In the United Arab Emirates, Goumbook is the leading social enterprise promoting green practices and sustainable living since 2009. To focus on environmental sustainability and responsibility, the company aims to make a community where all the businesses, consumers, experts, and organizations work together towards the common goal. The company has the vision to change people’s mindsets regarding the environment and be more responsible for their environment by changing their attitude.
The organization is a social enterprise, which is why they support the United Nations Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals to bring about change in their community and positively impact society. Through different initiatives, the organization aims to spread awareness about green practices and the environment's sustainability. The company has introduced an initiative recently called ‘Rethink Plastic,’ and choosing to support that initiative means that a person will not use plastic and say ‘no’ to it. People who take such initiatives' memberships will be donating 5% of their membership fees to an organization that provides safe, clean drinking water to different global communities. The goals to be reached by this initiative include: plastic waste will be eliminated, emissions will be reduced, it will help people save their money, and toxic chemicals will be reduced.
The organization works with different media sources, charities, NGO’s, and government institutions to give a boost to environmental sustainability in society. The organization’s main objective is to make people interact who want to make the environment better, e.g., consumers, manufacturers, and retailers. The company is working to strengthen green practices and provide sustainable solutions mainly available in the United Arab Emirates and across the MENA region. The organization has taken specific initiatives to work towards its goal. Following are the initiatives: Drop It, Drop It Youth, Fair Care, Eat It or Save It, Give a Ghaf, Refill & Go, Sustainable Mena, United Arab Emirates Can.
These are the leading eight initiatives that the organization has taken and has shown significant progress in the region. The very first initiative taken by the company was ‘Drop It,’ and it was very successful and that gave rise to another similar initiative only to empower people from 11 to 22 years of age so that they could reduce the use of plastic from their class, schools and ultimately from larger communities. With the phenomenal guidance provided to students by Goumbook, students become ambassadors of Drop It Youth who are more conscious towards their environment, and they also promote sustainable practices in their schools, class and their communities.
Another amazing initiative taken by the company is ‘Eat It or Save It,’ which was undertaken to keep in mind the region's current situation where people waste lots of food daily. This initiative is rather profound and makes a person ponder things that the community now takes lightly. This initiative is taken to save resources in the longer run. For example, every time a person does not eat an apple and throws it away, the person has wasted five buckets of water, for that is how much water is required to grow just one apple. Imagine all the water, soil, land, and other resources used to grow all the food grown only with one purpose in mind, i.e., to consume it. World Hunger is increasing day by day, yet a study showed that 37% of the total food produced globally is wasted. We are responsible for saving the environment by being responsible for doing little actions to save our environment. Hence, the organization wants to make a difference by doing different things that can be done by different people of different age groups so that together people could make a more significant difference in society.
Nawaf Al Ali
University of Dubai
Goumbook was different in its innovative ideas; unlike other companies, their innovation resides in how they work in the company towards their aim. The company's innovation started in the very beginning. As a matter of fact, it started when the founder Tatiana thought of launching a sustainable business, where at that time, the concept of sustainability wasn't as clear and acceptable as it is now. Therefore proceeding with such an idea was extremely risky, but the community and the environment she lived in were why she achieved her goals.
They started their journey, trying to know the best way to communicate with people from the local community and engage. Only by changing mindsets will a real positive change occur and sustain. The idea at the beginning; was to keep the company sustainable and help other parties make the right decision when it comes to choosing green products/services that suit them.
Another innovation of the business is the type of opportunities offered to people in the UAE, specifically those who proceeded with higher education and have the experience. The company had significant flexibility that they worked with and offered to employees. They have given themselves and their people the same flexibility to collaborate with other social enterprises, public and private organizations.
Through flexibility, the founder made sure to empower women, especially mothers that had minimal chances of getting a part-time job that allows mothers to take care of other aspects in their life. At the same time, another essential aspect of being sustainable is transparency. As the concept was vague and not much understood by people when launching the business, the company provided full transparency that gives people and partners they trust that any company would need.
Give a Gaff tree planting program was one of the innovative initiatives to help increase the awareness among children in schools, students in universities, and people interested in contributing to bringing positive change to the local environment. Goumbook was one of the first social enterprises to initiate such programs in the Middle East. Like most other initiatives and programs launched by this company, it shares one main goal: education awareness through changing mindsets positively and enabling students to make the right decisions. The same goal is embedded in different ways in their different programs and initiatives. One main initiative is creating an App that encourages people to reduce and almost eliminate plastic bottles and use reusable ones. The App is part of the initiative Refill & Go that was launched in 2015. The App mainly tells users the nearest places they can refill their water, whether restaurants, coffee shops, or even malls.
The founder Tatiana was the main figure in launching and approaching people with the mindset of being sustainable and very few volunteers. She later decided to invest in one employee after seven years because she believed she could make positive changes. ‘’That investment was empowerment’’ as she stated in the interview. Goumbook worked and engaged workers in the company and external stakeholders by conducting awareness sessions and initiative programs, whether they were individuals or companies who needed and wanted to be part of the positive change process.
