Carble – Rewarding Smallholder Coffee Farmers for Storing Carbon

Climate change is a global emergency that goes beyond national borders. It is an issue that requires international cooperation and coordinated solutions at all levels. One of the main drivers of climate change is deforestation. If tropical deforestation was a country, it would rank 3rd in CO2 emissions, only behind China and the United States of America. Carbon emissions from land-use change are so high that in most cases they make up two-thirds of the total carbon footprint of a bag of roasted coffee.

Carble won the Copernicus Masters Regional Prize The Netherlands in 2021 with its solution to this problem.

Ke Ni (KN) interviews Sander Reuderink (SR), CEO of Carble B.V

KN: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.

SR: ​​Deforestation-free or low-carbon commodities are only possible when farmers grow their products on an agroforestry farm. Agroforestry systems mix crops like coffee plants with shade trees, resulting in massive carbon storage. Sadly, farmers cannot afford the lower yields and resulting income, and cut down the forest. Carble helps coffee brands reduce their carbon footprint by rewarding farmers for storing carbon in a measurable, scalable and cost-effective way using remote sensing, carbon accounting and livelihood monitoring.

Carble was founded in 2021 by myself (Sander Reuderink), Noura Hanna and Lodewijk van der Meer. We are experienced in the coffee industry, sustainability, and technology sector. For years we had been thinking about different ways to ensure that coffee can benefit all humans within the supply chain while remaining within our planetary boundaries. With Carble, we believe we have a shot at making this a reality.

KN: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?

SR: Funding is always the most important challenge for early-stage startups. How do you reach the milestones that make your startup ‘investor ready’ prior to raising any capital?

We solved this by using grants from GIZ’s Coffee Innovation Fund and the ESA BIC programme to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) of our service while also working part-time on paid jobs. Once the MVP was ready and we had some commercial traction, we were able to raise our first round of venture capital.

KN: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?

SR: The key ingredients to Carble’s value proposition are Remote Sensing (Satellite data), Carbon Accounting and Livelihoods Monitoring. We use Remote Sensing to accurately quantify the amount of carbon that is stored on individual small-scale farmers’ agroforestry farms. Our customers, the coffee and cocoa brands, can now reward their farmers for the carbon they store. We quantify the resulting carbon reductions using existing carbon accounting standards, so they can be included in the brands’ Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting. Finally, we monitor the impact of these payments on the livelihoods of the farmers’ households in order to report how many farmers are now able to earn a living income.

KN: What did you expect from Carble winning the Copernicus Masters Regional Prize The Netherlands and how do you think the initiative and its network have helped you to kick-start your business case?

SR: We were invited to join by Martijn Leinweber from ESA BIC Noordwijk. We liked the opportunity to improve our pitch and, of course, we wanted to win the Copernicus Masters Regional Prize and show our startup to the world! We were very happy with the results and the feedback we received was extremely useful. Besides that, the small cash reward and other perks were very welcome for an early-stage startup like Carble.

KN: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in Carble’s future?

SR: Coffee can only benefit all people in the supply chain while remaining within our planetary boundaries if we ensure that environmental sustainability becomes economically sustainable as well. This is our vision, and we are aiming high to make it a reality: by 2030, we plan to have generated a billion euros in additional income for a million small-scale farmers while preventing a billion tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. 

Did you enjoy this interview with the outstanding startup? Anyone interested can get into contact with Carble via sander@carble.co.

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