Posted by on October 13th, 2012


Rodrigo Ponce was one of the incredible volunteers at SOCAP12.  He attended a couple sessions and here is what he has to say on BIO CULTURAL INVESTMENT: BECAUSE PEOPLE AND PLANET MATTER


Marina Room showed us this morning a DEEP/LOCAL/CONNECTED session with two different approaches for sustainability, social-environmental impact and change. KRED Enterprises is an Aboriginal Charitable Trust dedicated to building and sustaining independent Aboriginal economic development in the Australian Aboriginal Kimberley Biodiversity Hot-Spot Area. KRED’s CEO Wayne Bergmann showed a deep knowledge, commitment and community based approach to foster environmentally friendly skills in the Kimberley Aboriginal people: Fire management, weed control, cultural site management and interpretation, biological pest control, cultural awareness and immersion experiences, coastal and tourism management, M&E’s for ecosystem health, Indigenous Protected Areas, etc. These skills, projects and alternatives for development will improve their lives while living them space and time to live their “cultural economy”.

In the other hand we had a Dan MacCombie from Runa Tea. Who didn’t try this tea during SOCAP12? Runa Tea had an aggressive marketing strategy making this drink available at every moment during the event. Just three slides where enough for Dan to introduce the drink and the statistics measuring the social impact it generates: thousands of families, revenues, investment, trees planted and sales indexes. They also have a research program in Ecuador (where the Tea comes from) to find useful local ecological applications and develop other local enterprises. For this purpose Runa Tea started a foundation.

Both KRED and Runa Tea discussed different legal models for their ventures and related alternatives: coops, indigenous stakeholders & shareholders and sources of funding. The first showed a great social community based and environmental approach, more alike with the not for profit funds and projects. It didn’t show up with a specific product to offer. Meanwhile, Runa Tea didn’t show any picture of the local areas affected, but great commercial & profitable brand and product. Two different ways towards the same goal: sustainability. Is there any chance that we are having here a Trade-Off between conservation and economic development?

Imagine a cross training between both CEO’s: KRED in Ecuador and Runa Tea in the Australian Kimberly. This is one of the dreams that SOCAP12 brought to life. The chance of connection & perfection: different ventures to share knowledge and improve their outcomes.

Shaun Paul from EcoLogic Development Fund demonstrated a great knowledge of all the broad frame of bio-cultural investments. He also addressed the perfect questions and his skills as moderator were a highlight in the panel. His organization is looking to impact-invest in organizations with a minimum of US$ 100M in sales per year.

Tammy Newmark from EcoEnterprises Fund gave us all a lesson from her experience. The first fund they launched was under the umbrella of The Nature Conservancy, a well known organization in that field. The US$6.6MM fund that they launched investing in 23 companies impacted in a such way that generated US$ 200MM additional in funds for the projects involved. The second fund is going to be launched in January 2013: US$ 25MM on investment opportunities that are scaling up (Runa Tea is one of those). Right now there are 12 companies in the pipeline and their investment criterion looks for start-ups, expanding capital, mezzanine instruments, shared equities, a few million dollars in sales, certification and the amounts start from US$ 500M+ for an eight year horizon. EcoEnterprises also has small fund programs starting from US$ 50M for smaller ventures but they are not part of this second fund. These investments are managed independently through a venture fund with a ten year horizon and interest rates from 7% to 11%.