Partnerships were among the business's main factors in launching campaigns and hosting events and conferences in different places like Dubai Marina Mall and Dubai Chamber. The partnership element was an important aspect that gives the company a chance to reach their goals and align themselves with sustainable development goals. As part of Goal #17, ''partnership'', they also value their partners' engagement to align them with the same goals through their participation in the events/ initiatives hosted by Goumbook. To help them choose the right partners, they have a Global Goals Program program that empowers companies and facilitates the process of showing their commitment towards the environment, society, and well-being of the UAE. The evidence that shows the positive impact they have brought can be measured in the number of people participating in their sessions and their effective contributions. Finally, the company is working on tackling more SDG’s in their upcoming projects and campaigns to make the impact positively greater.
Goumbook is a social enterprise that started 11 years ago, in November 2009. The company's cause is to start a platform that is green and sustainable. In the beginning, it was difficult to approach people with the idea of going green since everyone thought it was weird, But that did not stop them from trying and, from now on, to inspire society with their green products and services. The difficulties they faced were the permissions needed to start their campaigns, as in the UAE, they could not just start a campaign; they had to ask for permissions and wait for the permissions to be approved. Their first attempt at an event was in the Mall of the Emirates (MOE). Unfortunately, it was not approved, but the management of MOE was still interested in their business. They introduced them to the Dubai Mall management, and there was their first participation in an event called EPIC.
The way this enterprise has never given up their goals is incredible, As they were not accepted at the very beginning when society thought their idea was weird. After getting declined for participation in an event, they did not stop but kept going forward. Now, Goumbook is the leading social enterprise promoting sustainable living and green practices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); their goal is to help individuals and groups to meet their sustainability goals. Furthermore, of course, to go by the rules and regulations of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they met a couple of lawyers to know what could be done and what could not be done. The enterprise was about volunteering participants, but after the founder, Tatiana thought about it, she hired a paid employee. She had seen that this employee started interacting more with the company and producing more ideas. This company is also not about profit at all as all the money collected goes out as either salaries or starting new campaigns.
As they have been handling and participating in many campaigns, the company has gathered a lot of information and knowledge. The main inspiration was the environment in the UAE, specifically the desert. The founder thought of many ideas that could bring life to the desert and the entire environment. Planting Ghaf trees was the company's first initiative and the idea that had a significant impact.
Changing the Mindset
The first impact of Goumbook on the community is developing positive mindsets towards the environment. Goumbook utilizes various effective measures to create community members’ positive attitudes towards environmental protection and conservation. For instance, the organization educates its clients to enhance their understanding of the beliefs, interests, and benefits of protecting the environment. Notably, the organization’s fundamental aim of educating its clients is to impact the essential values and attitudes to solve various environmental challenges they encounter. Furthermore, fostering employees’ positive attitude towards the environment encourages their members to participate actively in environmental improvement and protection. Overall, organizations should develop their stakeholders' positive attitude towards environmental protection to reduce pollution and improve living standards.
Creating Employment Opportunities
The second noble impact of Goumbook is creating job opportunities for youth. Notably, unemployment is one of the notable factors that hinder economic development and increase illegal activities, such as drug trafficking and crimes. As a result, firms take a corporate social responsibility of creating job opportunities for society members to increase their revenue generation and improve their economic status. For instance, Goumbook offers employment opportunities to approximately 15,000 youth by engaging them in the organizational production system. Notably, increased income generation enables community members to attain essential services, such as competent education and high-quality healthcare services, which improves their living standards. Moreover, increasing employment opportunities enhances the economy’s stability by reducing the incentive for antisocial behaviors, such as illegal drug trafficking and other petty crimes. Overall, companies should create job opportunities since it improves the living standards of the community members.
Planting of Ghafs Trees
The third notable impact of Goumbook is planting trees to conserve the environment. Trees are among the essential environmental conservation elements since they absorb pollutant gases, such as carbon dioxide, to avoid their accumulation in the atmosphere, leading to global warming. The second importance of trees is absorbing soil water and releasing it to the atmosphere through transpiration, which increases the amount of rainfall received in certain places. The additional benefit of trees is forming canopies that act as shades that are a barrier to dangerous ultraviolet rays from the sun that could cause diseases, such as skin cancer. The last advantage of trees is reducing water run-off to check soil erosion and its adverse impacts, such as causing landslides. Notably, Goumbook spearheads the planting of Ghaf trees to enhance environmental protection and conservation. For example, the organization has planned approximately 95,000 Ghafs to absorb excess carbon dioxide and conserve the environment. Overall, people should plant trees in deforested areas since trees have multiple benefits, including reducing air pollution and attracting rainfall.
