The selected startups come from 13 different countries and this year’s program received over 1200+ applications globally, double the amount of applications in its inaugural cohort. Startups applied to tackle six sustainability challenges: climate action, circular packaging, water stewardship, smart farming, smart drinking, and upcycling solutions.
These companies work with AB InBev globally, over the next 6 months to pilot and scale their new technology solutions. The teams will also receive mentorship, industry connections, training, and up to $100,000 for pilot execution, with the possibility of additional investment from AB InBev and its partners.
Meet the 17 companies taking part in the 2020 cohort:
Upcycled Nutrients (New York, New York) - Recovering and transforming nutrients from waste sources to sustainable enhanced efficiency fertilizers.
Project X (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)
The startups are landing in New York City this week for a training session and program kickoff with AB InBev, mentors and partners, with the goal on scaling companies’ solutions across the AB InBev’s value chain to support its sustainability goals. Learn more about the program here: https://100accelerator.com/
Cambrian Innovation, a leading commercial provider of distributed wastewater and resource recovery solutions, has successfully acquired Baswood, an expert in technology-based wastewater and biosolids management. The new partnership will accelerate Cambrian’s vision to treat industry as an ecosystem — extracting precious resources, like clean energy and clean water, from wastewater. Utilizing the companies’ combined and complementary technologies, Cambrian will now feature even more comprehensive and versatile solutions that can be applied across industries, as it continues to innovate toward a more sustainable water preservation system in the face of global water scarcity.
With this acquisition, Cambrian has doubled its number of installations worldwide and has expanded its customer base, which includes some of the biggest names in food and beverage, like LVMH-Domaine Chandon, AB InBev, and Keurig Dr Pepper, among others. The company will also continue expansion in residential and resort development with Discovery Land Company.
Baswood customers will benefit from Cambrian’s expansive suite of compatible solutions and its ability to optimize existing Baswood systems within its robust research and development lab. Additionally, prospective customers can radically reduce wastewater management costs through Cambrian’s service-based offering, the Water-Energy Purchase Agreement® (WEPA). The first-of-its-kind financing platform provides wastewater treatment and resource recovery as a monthly service with no hefty upfront costs.
The company is preparing to debut its second year of 100+ Accelerator, an incubator for startups working to solve global sustainability issues. Tony Milikin, chief sustainability and procurement officer at AB InBev, told Business Insider his goal is to create the world's biggest sustainability-focused accelerator, essentially like a green version of the popular television show "Shark Tank."
"We want to create the 'Shark Tank' that has all these green funds, which are coming up and are big," he said. "People like Larry Fink from [the investment company] BlackRock could get involved or a large network of high-net-worth celebrities that are really preaching about sustainability can come join us."
In its first round, Milikin said, AB InBev received 700 proposals from entrepreneurs around the world, eventually narrowing down the group to 14 teams that later received contracts worth a total $50 million.
"We believe the future is already here," Milikin said. "We just don't know where it is, so we need to crowdsource the world for these solutions."
Milikin said he is particularly proud of BanQu, an accelerator company that developed a blockchain system to help small African farmers prove they are AB InBev suppliers, thus allowing them to open bank accounts and develop lines of credit. Working together with AB InBev, BanQu was able to create infrastructure to increase transparency for farmers in the supply chain.
"We know they are connected to us and we are responsible for them — their livelihoods, subsistence, getting out of poverty," Milikin said of the farmers. "We have a responsibility as a community."
When top business leaders gather this month at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, they'll discuss the work they've done over the past year to embrace "stakeholder capitalism" and address climate change.
In the past year, more CEOs are talking up commitments to social good on the conference circuit. And as wildfires are ravaging an area of Australia larger than Switzerland, the stakeholder that matters most is the climate. On that front, all corporations must take more even more targeted action. AB InBev, for example, has launched a 100+ Accelerator program to fund startups helping the company solve its sustainability challenges.
In her current position as the Sustainability & Agricultural Development Director, APAC for Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), Diane Wauters has worked with 4,000 Indian farmers in three years. Now, she wants to work with 12,000 more in the next five years. AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has raked in a revenue of $54 billion 2018. With executives like Diane, the company is reimagining India’s many problems—such as water and waste management, which are touted as negatives—as great places to cause impact, by way of new tech in changing the way farmers produce crops and manage the supply chain. Diane has worked extensively in water management in China and has understood the pricing necessary to make sustainability products scale for startups. In this interview with YourStory, she explains why she believes Indian tech can solve sustainability goals at scale. Read more at: https://yourstory.com/2019/11/ab-inbev-diane-wauters-indian-farmers-startups-sustainability-goals?utm_pageloadtype=scroll
No poverty, zero hunger, total gender equality. We’re almost ten years out from the United Nations’ ambitious 2030 sustainable development goals—a blueprint to help us with challenges like access to clean water and combatting climate change—and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Increasingly, businesses are playing a leading role, as more and more corporations and small businesses, alike, focus on sustainability and how they can lend a hand to the planet. Executives across industries are realizing that sustainable practices aren’t just good for the environment, they also help to future-proof supply chains, fuel new product development and build reputation, inside and outside of the organization. The shift comes as consumers increasingly prefer sustainable products made by companies investing in sustainable business practices.
As Krystal Nelson, Founder and CEO of sustainability consulting firm I-Impakt Consulting LLC puts it, “If a company wants to stay competitive, avert risk and retain customers, embracing sustainability can no longer be an option. Companies that choose to forgo integrating business practices that ensure sustainable sourcing, protect human rights, and reduce carbon emissions put themselves at risk with compliance agencies and consumer loyalty.”
Many businesses have crafted their own sustainability goals that go hand-in-hand with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all 193 member states of the UN. Take one example: Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has a set of sustainability goals it wants to accomplish by 2025. The brewer has set out to save water, support farmers, reduce packaging, and reduce its carbon footprint.
To help, it took a cue from Silicon Valley and set up an accelerator, working with startup entrepreneurs worldwide on real solutions. The startups receive six months of programming, mentorship from top scientists, academics, venture capitalists and corporate sustainability leaders, up to $100,000 to pilot their solution within the supply chain, and the opportunity for investment from AB InBev and partners.
It’s a project that shows how AB InBev clearly sees the new role business can play in today’s socially conscious world. “When people look at companies, they look not only at what you offer in terms of products and services, but what’s behind those products and services,” Carlos Brito, the CEO of AB-InBev, recently told Fortune. “What are the values you believe in. What you’re trying to push in terms of solutions for the community at large.”
In the world of corporate-led sustainability, this program offers an example of early success.
The 21 companies that were selected to join the company’s 100+ Accelerator in its first year are already making headway on a variety of issues, from empowering farmers with new technology to making better use of wastewater.
“At AB InBev we have a long-term vision to build a company to last for the next 100+ years. Brewing the highest quality beer requires the highest quality natural ingredients, which is why we say that sustainability is our business,” said Tony Milikin, AB InBev’s Chief Sustainability & Procurement Officer. “Although we are a global company, our approach is rooted in the communities where we live and work. Through the 100+ Accelerator, innovators benefit from our resources, experience and global reach to speed their progress and scale.”
One of these startups, microbiologist Paul Baskis’s Baswood, is using its energy efficient treatment to clean wastewater, which is then reused. The tech mimics how algae breaks down organic materials in rivers, and it’s helping companies use water more sustainably. It’s a crucial effort, since by 2050, water could become a scarce resource for 5.7 billion people worldwide, according to the U.N., amid rapid population growth and unsustainable water practices. As part of the accelerator, Baswood piloted their technology at the Karbach brewery. By the end of the program, Baswood had successfully treated 75,000 gallons of wastewater for reuse in brewery operations.
Austin-based Accelerator startup BanQu is improving the finances of farmers in developing countries with its blockchain-based software. BanQu founder Ashish Gadnis saw the need for the technology while volunteering in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the U.S. Agency for International Development. He met a mother who couldn’t get a loan to pay for her child’s tuition because banks didn’t consider her paper receipts for her years of barley growing as valid proofs of sale. Now, BanQu’s tech gives farmers transparency into transactions and digital payments on their mobile devices. During the pilot, a few thousand farmers in Zambia and Uganda sold their harvests through BanQu to AB InBev’s local breweries. The tech is helping AB InBev in its goal to get 100% of direct farmers skilled, connected, and financially empowered.
Companies worldwide are also zeroing in on sustainable packaging, a goal also part of the SDGs. For AB InBev, success means getting 100% of its products in packaging that’s returnable or made almost entirely from recycled materials. Brazil’s Rodrigo Oliveira and his Green Mining startup are helping the brewer move toward that goal.
