and more detailed plans for finance and communications.

Both, business plan and canvas, remain modifiable supports for the impementation of the business idea. They serve as controlling instruments and basis for strategic decisions.


  • Visualization of complex relationships
  • Focus on key aspects of business
  • Integration of eco-social impact
  • Popular method
  • Compare alternative models
  • For new and existing businesses