Sustainability has permeated the work of Better Globe Forestry Ltd. since its start in 2004. The heart and passion of BGF are to meet the enormous potential of the people and environment in Kenya and Uganda, in a way that strengthens the people, the environment and leads to sustainable businesses and communities.
In Kenya and Uganda, urbanization is taking place on a massive scale. BGF’s work leads to the slowing down of urbanization. When work and income opportunities are created locally, more people want to stay or move back to the rural areas where their family lives.
BGF promotes sustainable communities and green jobs for those living in the vicinity of their tree plantations. And as the communities keep growing, people can earn a living and increase the productivity of their farms. A knock-on effect of a prospering community is that different public services come to them instead of vice versa.
Populating the rural areas
When BGF started operating in Kiambere, the village was made up of five houses. There was little or no hope for the residents of that “village” to prosper at that time.
Today, the same village consists of 109 houses and BGF is a significant and attractive employer in the middle of what could be best described as a wasteland. Many other businesses can be found in the area now, and several farms in connection with BGF’s tree plantations provide more jobs and residents.
In other parts of northern Kenya, where BGF is yet to establish, people move to larger villages and cities looking for work or trying to find different ways to survive. Many smallholders can get access to food rations through aid programs, but while they are away from their land, drought and erosion take over. The process makes dry farmland become increasingly challenging to cultivate.
One of the keys to slowing depopulation and desertification in arid and semi-arid lands is to create jobs. A social enterprise like BGF can help create employment based on real needs, real commercial rules, and sustainable practices. The company also creates job security in the area and continued growth as the commodity they sell will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Global demand for timber and hardwood-related products is massive, and it takes a long time to meet this demand as trees, in general, grow slowly.
Demand for quality wood continues to be higher than the supply, which is positive for BGF, as they focus on planting Mukau and other hardwood trees. Mukau is of similar quality to mahogany and teak, and grows relatively quickly. Every year a large number of new trees are planted, and the trees need care, especially during their first year of growth. A maturity time of 20 years and ongoing activities ensures that the local community will have forestry-related jobs for a very long time.
Planting forests in semi-desert areas is a growth industry for several reasons, and BGF is a pioneer in this new field. As a green and socially responsible company with poverty reduction as a business goal, they also help to counter deforestation in tropical forests. Large-scale commercial production of hardwood trees in drylands can reduce the demand for hardwood trees taken from tropical forests. This further demonstrates the viability of the type of sustainable business, which you can support with Better Globe.
A sustainable local economy
Many of the villagers BGF works with do whatever they can to organize their lives so that they can stay in their villages. They even have a collective approach to sharing money and other resources. There is usually a village-fund or a cooperative economy. But these village-funds are often too small to make a lasting difference for the village.
Through the donation package, Better Globe can, together with BGF, inject money in the shape of microloans into the local communities. This strategy, in turn, supports the creation of small businesses, the improvement of living standards, and joint village projects that can generate value to the community.
Women, in particular, are allowed to borrow a small amount of money. With it, they can start an income-generating activity, or invest in something that enables them to save money over time. And as they repay the loans, they also become stakeholders in the community-owned bank that we fund through the donation package.
Awareness means sustainability
People who can live and interact with nature are often aware that they are dependent on the biological ecosystem. At BGF’s tree plantations, it becomes gradually more evident for employees and staff that we need to care about the land and nature. It becomes apparent that the trees planted in this challenging soil can, with the right care, create a value that allows people to live off the land. And this sustainable activity can bring many positive byproducts for the surrounding areas.
Sustainability also includes being aware of how the economic cycle in society works. Once the economic cycle has started, the need for external assistance diminishes over time. When we grow a sustainable and socially responsible business over time, we reduce poverty more efficiently than almost any other social impact strategy.
BGF’s vision is to fight poverty and corruption in Africa. Thus, it is a crucial feature of the business strategy to ensure that everyone becomes a winner in the places they operate. People should be able to trust that they will be treated fairly and that the business strategy is based on healthy relationships for the good of everyone involved. And the critical product sold by us to secure a sustainable relationship with both the local communities and the environment is the donation package.
Start saving some of your money in trees
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