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October 19, 2001
WRI Recognizes Eco-Friendly Enterprises
    by Susan Wennemyr

New Ventures program aims to bring together socially responsible venture capitalists with environment-friendly businesses looking to expand.

Three enterprises won a competition sponsored by World Resource Institute (WRI)’s New Ventures program at its 2001 Investment Forum in Angra dos Reos, Brazil October 4-5. The award recognizes profitability coupled with environmentally sound practices. Of the nine contenders this year, the three winners are:

Vehizero, an urban delivery vehicle provider that brings low-cost, environment-friendly hybrid electricity vehicles to the Mexican market;
Rainforest Expeditions, an ecotourism outfit that is expanding to build an eco-lodge in Peru’s Sacred Valley, promising conservation assistance and community development there; and
GE Forestal, a Peruvian forestry company that brings certified lumber and wood products to the international market while also investing in innovative reforestation techniques.

Business plans for these companies project investment needs ranging from two to three million U.S. dollars.

The award enhances the prospects of these companies to attract the investment capital they are seeking; the competition culminates a networking forum that brings environmentally sustainable companies together with banks and other investors. The forum attracted an especially large audience this year, according to Luiz Ros, who directs New Ventures. The following enterprises also contended for investment dollars, in the range of $370,000 to $3.5 million:

Rotorna, which seeks to expand an innovative recycling project in Mexico;
Brandao, Inc., which manufactures surfwear in Brazil that is earth-friendly;
Pro-Fauna, which farms exotic meat in Brazil’s native forests;
Brazil Experience, which is building a network of 20 eco-resorts;
Belize Lodge and Excursions, which promotes ecotourism in southern Belize; and
Bolholz, Bolivia, which is expanding its output of certified wood products.

Hosted by Randolph Freiberg, managing director of investment banking at Citigroup, the innovative forum has attracted increasing interest among entrepreneurs and investors alike. Citigroup will be providing one-on-one advice, workshops, and mentoring to young businesses in Latin America that employ sustainable practices. Part of WRI’s Sustainable Enterprise Program, New Ventures has also teamed up with the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology to promote sustainable enterprises in Latin America.

New Ventures has assisted over 50 entrepreneurs since its inception in 1999. Founded to bring environmentally sound projects in contact with potential investors in Latin America, it has facilitated the building of businesses in such rapidly growing sectors as organic foods and fibers, non-timber forest products and certified woods, ecotourism, sustainable fisheries management, renewable energy, and clean technologies.

An annual meeting the past three years, the New Ventures Forum will be held twice in 2002. The first of these meetings, to be sponsored in part by the National Environmental Fund of Mexico, will take place in April 2002. For further information, contact Adlai Amor of WRI at +1-202-729-7736.


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