Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2017 and its prospects for the future.
What challenge was the source of inspiration for your project?
The scale of agriculture started to change dramatically in the 1960s and 70s. Increasingly large farms have had all sorts of effects, many of them negative: animals freedom of movement and well-being has often declined. By contrast organic food and farming takes the environment and animal welfare into consideration; animals have more space than on conventional farms, for example, and genetic engineering and chemical pesticides are not permitted. DO-IT’s challenge has been to promote this more environmentally-sound approach to farming.
What innovation did you use to address this problem?
DO-IT was founded in 1991 by Poppe Braam. The company, and its founder, is driven by a strong commitment to stimulate organic farming and build sustainable trade relations with, and between, farmers in developing countries and buyers in Europe. The company has developed relationships with 170 suppliers in more than 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America buying over 850 products from them; from nuts, quinoa, dried fruit and sugar, to rice and olive oil. The company works closely with local farmers and cooperatives and shares knowledge about organic farming practices. DO-IT has also launched two consumer brands – La BIO IDEA and Amaizin – that are available in European health-food stores.
What impact did Triodos Bank have on your company?
In 2016, Triodos Organic Growth Fund took a minority stake in DO-IT. In the Fund, DO-IT has found an investor with a shared vision and a commitment for the long-term to help DO-IT realise its growth and other ambitions.
Triodos Organic Growth Fund was launched in January 2014 as a long-term ‘evergreen’ fund. It invests in equity in leading, non-listed companies in sustainable consumer products in Europe, with a focus on organic food, sustainable clothing and textiles, and personal care.
What impact has your company had on your business sector?
In 2018, DO-IT will co-sponsor, for the fifth time, a popular series of six dialogues about the future of agriculture and food from a global perspective. ‘It’s the Food, my friend’, aims to co-create a broad, long-term vision on food that contributes to an economically, socially and ecologically sustainable food and agriculture sector. Audiences of around 300 people from different backgrounds: farmers, students, bankers, traders, consultants and government representatives participate in the event.
In addition, Poppe Braam, DO-IT’s CEO, is an active board member of the Dutch association of organic producers and traders (BioNederland) and Stichting EKO-Keurmerk, a well-known and the oldest organic quality label for organic food in The Netherlands. He also actively participates in strengthening and creating the International Organic Trade Association.
What has been the local impact of your company on the community?
Fortunately, an increasing number of consumers choose to buy and eat organic. To meet this demand, it is essential to increase organic cultivation, including in developing countries. Thanks to the long-term relationships that DO-IT has built up with farmers and producers in recent years it is in a position to help meet this demand and put the interests of farmers first as a result. DO-IT has mainly set up its own agricultural projects, with small local farmers and cooperatives. The goal of their fair-trade projects is not just to access premium quality certified organic products but also to contribute to a better quality of life for the farmers it works with.
How does Triodos Bank share your vision?
Society consumes more natural resources than the earth can provide. This global overuse, driven by a short-term consumerist mindset, leads to natural resource depletion, such as declining soil fertility and a loss of biodiversity, and decreased resilience in the supply chains of food and other consumer products. These challenges call for a much-needed transition to sustainable production and consumption; a transition that DO-IT and Triodos Bank are both committed to.
Triodos Bank aims to accelerate the transition to more sustainable agricultural systems and consumption patterns by financing businesses, like DO-IT, across the supply chain that safeguard nature, promote fairness and transparency, improve livelihoods of farmers and encourage mindful consumption.