The Platform for Change-makers

Ubuntoo

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water

Overview

Ubuntoo is a platform made for those of us who want to be the change. The Ubuntoo namesake is derived from the African word ubuntu, which roughly means “I am what I am because of who we all are.” The name Ubuntoo suggests that we understand that we created this predicament together and together we must commit to discovering solutions. Ubuntoo believes that the world’s largest environmental problems can be solved by working together. Ubuntoo has been connecting innovators and industry leaders since 2019 to create the optimal online space for innovative solutions to the world’s plastic pollution issue. To combat large scale problems, the innovators of the world need to be connected with the large corporations that are creating these issues. Soon Ubuntoo will focus on more than just plastic pollution, but other issues related to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ubuntoo is an online platform for innovators and industry leaders to connect and collaborate on solutions and technologies to reduce plastic pollution.

Author

Thomas Knapp

Thomas Knapp

School

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Professor

Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum

Innovation

There are few resources available to industry leaders who want to shift to a more sustainable model. Together, Peter Schelstraete and Venkatesh Kini created Ubuntoo because they wanted to "create an online platform for those that lacked the resources or influence to build a relationship with big corporations.” They realized that small scale innovators' abilities to reach larger industries were extremely limited and that “innovators just didn’t know which doors to knock on.” Their innovation was to fill that collaborative gap in the market and create an online platform to unite innovators and industry to “consolidate the pace of discovery”. The network that Ubuntoo provides lays the groundwork for solutions to cultivate positive environmental impacts around the globe.

The Platform for Change-makers

Inspiration

As the platform idea was being developed, the founders wanted to bring three specific elements to the site: “solutions and innovators, knowledge and news, and expertise through experts.” All these elements were to come together to fight against single-use plastics and plastic pollution. These make up the core elements of Ubuntoo, the self-proclaimed “digital gathering place for the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels.” From his own experiences living in the Philippines and working in Africa and Asia, Schelstraete saw that many environmental issues affected the planet. He decided that solutions to environmental issues needed to be exponentially more accessible to industry and he wanted to make a positive impact. As a result, Schelstraete and Kini came together to create Ubuntoo.

Overall impact

Ubuntoo may have recently launched its platform in March of 2019, but it is already making strides in industry. In the past, the relationship between innovators and industry leaders has made it difficult for ecopreneurs to be noticed by industry. Large companies are not aware that more environmentally friendly/cost-effective choices are readily available. Schelstraete recognized this saying, “large companies are missing out on such an amazing selection of innovators in the world.” Ubuntoo allows these solutions to come into the limelight and allows ecopreneurs to be seen by those large companies. Schelstarete realized that, as a society, we tend to focus on the problems at hand and very little focus is on solving these issues. Ubuntoo has assisted in international collaborations that are already making positive impacts in our society. The Forum tab (which is accessible after making an account) gives Ubuntoo members the power to converse with other innovators online and gives a location on the platform for discussion. Ubuntoo is the only platform that has been created to “connect the world's change-makers” to tackle the environmental crisis. It is an exhibit of environmental innovation in real-time.

Business benefit

Ubuntoo’s innovation was developing a platform to connect industry with innovators. The company's approach is different because it decided it would be best to not focus on the issues at hand, but rather to focus on making the platform revolve around the solutions. Since the site went live, there have been “about 780 solutions on the platform with more than 700 more needing to be approved as of February 2020,” said Schelstraete. Those eco-entrepreneurs do not have to pay to be displayed on Ubuntoo, this is significant because it gives them a platform. The beauty of Ubuntoo is that it grants eco-entrepreneurs the ability to connect with businesses looking for sustainable solutions locally and abroad.

Social and environmental benefit

Ubuntoo has impacted society by the spreading of innovations related to sustainability. The company has made its presence known through all branches of social media, posting interesting environmental projects, technologies, and stories. Ubuntoo is not only a platform that highlights innovations, but it’s also a place where important conversations start. The platform is also for those who want to stay up-to-date on sustainable news or ask experts questions related to sustainable technology. It is a platform that anyone can access. Ubuntoo was developed to connect people for the sake of sustainability to learn, teach, and make a positive impact on the world. Ubuntoo is proof that innovations are being made to fight against the plastic pollution crisis. And as Ubuntoo grows, so will its ability to focus on more environmental issues, such as climate change. The people working at Ubuntoo understand that we are all connected and need to be transparent to solve these problems. Innovators who have never met are making positive change all over the globe.

Interview

Peter Schelstraete, Co-Founder & CEO

Photo of interviewee

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Ubuntoo

Ubuntoo

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Business Website: https://ubuntoo.com/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Ubuntoo believes that the world's biggest environmental issues can indeed be solved. By connecting individuals through an online platform, the company's mission is to accelerate sustainable solutions for collaboration and global impact. Ubuntoo is a community of believers and achievers, a gathering place where competitors become collaborators and research becomes reality. Ubuntoo is connecting changemakers around the world in an effort to shape the industry today by achieving the sustainable change of tomorrow.