This World Environment Day, we’re catching up with 4 entrepreneurs that have been featured on The Ground_Up Project blog between 2013 and 2014. One has expanded nature conservation from land to sea and another has turned the desert into an oasis of pesticide-free vegetables. Yet all of our friends have one thing in common: they’re connecting us #WithNature the sustainable way. Keep reading to find out where they are now.
Impact Venture: Green Heritage Fund Suriname
Entrepreneur: Monique Pool
Blog Feature: November 2013
Since 2005, this nonprofit’s aim has been to create a society of people who work towards the continued improvement of their environment and the promotion of a green, clean and healthy Suriname. In 2016, Monique Pool was recognized as a CNN Hero for her efforts in rescuing, restoring and releasing more than 600 animals back into the wild. She explains: “when I release a sloth, I feel really happy because the animal is where he belongs. That’s the ultimate goal of my work”. More recently, Green Heritage Fund Suriname has partnered with WWF Guianas and the European Union to develop a marine spatial planning project. The idea behind this is simple, but powerful: better understand marine ecosystems to better protect their precious resources. Yet somehow, it seems like Monique’s journey as an impact entrepreneur has only just begun. Her nonprofit is sending teachers to schools in 7 districts to teach young people how to collect environmental data. Moreover, they have plans to introduce renewable energy products across Suriname. That being said, Monique and her team are still passionate about caring for sloths. To date, Green Heritage Fund Suriname has rescued and released more than 800 animals and with the help of your donation, they aim to do much more. So keep watch over the wild. The Sloth Wellness Center is opening soon.
Impact Venture: Bustan Aquaponics
Entrepreneur: Faris Farrag
Blog Feature: April 2014
Established in 2011, Bustan Aquaponics is the first farm in Egypt to grow plants and fish together under the same roof. Faris Farrag’s idea was to build a sustainable desert farming solution using small amounts of groundwater. At first, his team grew foods like organic lettuce and herbs alongside hormone-free Tilapia and free-range Begawi chicken eggs. Today, they’ve expanded their product offering to include fresh kale, mustard greens and root vegetables grown on 5 commercial aquaponic systems. What’s more, to the delight of foodies in Cairo and Alexandria, Bustan Aquaponics is distributing their healthy produce to places like Gourmet Egypt, Sunny Market and Loft21 within a few hours of harvest. What’s incredible is that all this is happening in the Sahara desert with no soil nor pesticides. Yet the output is healthy, fresh food all year round. In 2017, Faris aims to develop new product mixes and provide high-quality produce for more retailers and restaurants in Egypt.
Impact Venture: LEDsafari
Entrepreneur: Govinda Upadhyay
Blog Feature: October 2014
LEDsafari is a tech startup based in Switzerland that launched in 2010. They’ve created a DIY solar lamp made up of only five electrical components that can be assembled using recycled materials. Yet what truly sets LEDsafari apart is their focus on programs and workshops that help students put sustainability into practice. For example, at the International School of Lausanne, IB students have not only learned about solar technology, but they’ve also learned to think more deeply about sustainable development. And at schools in India and Africa, thousands of children are learning to assemble and use their own solar LED lamps to help them study at night. In recent years, LEDsafari has won several awards, such as the EIT CHANGE Award and the Innovate for Refugees Competition organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum. Additionally, Govinda Upadhyay has been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and recognized as an Asia 21 Young Leader. Driven by vision, LEDsafari has reached 10,000 students in 30 different countries and aims to empower another 40,000 by the end of 2017.
Impact Venture: Jibu
Entrepreneurs: Randy and Galen Welsch
Blog Feature: November 2014
This social enterprise and water company incubator is building a network of locally-owned franchise businesses in East Africa to provide safe drinking water at an affordable price. By treating water on the spot, Jibu is able to serve 70% of people who are within walking distance of a store and who would otherwise drink boiled or untreated water. To date, the company has launched 177 new businesses and created 550 jobs which are mainly filled by women and youth. Equally impressive is the fact that they’ve distributed 22 million liters of water in reusable bottles with a unique filtration system that uses less energy than a toaster. This year, franchises have begun selling household favorites like Aheza, a fortified porridge product. If this proves successful, other items like soap and juice will be added to the storefront. So what’s next for Randy and Galen Welsch? By the end of 2017, they aim to launch 55 new franchises and 110 micro franchises, creating at least 500 new jobs and boosting health in local communities.
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