WWF Impact Ventures
A program aiming to accelerate, build capacity and enable access to investment platforms, dedicated to transforming grant funded WWF projects into for profit conservation businesses.
The program is set-up to explore, design and create conservation businesses that protect nature, enable local communities to flourish and provide opportunities for investment. Projects with the potential to amplify their impact in the form of conservation businesses managed by people ready to accept the challenge to be entrepreneurs receive support to take their projects to the next level.
This initiative shows a change in mindset within WWF. The realisation that philanthropic and public funds are not sufficient to meet the world’s conservation funding needs, Conservation NGOs need to rethink and re-engineer their funding models to be able to bridge the gap between existing capacity and current needs. As a consequence, WWF Impact Ventures was launched by WWF Switzerland in 2013 to prototype the use of impact business and investment approaches to advance WWF’s mandate. In 2016, the matured program expanded to allow the WWF network to participate (e.g. WWF NL supported a marine cohort) to create change to the long-standing approaches to conservation problems.
The program was designed and is run together by WWF CH and New Paradigm Ventures and is a great example of programs developed within WWF that are working with social entrepreneurs to create change. In the future we are looking at opportunities to scale the program internationally via WWF’s and Impact Hub’s networks.
In practice what does the program look like?
The support is delivered by experts in business development and venture capital to ensure that the ventures become market and investment ready. Concretely different models are combined: on-site sessions training, Peer2Peer learning, one2one session of individual coaching, online sessions on specific topics (such as Hard Skills 101). All the different components aim to equip participants with the tools needed to transform current practices and to generate impact in a new way.
Recently 12 investable ventures from almost all of WWF’s priority regions receive support through this program. The ventures are diverse and range from technologies for impact, to smallholder farming and non-timber forest production. In all cases, the ventures provide a new opportunity for communities to generate income or secure livelihoods and reduce pressure on the local environment.
What is a typical venture benefiting from the program?
GORILLA CONSERVATION COFFEE – The mountain gorilla and its habitat are critically endangered. Only 880 remain. Human population growth, poverty, poor health and education are resulting in intense pressure on gorilla habitat and health. Gorilla Conservation Coffee is a unique Ugandan venture that aims to improve the lives of 100,000 individuals living in and around the gorilla reserve. By grouping together smallholder farmers and producing a high quality, conservation-branded coffee a premium price can be generated. Local farmers earn more and become stewards of their local environment. A portion of the proceeds are channeled back into gorilla conservation programs.
Find more infos at the WWF Impact Ventures Website.