Meet Nick van Heesewijk, founder of Corekees - an investment platform on a mission for a greener world. They plant Pongamia trees in specially selected natural reserves that have been deforested for at least ten years. This special Pongamia tree not only compensates a lot of CO₂, but also produces pods that we can sell for a profit. Scroll down to read all about Nick's green mission below!
Why did you start your company & what do you want to accomplish?
I always wanted to build something that was not yet available and buildit independently. I hadtwo requirements; the concepthad to contribute to something and not solely to earn money, we wanted to make an actual improvement somewhere for the world. And - not entirely unimportant - a business case;an economic model. We ended up at our currentreforestation area, and the idea rose very quickly.So we started working on it. We believe that giving sustainability an economic value is the way to make an impact.
We do what we do for freedom and adventure. There is no clear path in life, so you have to decide things for yourself. Being your own boss has some difficulties, but there are also many benefits to it. This adventure that we’re on is amazing. Even three years in, it’s the most beautiful thing there is.
What does sustainability mean to you? → How does it come across in your business?
I think that the sustainable way of performing or working isthat when you add everything up, that in the end, there should be more positives than negatives. We should deal with each other and the world with care and respect and therefore generatemore value than we take.
We reforest land that has been deforested so that nature can return and flourish again. We believe that we can only achieve a sustainable world by giving sustainability an economic value.
What did you have to overcome to get to where you are now?
We had to build a model that made sense to sell to "retail people" –like a grandmother who can buy it for her grandson. It shouldn’t be too complicated but have an honest and straightforward story. To create a clear narrative that we also sell a financial product, which is also genuinely sustainable. To break this down into a couple of sentences was quite a challenge. How can we give people confidence that what we sell is a reliable and fair product? Our trees are planted in Paraguay, which is quite far away for the average person, so how do you show that the tree is actually being planted? Bringing together the overall story was the real challenge.
What is your mindset when it comes to growing your business? What drives you?
I want to give sustainability economic value. Making the world more sustainable is more important, but not only in a hippy-tree-hugging type of way but combining economic value with sustainability. That is where I see the future—introducing the business community to sustainability and ensuring that they reinforce each other to make a real impact. When I look around me, I see that far too little is happening. I see so many opportunities, so there is still a lot of ground to be gained in this field. And in whatever way that manifests itself, whether it is planting trees or something else, in the end, it is about making a positive impact.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs who want to build a sustainable business?
Think about what you want to do, then mix it with logic, and if you think it could work, go for it and try it out. Falling and getting up again as often as possible that's how you make progress. And if it fails, you have also learned a lot from those experiences. Just do it, but keep thinking logically, don’t step into your new adventure with your eyes closed!
Tell us about your green vision for your industry? → What is your green vision for the world (macro-level)?
For Corekees, we would like to become a sustainable investment platform, make people part of the movement, and make an impact with different projects. Facilitate the connection of Western people to all-over-the-world projects and make it work for both worlds.
I would love to see parents put some money aside for their children at Corekees, and then when the children are 18, they can study with that money and contribute to a greener world.
The world has to go green, so no matter what you do, do it sustainably - there are plenty of options; we just have to do it!
This interview was made in collaboration with Amsterdam Capital House.
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