Ennovent and WWF Switzerland announced the winners of their Tropical Forest Challenge this past Monday. The winners came from two categories: company and startup. Launched in May 2012, the WWF Switzerland Tropical Forest Challenge is a global initiative managed by Ennovent on behalf of WWF Switzerland to discover the best for-profit enterprises from around the world that have a positive impact on the conservation of tropical forest biodiversity.
The winners are endorsed by WWF Switzerland as best solution providers and are awarded global visibility, networking and capacity building opportunities from the challenge partners such as, Good Company, Sustainatopia and Thomson Reuters Foundations’. These Challenge rewards are important as many early-stage entrepreneurs face resource gaps – such as networks and training – that inhibit their ability to scale high potential ventures.
In May 2012, Alexander Shakaryan’s MicroForester, which is an online platform to stimulate reforestation in designated parts of the world, received the runner-up prize of infoDev and Nokia’s m2Work Challenge. The m2Work competition was a global call for innovators to design jobs that anyone could do from a mobile phone. Three months later, the Armenian developer assesses next steps for his fledgling company.
As an entrepreneur, winning a competition is only the beginning of the tougher part of the journey, which is creating a real company from an idea. You can win a competition with just an idea, but winning investors and customers depends on lots of other things like money, connections, and fame. The m2Work competition was good for local fame, and the m2Work Hackathon will help as well, but more importantly the events show us who the entrepreneurs are and how to help us on our own tough journey.
A few months ago I received an email from the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) about the m2Work contest. Inspired by the idea of microwork and driven by my love for nature, I had an idea for an app to allow people in different corners of the world to use their phones to earn money by planting trees. That was MicroForester.
Since the competition we have put together a great team of developers. We have developed an application for mobile platform iOS. The first trees have already been planted with MicroForester in Yerevan, Armenia. We have a sponsorship agreement with a local leading food industry company, and we also have mining companies interested in financing the project. We have a signed Letter of Commitment with the American Institutes for Research for a future USAID-funded reforestation project in Cambodia.
As Albania prepares to celebrate 100 years of independence in 2012 with an eye towards becoming a member of the European Union; it must make crucial improvements in a sensitive area: good governance.
For better governance, citizens need more access to information; budgets and local taxes need to be transparent. Women and youth need equal opportunities in business, and agriculture policies need to be developed openly.
To address these, the government is drafting and implementing new policies for central and local government, with support from the World Bank Project for Good Governance in Albania. The World Bank is further supporting the government's agenda through support for civil society projects using the Development Marketplace competition platform to solicit and select high impact projects for implementation. The British Council is overseeing their implementation.