Helping small businesses take positive climate actions


Xero and Cogo have partnered to create a pedometer to track your carbon footprint.
Key Takeaways
  • Enables users to measure, reduce and compensate for their impact on people and the planet
  • Cogo software developed with insights and feedback from Xero data and analytics
  • More than 60% of businesses surveyed said they didn’t know how to take action
Xero chief customer officer Rachael Powell presenting on stage at Xerocon Sydney 2022
Rachael Powell, at Xerocon Sydney September 2022 | Image source: Xero

In a question and answer session at this year’s Xerocon in Sydney, Elise Shaw joined Xero’s Chief Customer Officer Rachael Powell and Cogo’s APAC CEO Julie Lindenberg to discuss the latest technology to help small businesses take positive climate actions.

Cogo has developed a carbon tracking API and consumer app that enables users to measure, reduce and compensate for their impact on people and the planet.

Shaw: How did this collaboration come about and what’s its purpose?

Lindenberg: We’ve been able to develop our software with great feedback and insights form Xero.

Powell: It’s [climate action] non-negotiable anymore. For a couple of reasons. It’s evident that governments can’t do this. It’s got to be led by large businesses, small businesses and consumers. Everyone has got to play their part if we are going to reverse the impact on the planet, when it comes to climate.

Every organisation is at a different stage of the journey. We became carbon neutral in 2019. For us it was about helping our small business customers achieve carbon neutrality, or get on that journey to do something to play their own part in this as well.

They were asking for it and at Xero we want to be able to share what we learn with our small business customers and advisors. Together we are better. If we can provide them with the right technology, like Cogo, and the right educational content then collectively everybody can have a bigger impact on the world.

The next generation will be adults by the end of the next decade, they are going to demand that the companies that they work for are focussed on climate change and addressing the impact on the planet. They will be exploring for their own choices, who they work for and who they consume from based on whether those companies are playing their part.

Shaw: Why was there a need to make it easy to access and simple to use?

Lindenberg: Two thirds of the 600 companies surveyed said they don’t know how to take action. This is designed to be very straightforward. It is simply a matter of hooking up your Xero data to Cogo and it starts to give you those insights. It gives you an understanding of your carbon footprint.

Powell: It’s a pedometer of your carbon footprint.

screenshot of the Cogo app home page
Cogo app | Image source: Supplied

Shaw: How do customers use the data?

Lindenberg: Getting the data is the first point, but our app goes further. It gives you actions. What are the things that as a small business you can do to reduce your carbon footprint? Some of those things can be really big, so we break those down into smaller tasks, and some of the suggestions are smaller actions.

Powell: The data is gamified. It tells you how you are tracking against previous months. It’s all about little steps. It’s not transformational change. It’s all about making slight adjustments to improve their carbon footprint.

Lindenberg: We want people coming back every week, every month, looking at it.

Shaw: Who can use the app?

Lindenberg: It’s free and only available in Australia at this point in time. We’re looking to launch to NZ and UK in the next year. We expect there will be a fast take-up. It’s all about the impact and how to create a positive engagement. It’s data driven and it’s all about small companies making the decision for themselves.

Powell: We are complementing the technology with content. Our Small Business Sustainability Hub has resources to help start the journey.  There’s a lot of people overwhelmed with knowing what their role is. Information is power, knowledge is power. If they have that information through the Cogo app and these educational resources then they can have an impact.

Shaw: Why launch the app in Australia?

Lindenberg: Australasia is more progressive that the rest of the world [in looking at ways to be more sustainable]. The UK has a strong presence but it is driven by regulation. Australia is more progressive in its thinking about sustainability. Businesses are putting more investment into it. New Zealand is not far behind

Powell: We see it with corporations here, where funds will only invest in the companies that are have sustainability practices.

Shaw: What are the benefits for businesses to be early adapters of the technology?

Lindenberg: Small businesses will start falling behind if they don’t start looking at this. It’s going to become a more competitive market and people need to start differentiating themselves in the market. This is a great way to do it.

Powell: No business is too small to care about this issue. The line is blurred between consumer and business. They think like consumers and consumers are thinking what is my role to play. Some of the small businesses that are starting now, they are very purpose driven and very concerned about the environment.

What we do at Xero is we provide the technology to run the back-office and then they can add on these apps, 1000 apps. One of the reasons to partner with Cogo is that the technology is advanced and they are a global player, and we are a global player. Together, we can make a louder noise and bring more people on the journey. The ecosystem we have created is open and easy. A small business can see what is relevant to them for their industry and size to help run the business so it looks after itself from an operational perspective and they can focus on the customer.

Lindenberg: There is demand out there and this is simple and easy and free. It’s a safe place to play and discover and learn and take action.