Recycling Plastic Bottles
The last impact of Goumbook is cleaning the environment to reduce its pollution rates and enhance its productivity. Environmental protection is one of Goumbook’s fundamental goals. Notably, the quality of the environment where people interact determines their living conditions since staying in a polluted environment increases their likelihood of contracting diseases. Comparably, living in a clean environment improves residents’ health and consequently foster their economic development. Careless disposal of plastic bottles is one of the leading causes of environmental pollution in most places.
Consequently, corporate social responsibility influences companies to reduce the careless disposal of plastics to the environment. For example, Goumbook recycles 1,000,000 plastic bottles to reduce their accumulation in the environment. Furthermore, recycling plastic conserves the environment since it reduces pollutant gases’ emission into the atmosphere, leading to adverse implications, such as global warming. Overall, companies should implement appropriate strategies, such as recycling plastic bottles, to reduce environmental pollution and improve their sustainability.
A significant advantage that the company has gained through its innovative initiatives is the knowledge and expertise of the market. The company enlightens other companies about different green methods of production and connects them to customers. The company started EPIC, where enterprises meet at various events to develop new sustenance and green production methods. The business also allows other businesses to understand details about sustainability and the benefits that come with it.
The company has also encouraged green technology development; these strategies have allowed the business to evolve in a mutually beneficial way. The company is also a pioneer in its reefing innovation. The interviewee describes it as the “McDonald” in the industry. This has given it recognition in the country and globally. This consequently increases revenue and profits. It has also made it the reference for other social enterprises. Thus, the business system has been beneficial to itself and others within the industry or close relations. Again, the company has dramatically improved other companies by changing management teams to interact and support each other. That is, companies can merge, become each other’s customers, or support each other in other different ways. Bringing other companies together to create sustainability creates new long-term relationships that are essential for networking. The company also connects businesses to the customer. It has a customer awareness program that educates the customers about sustainable green products and connects them to producers. This functions to benefit the customers and companies. The company became a social enterprise, which makes a profit. However, the profit is directed to other sustainability, social, and environmental functions.
Goumbook has also made various positive impacts on society and the environment. First, the company has created various environmental sustainability campaigns, which have gone a long way in improving the country’s situation. For example, the initiative to plant trees has gone a long way in influencing people to plant trees and create a better environment around them. It created partnerships with landowners and other organizations to ensure tree planting in UAE. Another good example is the campaign to discourage using the plastic bottle, which has reduced its amount of plastic disposal. By supporting green companies, the organization encourages people to move towards environment-friendly practices. Goumbook has been on the front lines in the campaign to reduce emissions. In its efforts, the country has seen a cleaner atmosphere. The campaign and education to reduce chemical toxins in food, water, and air have also been a significant step. Therefore, Goumbook is a very effective company in sustaining the environment.
Secondly, the business has allowed cohesion and social exchange among the people. Some of the partners for the company are from different parts of the world. As such, their social interaction increases the cohesion and cultural exchange among them. The company also contributes to the community by offering employment opportunities to the local community. It has provided 3,000 job opportunities for the community, translating to better living standards and financial stability. The partnering companies also become potential employers to the local community. The company has also been helping the immediate community, its customers, and followers to save money. By introducing sustainable ways of filtering water and other water/energy conservation methods, the company has allowed thousands of people to save money. The refiling system is also a very effective way of saving money because refiling water is cheaper than buying expensive plastic bottles. Finally, the company has contributed to the community by creating a social-economically sustainable environment—the jobs, interactions, and contribution towards environmental conservation all point towards a sustainable community.
The company has also acted as a mentor and support to start-up businesses. Thus, start-ups can use the knowledge to develop their community-oriented projects. This means that the company indirectly influences the community's positive impact by influencing others to be environmentally sensitive. There has been an indirect positive impact on the farmers, too. Considering that the company creates room for environmental improvements, it indirectly increases soil fertility and rainy weather. Thus, crop farmers can benefit from the program. The program also creates a favorable environment for animal rearing, considering less plastic pollution.
Conclusively, Goumbook enlightens companies about different green methods of production and connects them to the customers. Therefore, bringing other companies together to create sustainability creates new long-term or short-term relationships essential for networking. Goumbook created various environmental sustainability campaigns, which have gone a long way in improving the country's situation. The company has also offered numerous employment opportunities to the local community. It has provided 3,000 job opportunities for the community, translating to better living standards and financial stability. In so doing, the company has benefited the business and the community. It has become a recognized pioneer in the social enterprise industry, which differentiates itself from the NGOs.
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder
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Business Website: http://www.goumbook.com
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
In the United Arab Emirates, Goumbook is the leading social enterprise promoting green practices and sustainable living since 2009. Goumbook uses technology for the betterment of the planet that is inspired by nature. The organization aims to improve the quality of life for all living beings, especially human beings, by using microalgae to minimize respiratory diseases and eliminate air pollution.