The Platform for Sustainable Change

Ubuntoo

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 14. Life Below Water 17. Partnerships for the Goals

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.” 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 UN's 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 a platform for those that lacked the resources or influence to build a relationship with big corporations.” They realized that smaller 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 a platform to unite innovators and industry to “consolidate the pace of discovery.” This network that Ubuntoo provides lays the groundwork for solutions to cultivate positive environmental impacts around the globe.

The Platform for Sustainable Change

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 want to make a positive impact. Schelstraete and Kini decided to come together and create Ubuntoo.

Overall impact

Ubuntoo may have recently launched its platform in March of 2019, but it is already making strides with industry. In the past, the relationship between innovators and industry leaders has made it difficult for ecopreneurs to be noticed by the 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 tended to focus on the problems at hand, and very little focus was put 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. Their approach is different because they decided it would be best to not focus on the issues at hand, rather, they wanted to focus on making the platform revolve around the solutions. Because the Ubuntoo platform exists, the difficulty of connecting with large industry leaders is gone. In the forum tab on the site, businesses can ask questions, make connections, and promote ideas. Since the site went live, there are “about 780 solutions on the platform with more than 700 more needing to be approved as of February 2020,” says Schelstraete. Those eco-entrepreneurs do not have to pay to be displayed on Ubuntoo. This is significant because it gives them a platform on which they can promote their product or service. The beauty of Ubuntoo is that it grants eco-entrepreneurs the ability to connect with businesses looking for sustainable solutions locally and abroad.

When businesses buy products that are sustainable and eco-friendly, this is positive for their reputation and shows that they care for something bigger than themselves. Understanding this, Ubuntoo wants to make a platform where the customer can not only scroll through potential business partners but also see what is being created and what parts of the industry are still untapped. The business benefits from the innovation through the profits it makes through the tiered membership system that members can choose based on their specific needs. There are currently three membership tiers: subscriber, member, and enterprise. The subscriber tier is free and allows limited searches, newsletters, and forum participation. The member tier is $500 per year and allows for the subscriber benefits along with unlimited searches, follow solutions, full forum features, notification & alerts, and the ability to contact innovators. The final tier as of this article being published is the enterprise tier which does not have a cost listed. It includes the member benefits along with the ability to have multiple users, personalized feeds, custom searches, a company dashboard, and Ubuntoo. There is also an unlisted “special membership category” tier for scientists, researchers, academicians, and non-profits. These memberships make up the core of Ubuntoo’s business model.


Social and environmental benefit

Ubuntoo has impacted society through the spreading of innovations related to sustainability. They have made their 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 that 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 their 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 are making positive change all over the globe that may never meet, but with Ubuntoo, they don’t have to.

Interview

Peter Schelstraete, Co-founder & CEO

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Ubuntoo

Ubuntoo

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Business Website: https://ubuntoo.com/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

As a unique collaboration network, members can partner seamlessly with innovators and stay updated on the most recent research and industry news. Plus, we keep our platform easily searchable and user-friendly, so finding a solution won't be a problem.