Farmland LP, Public Lab, Rising Tide Capital and Sustaintech India are the winners of the Social Venture Network’s (SVN) 2014 Innovation Award, which recognizes companies that demonstrate the greatest impact in solving social, environmental and economic problems.
The winners were selected by a panel of 16 judges, including Leigh Buchanan of Inc. magazine, Neil Grimmer of Plum Organics, Jean Oelwang of Virgin Unite, Jorge Calderon of Impact Strategy Advisors and Ed Dugger of the National Institute for a Sustainable Economy. The entrants were judged on their use of innovation, impact and ability to scale.
Farmland LP provides investors with the opportunity to own high quality farmland, while the company’s land management practices increase investor cash flow by using sustainable crop and livestock rotations. By providing access to quality, organic, sustainable acreage, the company enables organic farmers and progressive ranchers to focus on the crops and livestock they produce best.
Major brands such as PepsiCo, Unilever, Heineken also are working to advance the cause of sustainable agriculture. Earlier this year, these companies, along with more than 50 other members of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, developed the world’s first industry-aligned Farmer Self-Assessment (FSA) of sustainable agriculture practices. The FSA is designed for farmers to assess their sustainable agriculture practices in a way that is universally recognized by the food and drink industry. The assessment criteria for farmers meets the sustainable sourcing needs of many companies. Any farmer can complete the assessment online and it can be used for most crop types, farm sizes and locations around the world.
Public Lab makes inexpensive and accessible do-it-yourself techniques available for underserved communities by applying open-source techniques to the development of tools for environmental exploration and investigation. The company also generates knowledge and shares data about community environmental health, while focusing on locally relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding.
Rising Tide Capital
Rising Tide Capital works with a community of emerging entrepreneurs to equip them with the tools, skills and access to funding they need to grow successful businesses. According to the company, when these entrepreneurs are empowered to succeed they generate income for their families and create a ripple effect that catalyzes the social and economic development of their local community.
Severe respiratory disease, unsustainable CO2 emissions and indoor air pollution are serious concerns facing India as a direct result of traditional cooking stoves. Sustaintech India is a social enterprise that manufactures and sells sustainable energy products, including fuel-efficient commercial cook stoves, designed to improve the health of underserved populations, reduce firewood consumption, slow deforestation and contribute to India’s climate change mitigation efforts. The company’s smoke-free PYRO stoves provide a path out of poverty for street food vendors along with substantial environmental benefits: each stove in its lifetime conserves two acres of open forests and saves 10 tons of firewood per year.
While something as simple as a stove might seem trivial in the net impact, a majority of households in the developing world continue to rely on polluting cookstoves for their everyday needs. Another social enterprise, Envirofit, is working on providing more than 150,000 clean cookstoves across Kenya in the next two years as part of the UN-supported anti-poverty program Business Call to Action (BCtA), which will reduce greenhouse gases by 193,500 tons of CO2.