Umicore promoting entrepreneurship all around the world
Entrepreneurs really do make a difference. This is what we believe at Umicore and that’s the reason why we have been supporting Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs/Ondernemers voor Ondernemers (OvO) for years. Umicore is proud to be one of the founding members of OvO which pairs corporate donors such as Umicore with development charities that focus on promoting entrepreneurship in the developing world.
Just as Umicore turns sustainability into a strategic differentiator, OvO puts sustainable solutions at the heart of all its projects in the field. Over the years, Umicore and OvO have supported work in many parts of the world including South-America, Africa and Asia. Currently, Umicore is supporting two long-term projects in Ecuador and Mali.
Helping coffee farmers in Ecuador: 2017 – 2021
Umicore's objective to create sustainable value is recognizable in the aims of the Rikolto NGO which supports coffee farmers in Ecuador.
In the Intag valley in the north of Ecuador, coffee farmers are facing many challenges: climate change, deforestation, insect plague and high production costs. To face all those challenges, 150 coffee farmers have joined forces to create - with the support of Umicore and Rikolto - an association called AACRI. Johanna Renckens from Rikolto Ecuador explains what this help means for the coffee farmers:
"We support the farmers with a five-year plan, guiding them step by step in the professionalization of AACRI. We do this by setting up and implementing a business plan, improving product quality and positioning the product on the local and international market. This helps to ensure a secure harvest for both farmers and consumers.”
“Our first objective is to create a stable income for the current generation of farmers by making AACRI a financially strong and well-managed association. Later on, we want to focus even more on the socio-cultural aspect and of course on the ecological aspect, although the latter is inextricably linked to the steps we have already taken: the quality of coffee cannot be improved without taking the natural environment into account. In the end, we strive for sustainability in all areas: profit, people and planet.”
Supporting sustainable energy in Mali: 2017 – 2021
Educational initiatives are particularly relevant for Umicore as a technology oriented business. It’s even more relevant when the project is about sustainable energy. In this context Umicore is supporting the VIA Don Bosco NGO in professionally training vulnerable young people in electricity and photovoltaic energy in Mali.
As green energy is growing in Africa, most visibly in the use of solar panels, there is a clear need for a specific education in this domain. Thanks to the project, these young people benefit from a decent education and contribute to the growth of sustainable energy. Every year, Umicore makes it possible for more than 250 students to follow a training course.
Pascaline Cisse, a young lady who followed education in the Don Bosco center in Sikasso, tells about the impact it had on her life: “I am proud of my degree in electricity even though, before I started with the program, some people told me it’s not a job for girls. But it felt like a vocation to me and I was very eager to attend courses. Today I have a good job so I’m able to save some money which I’m using to rebuild the family house and equip it with solar panels”.
Supporting one-year student projects around the world
Every year, Umicore selects and supports one project of the Louvain Coopération NGO which gives Belgian students, in collaboration with students from universities in developing countries, the opportunity to search for appropriate and sustainable technological solutions to problems faced by local populations.
In 2019, the students made a difference for some families living in extreme poverty in the shanty town of Cochabamba in Bolivia with little or no access to electricity. They implemented the ‘Liter of light’ solution, which involves reusing plastic bottles as solar energy lamps. Installing the bottles on the roof of the modest dwellings helped to increase security in the local communities.
Through all these projects executed in collaboration with local organizations, Umicore promotes social and economic business initiatives that can be a significant driver in the economy, providing prosperity and employment opportunities in low and middle-income countries.
All the projects supported by Umicore through Ondernemers voor Ondernemers:
- are ecologically and socially sustainable
- directly and permanently benefit the local population
- are self-sustainable in the medium term
- contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals