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.
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;
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
Belize Lodge and Excursions, which promotes ecotourism in southern Belize; and
Bolholz, Bolivia, which is expanding its output of certified wood products.
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.