"Customers Now Vote With Their Wallet" ~ Simon Schillebeeckx (Handprint.Tech)
More & more people are choosing sustainable and regenerative brands. This interview features a deep dive with Simon Schillebeeckx, a co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Handprint and also an assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Singapore Management University (SMU), specializing in Digital Sustainability.
We discuss how Handprint.tech is enabling us to contribute to plastic clean-up projects at no extra costs to you and how their innovative platform allows for the best dollar-per impact ensuring that even small orders will make a big difference.
What inspired you to co-create a meaningful technology (Handprint.Tech) that has a positive impact on the world?
Two co-founders published a paper that was discussed at Davos, highlighting that up to 80% of contributions to regenerative projects were absorbed by intermediaries and inefficient legacy processes. From this frustration we started Handprint and developed a technology to solve this at scale.
What is Handprint’s scientific approach to assess, monitor, and report real-world impact?
We often get this question so we wrote a simple blog post about it!
How we assess and monitor real world impact will be work in progress forever because it will always be able to be improved. We started with a lot of experience in forestry and are working with partners to estimate carbon sequestration using advanced machine learning and remote sensing.
For other projects, like ocean clean up, our partners have governmental certifications about how much plastic they remove from the ocean on a weekly basis.
In terms of reporting, our visualization tools enable real world, real time impact reporting - which is a massive step forward in how NGOs and companies typically communicate their impact.
What is essential to us is to give access to high quality impact generation and a lot of that inevitably comes down to working with high quality partners in the field.
Also, we know that incumbent monitoring certifications can syphon off up to 80% of the money dedicated to impact and we wanted to built a much more efficient system. Hence, we are offering low cost monitoring solutions to increase access to funding and, for companies that expect higher degrees of certainty, we layer additional services like third party audits on top of our current services so additional costs can be born in a transparent way by our clients.
What made you want to use blockchain technology and what are the benefits of using this?
The use of blockchain technology enables us to create a universal proof of uniqueness, and cashflow transparency. It enables every impact partner and client the ability to see who has contributed and the amount of impact. This is important to solve the double-selling problem. In many cases, it is almost impossible to guarantee that the impact partner doesn't sell the same tree or kg of plastic to a different person. There are of course reputation risks involved and moral hazard is always a potential problem in this space.
By creating a publicly auditable impact registry, we are working to significantly reduce this risk and build trust to continuously enhance the total social value of what we do.
How does Handprint optimize each contribution to make the most impact?
We do this by not making a profit on impact: as a social enterprise, we are committed to bypassing intermediaries who eat up to 80% of sponsorship funds flowing to impact projects. Therefore, 95% of every sponsorship dollar goes directly to communities on the field, allowing us to have one of the best dollar-to-impact rates in the world, being on average 68% cheaper than our competitors.
That 5% that we currently charge needs to be compared to the 20-30% NGOs typically spend on fundraising. We also do invoicing, transaction aggregation, and marketing for our impact partners and clients, so it's a great deal. Even if we would double or triple the percentage we keep, our Impact partners would still be better off than if they raise money via other avenues. You can read more about it over here on our website.
Why is it important for customers to support regenerative brands?
Customers now vote with their wallet. By supporting regenerative brands over non-sustainable brands, they are empowered to play their part in fighting climate change. They create and influence markets, raise awareness among their own communities, support ethical work, etc.
In other words, the more positive actions we all generate, the bigger the snowball effect and the better for our planet. 🌏
Cherry on the cake: it provides a feel-good sensation instead of the usual guilt that comes with a doom-and-gloom narrative. 😉
Do you believe people will be happier to support regenerative brands, especially when the initiative won’t cost them anything extra?
Let's allow the statistics to do the talking. In a survey conducted by Wunderman Thompson, we can see that most customers are looking toward the companies to take the lead in this.
"I'm so excited to buy more from you guys - Also I plan to do competitions and I plan on supporting this brand and wearing during because I love that you guys are trying to be more environmentally friendly. You guys are the only company I've seen that is trying to be more eco friendly with their compression apparel. Much love!!"
~ Breuana M.
Here are some other statistics that you can have a look at that echoes the same stance.
Futerra reports that 88% of customers would like their brands to participate in environmentally sound practices.
Global Consumer Confidence Survey, with Nielsen shows that consumers seek companies that care about the environment.
Have you seen a positive trend of supporters of the eco-friendly movement in the past years? If so, what do you believe is the cause of this interest?
Yes definitely. We are currently based in Singapore and we see the "trend" increasing with each new catastrophe (scorching summer temperatures, forest fires and flash floods) - not just here but all around the world. It is a clear sign that climate change is real and happening faster than anticipated. Everyone is witnessing these effects of global warming increasing in intensity. This wake up call has caused many to rethink the way they've been living and their need to live more sustainably.
How does supporting brands like Submission Shark contribute to a regenerative and sustainable planet?
