By Richard Nimmo, Managing Director, London, UK.
For many or even most of the people who interact with Blue Ventures we are likely to be regarded either as a conservation and research organisation or as an ethical tourism company.
This dual identity is because Blue Ventures was founded as a social enterprise with the aim of using business to finance conservation. Since Blue Ventures began operating in 2003 we have become much more than a tourism or conservation organisation as our projects have developed and expanded to help solve problems that we encounter in the communities that we work. The project list of Blue Ventures now includes: fisheries management, family planning and sexual health programmes, financing of fuel-efficient and solar stoves, endangered species research, eco-system economics, funding of schools scholarships and aquaculture, to name a few.
The social enterprise spirit that launched Blue Ventures in 2003 survives today and our ethical tourism company, Blue Ventures Expeditions, has provided sustainable funding for our conservation and research projects as well as donating all profits to our conservation charity, Blue Ventures Conservation.
So, in a week when BV staff were attending and presenting at a workshop in Rodrigues to share ideas and experiences about managing Octopus fisheries, and other BV staff were attending and presenting at a conference in London which is being held to provoke debate on the theme of human population growth and global carrying capacity, I attended a talk by Professor Muhammad Yunus at NESTA.
Professor Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh following a personal crusade to try to encourage the country’s banks to give loans to the poor. Professor Yunus and Grameen Bank launched the concept of microcredit and microfinance, a finance model that has given millions access to loans that were previously only available through local lenders at exorbitant rates of interest.
His business activities and social business model has inspired many social entrepreneurs to develop businesses that address needs that governments and traditional businesses fail to meet or ignore. At Blue Ventures we have always felt very strongly that businesses can benefit more than just their shareholders, Directors and staff and trail blazers like Professor Yunus can inspire and help us continue.