Earlier this May, the WWF Switzerland Tropical Forest Challenge was launched to discover the best for-profit enterprises from around the world that have a positive impact on the conservation of tropical forest biodiversity. Today, two winners have been announced.
The challenge is managed by Ennovent – an accelerator for innovations creating a sustainable impact on low-income people – on behalf of WWF Switzerland. It is divided into three categories, with one winner emerging from each category of five finalists. The categories are:
The winner of the Startup category is Planting Empowerment. The other finalists in this category were Floresta Group, EcoTech Timber, Maya Mountain Cacao and Eco-Fuel Africa. Planting Empowerment develops mixed native species agroforestry projects that provide alternative income streams to slash-and-burn agriculture for smallholder farmers in Panama – encouraging tropical forest conservation. To date, Planting Empowerment has planted more than 27,500 trees and has ensured that farmers are earning 45% more than previous income levels.
The winner of the Company category is Runa, and the finalists in this category were EcoPlanet Bamboo, Wildlife Works, Rainforest Expeditions, and CHICZA. Runa is an Ecuador-based organization creating US markets for guayusa tea grown by indigenous farmers. Since inception in 2009, Runa has generated over $100,000 of direct income to over 2,000 farming families (representing an average farmer income increase of 30%) and has planted over 200,000 trees.
According to Ennovent, the Idea category has been withdrawn because none of the applicants met the winning criteria.
The winners are endorsed by WWF Switzerland as best solution providers and are awarded global visibility, networking, and capacity building opportunities in consideration of the resource gaps – such as networks and training – that many early-stage entrepreneurs face.
This is the first year of the WWF Switzerland Tropical Forest Challenge and there were over 300 nominations and more than 70 applications submitted from various parts of the world, including Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
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