Submission Shark is removing 1kg of plastic from each sale to help clean up plastic from the oceans of Bintan. For each kg of plastic removed from the oceans, it helps restore populations of fish, sharks, etc. to allow the oceans to thrive again. There is also a human impact as fishes that eat plastic ends up on our plates, so that we inadvertently consume that plastic which isn't healthy.
Why did you choose SCS and why are they focusing on Bintan, Indonesia?
Seven Clean Seas is building projects in the top seven worst plastic polluting countries globally and with a high plastic leakage rate within Indonesia, this is a top priority to have maximum impact.
They are laser focused on the ASEAN region at this moment in time as unfortunately, environmental plastic pollution is not a linear problem across the globe and somewhat unbelievably, the seven most plastic polluting countries are all in South East and South Asia. Since Handprint was founded in Asia, it made a lot of sense for us to work with a project over here as well for ease of communication and relevancy.
Another reason we love SCS is their aim to use efficient preventive and collection methods in locations with the highest leakage (like Indonesia) which will ultimately curb Ocean Plastic pollution in our oceans globally.
What are some of the negative impact of plastic on wildlife and humans:
With an average 11 million metric tonnes of plastic waste entering the marine ecosystems every single year and far more leaking into our terrestrial biospheres it is no wonder there is an adverse effect on wildlife biodiversity and abundance as well as human health.
The impact of plastics on marine wildlife can be broken down into two categories:
A. Direct physical impact:
These usually involve macroplastics, this is the direct impact of throwing a plastic water bottle into the ocean. Some of the causes of death from macroplastics within animal species include everything from entanglement, ingestion leading to suffocation and even starvation.
B. Secondary physiological impact:
If not removed quickly, macroplastics breakdown and then become microplastics. There is a considerable lack of transparency of chemicals used in the creation of plastics and as a result there is huge uncertainty in how these plastics breakdown in the environment and within humans and wildlife. WWF released a paper last year stating that humans ingest 5 grams of plastic a week (about the size of your credit card)!
~ No more plastic gift cards, send them virtually and share the benefits of removing plastic with your community! (Available in white, blue, purple, brown and black)
Even more recent science has found that microplastics, when ingested, cause inflammation and act as hormone blockers leading to growth defects and infertility in gametophytes of some species.
If you're interested in finding out more about how the plastic pollution issue effects you and your planet, you can read more about it over here.
How has this initiative helped the community at Bintan Island?
Besides the obvious consequence of leaving a cleaner environment to live in, ocean plastic cleanups with our partner Seven Clean Seas has helped provide stable employment in coastal areas, reducing the incidence of those areas being abandoned as people migrate to the cities in search of employment.
They employ the cleanup crews under traditional, full time circumstances and makes sure employees are being paid living wages, are covered by health insurance and have all the required PPE and equipment needed to do their jobs safely.
On top of that, the clean up initiatives has allowed a sense of community to be build whilst they have fun and achieve their goals. They also run educational workshops and talks for schools and businesses to expose and raise their awareness on the issues of plastic pollution.
Why should people support brands that have integrated sustainable apps and technology like Handprint?
Handprint has created tools that are not just innovative, but it solves the problem of transparency that most CSR teams and NGOs struggle with. On top of that our mission is to empower brands and customers to celebrate the positive impact they created, in real-time. We hope to help you forge that brand connection and loyalty with your customers through digital sustainability.
What would you like to say to everyone, from the volunteers of the projects to other brands and supporters of the app and every customer that’s hungry for more regenerative options?
Thank you for being a part of the Regenerative community and economy! Keep up the good work and may we all continue to grow with the planet, making it a better place to live. 🌏
Word of mouth and recommendation are very important to us, feel free to share in your networks. 🙏🏼💚
Simon Schillebeeckx is a co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Handprint and also an assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Singapore Management University (SMU), specializing in Digital Sustainability. He holds a PhD in Innovation Management from Imperial College London, and is a published author and former sustainability consultant. At 10, Simon told his parents that he wanted to win both the Nobel prize for Peace and Economics in the same year.
More and more martial artists just like you are joining together as a community to support regenerative and sustainable initiatives. With a leading environmentally friendly technology (handprint.tech) and your help, even a small order will make a big difference!
For every past order before we began collaborating with handprint.tech, we will be contributing towards the project through out the coming weeks/months adding to the total plastic collected. Thank you for your commitment towards a regenerative and sustainable future.
We made a mistake in the past by shipping items out in plastic bags but your support helps us provide new innovations within the martial arts and BJJ community to continue and improve upon the services so you can train and do what you love while having the peace of mind knowing that your decision to shop with us has made a positive impact. Look forward to your new BJJ Gis being delivered in compostable shipping bags rolling out at the start of 2022!
Shop Submission Shark BJJ Gear and remove 1kg of plastic and begin contributing to this initiative with Handprint.tech and Seven Clean Seas.