Entrepreneurship: Green Belt Movement, Venture Africa and Gift a Tree
When the Greet Belt Movement, an International NGO fostering development through environmental conservation, lost its charismatic founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Muta Maathai the need to diversify funding became clear in developing a sustainable financial base. Kerstin Humberg and Wolfhart Pentz from Mckinsey and partner helped us out. After two years and several workshops in Nairobi, Kerstin had a new way to help GBM become more sustainable through entrepreneurship. While Kerstin was attending a recruiting event, she wondered: “what if, instead of a “dummy” case study, candidate recruits had the chance to work on an actual project helping the Green Belt Movement?” That’s when “Venture Africa” was born.
Kerstin’s special recruitment drive for Venture Africa – attracted almost 700 applications. 30 students were chosen for an initial workshop; of those, eight went on to a week-long round of workshops in Kenya with the Green Belt Movement.
The ultimate output was a win for all sides. The Green Belt Movement now has a model for a new ecotourism business that will promote its mission and provide a steady source of funding for its other activities. The students got the opportunity to solve a real client problem with visible social impact. And the Firm developed a new recruiting method whose message strengthens the Firm’s attractiveness to candidates while generating actual engagement results.
At Venture Africa, there was a great spirit of entrepreneurship. One of the participants suggested and developed the gift a tree website (www.giftatreetoday.com). Gift-A-Tree allows you to give the gift of planting a tree in Kenya. These $10 individual purchases can be made throughout the world and are great gifts for birthdays or special occasions while supporting the Green Belt Movement's work. The gift recipient receives a postcard with the donor's message and information on exactly where their tree has been planted.
We asked Wolfgang Xaver Merkt, the participant who came up with the idea a few questions:
1. What inspired you to come up with giftatreetoday.com and turn it from an idea into reality?
The work that the Green Belt Movement (GBM) does is incredibly inspiring and has a tremendous impact. Planting a tree, core of GBM’s work, is an impactful gesture and meaningful gift. And yet, there was no conveniently to use gift available for environmentally-conscious persons who’d like to get a thoughtful present for loved ones.
2. What are your ambitions for giftatreetoday.com?
My ambitions for giftatreetoday.com are three-fold:
- Raise awareness for the great work the Green Belt Movement (GBM) is doing in environment preservation, women empowerment, and community engagement among those that have not previously heard of it before
- Provide a conveniently-to-use gift option for people interested in environmental sustainability
- Raise funds supporting GBM’s work through micro-contributions
3. Why are you interested in environmental sustainability topics?
While we are entering an age of abundance (cf. “Abundance” by Peter Diamandis), underlying challenges of how we all live are unresolved. The environment, our very home, and its biodiversity are at stake. I firmly believe in the engagement of grassroots communities with ownership of the process and resources to drive change.
So next time you need a gift…