On one hand, bugs are high in protein and easy on the environment: a compelling solution for reducing global meat consumption and its contribution to climate change.
On the other hand, try pitching that business idea to an investor.
An entrepreneur who sees major potential for both the planet and their bottom line through producing charcoal from dicarded palm kernel husks, or sustainable smallholder-produced Swahili honey, faces a similar dilemma.
That lack of investor support and access to business coaching and mentorship for “nature-based” businesses was the impetus for the ECOSTAR program, a resource hub that offers technical, financial and entrepreneurial support from experienced business people to nature-based companies throughout Europe. Earlier this year, it launched the Nature-Accelerator, the world’s first impact accelerator focused on companies specializing in the sustainable agriculture, forestry, eco-tourism, and circular and bioeconomy.
The Accelerator, in turn, spent the summer helping eight startups hone their business plans for cricket-based crackers, sustainable smallholder-produced Swahili honey, low-impact fuels made from discarded palm kernels, a new app for sharing green spaces, Agritech 4.0, furniture made from discarded wood, cryptocurrency tree-planting campaigns, and sustainable locally-produced cooking oil.
Each startup received EUR 30,000 in seed investments, support services, training, and mentorship. And this July, after eight weeks of intensive preparation, the entrepreneurs behind them were each given five minutes to make their pitch to investors, NGOs, government, and other companies.
Watch four startups’ pitches below, and stayed tuned for a second installment. (And yes, Dear Reader, those cricket crackers tasted pretty good.)
The startup: Crické
The vision: Crické is a food-innovation start-up based London that produces and markets healthy, eco-friendly and tasty insect-based food products. We combine traditional Mediterranean recipes with cricket powder – a great low-impact source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Learn more: http://www.crickefood.com/
The startup: Sintala Design
The vision: Sintala Design creates products made of solid wood without cutting down trees. The Company works with wood that has been collected from fallen trees, prunings and remains of other manufacturing processes. Our finishes are highly ecological and respectful with the environment.
Learn more: http://www.sintaladesign.com/
The startup: iNergy AgTech
The vision: We bring the benefits of sustainability and innovative technology to grassroots level, for smart producers, cities and communities, making healthy food and nature available and accessible. We offer value through iNergy’s holistic approach and product mix, empowering everyone to take control and re-vitalise their crops, greenhouses and, even any kind of space. That means more productivity for growers, more nature and healthy food in urban areas. All with less input.
The startup: Central Park Bees
The vision: Central Park Bees Limited is a social enterprise that partners with smallholder farmers and beekeepers to strengthen their income through sustainable beekeeping by giving them access to free beekeeping training, equipment loans, extension services and guaranteed markets that offer competitive prices for the honey and beeswax they produce.
Learn more: www.centralparkbees.co.tz
The Nature-Accelerator is hosted by Etifor Srl and the University of Padua’s Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry (TESAF), with seed investment from Fledge, a Seattle-based impact investor. The project is supported by the ECOSTAR alliance of businesses and universities, which include Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, Forest Design, NEPCon, Ricardo Energy & Environment, the Polytechnic University of Madrid, the University of Manchester, and the Transilvania University of Brasov.
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