MIGA Client EcoPlanet Bamboo Wins Excellence in Business Award
At MIGA, EcoPlanet Bamboo is known as a first-rate client for its environmental and social commitment. Since MIGA issued guarantees in 2012 for the company’s bamboo plantations in Nicaragua, the investment has had a tremendous impact on the local economy—creating hundreds of jobs in one of the poorest regions of the country, improving land, and upgrading workers' skills. The company’s local sourcing has created indirect employment, while its corporate philosophy ensures that contributions to local communities foster good relations, support education, and improve livelihoods.
Last week, the Illinois-based company also received recognition from the U.S. government.
On December 9th, Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment presented the U.S. Secretary of State's 2014 Award for Corporate Excellence to EcoPlanet Bamboo Group in Nicaragua. The annual award recognizes U.S.-owned businesses that play a vital role around the world in supporting sustainable development, respect for human and labor rights, environmental protection, and transparency.
EcoPlanet Bamboo was recognized in particular for its work in fostering sustainable development by regenerating degraded pasturelands. The State Department noted the company dedicates 20 percent of its plantations as a natural habitat area that protects biodiversity by prohibiting illegal hunting. EcoPlanet Bamboo also focuses on employing people with disabilities and empowering women through recruitment to managerial positions.
MIGA extended $27 million in investment guarantees covering the Nicaragua plantations two year ago and is actively underwriting investments that will expand them. MIGA’s insurance was critical to this client, giving them the ability to double their investment in Nicaragua. The agency is also expected to support EcoPlanet Bamboo’s future ventures in Africa.
“All of MIGA’s clients must adhere to our environmental and social performance standards,” said Keiko Honda, MIGA’s Executive Vice President and CEO. “But what stands out about EcoPlanet Bamboo is their focused dedication to the values the standards represent.” She continued, “EcoPlanet Bamboo is a visionary company and we’re very pleased to learn of this award.”
Indeed, EcoPlanet Bamboo’s vision extends beyond its local operations.
“We had to basically turn the bamboo model upside-down,” said EcoPlanet Bamboo CEO Troy Wiseman at the awards ceremony. “We needed to go from a typically small-holder farmer aggregator model for handicrafts and other small products and really focus on the Fortune 500 companies or we wouldn’t be able to change the world.”
The sea-change Wiseman refers to is the company’s aim to revolutionize the global market for building, manufacturing, and fiber industries, effectively replacing the widespread use of hardwoods with a greener alternative in order to decrease deforestation on a large scale.
“Our mission is to show that not only could we be profitable but we could eradicate poverty through long-term job creation, while reversing and restoring the devastation caused by deforestation.”
Closing his speech to accept the State Department award, Wiseman noted that, as EcoPlanet Bamboo expands, it aims to bring to others the same values and framework they set up in Nicaragua “with a community that was anxious for hope and worked hard.”
Click here for video of the award ceremony.