For the past 12 months I researched investments that match the impact I want to have while creating financial returns.
As I outlined in the difference between impact and ethical investing, I tried to find projects with actual impact. We invested in a few and I found more that we did not invest in. So here is the first one (not as financial advice, just sharing our journey) and why we did it.
- an ethical camel milk production process that can be scaled quickly without the need for owning farming land
- the production of baby formula milk powder (which lasts and can be shipped) for people who cannot digest cows milk
- a strong financial base through the use of professional investment promoters (Birchal for crowdfunding, an experienced team for an ASX listing) and reaching profitability.
I liked that the camel mothers and calves were kept together rather than separated as with cow milk production. I also liked that wild camels (who are often a pest) were being domesticated for the operations and are able to keep roaming in quite large paddocks instead of being crammed together (like some milking cows). And I liked that the milk has a lot of benefits that cow’s milk does not have.
Good Earth Dairy focused on figuring out the processes and sold the milk as a secondary concern in service of the bigger vision. Even though, it constantly sells out in the Western Australian supermarkets and gives the business a strong base for reaching profitability soon. Instead of resting there, their sights are set higher with a $6 Million milk powder production facility, hence the new fundraising that is currently open.
As this is a start-up, it is quite speculative. It means we might lose all our funds. However, as the focus is on becoming profitable rather than reaching ever higher valuations through future investor rounds, we invested some more in the current round (see Birchal). While the timeline changed a bit from last year, Marcel seems to hold a strong vision and implements it with care and flexibility.
How did I go with the impacts I want to have?
Cofounder Stephen Geppert travelled through the Australian deserts with camels for a year. While I have not met him, his love for camels has likely flowed into the processes, thus leading to joy for camels and people.
I trust the research around the health benefits of camel milk (non-allergen, easier to digest and higher in micronutrients), so that should be a tick.
Anyone with a vision is hopeful for a positive future. Selling out the milk locally seems to prove that this is flowing into the community.
Closing natural resource loops
Camels need less feed than cows, They graze (like sheep) and browse (like antelopes) and as they move while feeding (no matter how rich or poor the vegetation is), they cause less degradation. Their droppings can be managed much more easily as it is dry.
My assumption is that the milking stations don’t require a lot of power and solar energy is used on site. In addition, methane production is substantially lower than from cows.
Taking feral camels out of nature should create space for native species.
So overall, I am feeling really good about this and am excited to see the progress over the next few years.
Thanks to Saj Shafique for the camel photo.