Oliveira, along with Adriano Leite and Leandro Metropolo, created software that uses sales data to find spots where a large amount of post-consumer waste – like beer bottles – is being generated, at bars and restaurants, for example. Green Mining installs a collection hub nearby. Collectors pick up the waste and bring it to the hub where it’s sorted for reuse by the manufacturer or recycling. Either way, the waste is kept out of the landfill. That’s crucial in Brazil, where Oliveira says some 75% of Brazilians don’t sort recyclables and most municipalities don't have recycling collection. During their pilot, Green Mining collected over 200 tons of glass across Sao Paolo, Rio de Janiero and Brazilia.
At startup Earthly Labs, CEO and founder Amy George has set out to solve the climate challenge by converting and avoiding CO2 emissions. The startup’s hardware and software helps breweries capture and reuse CO2, reducing both costs and emissions. Carbon capture is a key technology in achieving, AB InBev’s 2025 goal of a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions. Over and above that, by 2030 Earthly Labs has a goal of capturing 1 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions or the equivalent of 26 billion trees.
"To address a challenge like climate change by 2030, we need a combination of entrepreneurs innovating at breakneck speeds and industry leaders ready to experiment and deploy,” said George. “AB InBev's 100+ Accelerator has provided the perfect canvas for accelerating impact for Earthly Labs’ goal to avoid 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions"
Next week, the world’s political and business leaders will join together in New York City to discuss economic development, among a huge range of social and environmental issues. Together, they'll be seeking collective solutions toward achieving the ambitious SDGs. Cooperation, urgency and imagination are required if we are going to be successful.
AB InBev and representatives from the accelerator’s first cohort of 21 companies will talk about their innovations and how they’re helping the world at the upcoming Social Good Summit in New York City, Mashable's annual event in partnership with the UN Foundation that promotes the SDGs.
For 2019, AB InBev has set its sights on solving challenges like water scarcity, creating nutritious foods and beverages from its grain and yeast co-products, reducing the harmful use of alcohol, and making packaging more sustainable. Solutions will help the industry as a whole — and the world, as we come together for a more sustainable future.
On the surface, the industries of farming and finance couldn’t look any more different.
Sachin Shende, with farming in his blood and degrees in agricultural engineering and computational hydraulics, begs to differ. While working as a quantitative developer in London’s asset management sector, he started noticing the similarities between the fields.
“The concept of managing an asset and risk/return profile on the asset is same,” Sachin says. “However, contrary to the financial industry, agricultural industry lacks availability of data feeds and integrated software platform used for the decision making.”
Sachin is one of the co-founders of KisanHub, a software-as-a-service platform for the agri-food industry. The platform connects the “farm to factory gate” part of the supply chain, and is aimed at food and beverage enterprises who procure quality crops to make products for consumers.
Giles Barker, Sachin’s co-founder, has a family background in farming as well. When the two met at Cambridge’s Judge Business School, Giles told Sachin how his grandfather used pencil and paper to collect weather data and analyze it while he was a professor at the Cambridge School of Agriculture. “Our ideas were shaped through our personal journeys and backgrounds. We started KisanHub to optimize agriculture using software and data,” Sachin says.
The KisanHub platform gives food and beverage companies a direct connection to farmers, allows for accurate data capturing, and provides data analytics and predictive tools to empower data-driven decisions. It creates complete traceability and helps farmers grow crops sustainably. “The holy grail is really to provide the supply chain intelligence — information on the quantity and quality of the crops grown by farmers,” Sachin explains.
The Cambridge, UK-based company had about 3,500 users on the platform when a venture capitalist told them about 100+ Accelerator — a recently launched sustainability accelerator powered by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Highline Beta. KisanHub joined the inaugural cohort.
The accelerator gives startups with leading-edge sustainability solutions an expedited path to a commercial deal with AB InBev, helping the international beverage company meet its 2025 sustainability goals. “100+ is unique,” Sachin says. “Because of this program we got an opportunity to address one of the sustainability challenges of AB InBev using our software platform.”
Through the accelerator, KisanHub has been able to roll out its platform to over 1,000 farmers and 10 agronomists in northwest India, home to AB InBev malting barley growing operations. The connectivity provided by KisanHub will help AB InBev’s own agronomy team empower local farmers to improve self-sufficiency, productivity, and environmental performance.
The experience of working together has been valuable for both companies.
“The support on the ground from the AB InBev team was just incredible and it was a satisfying experience to work with such a passionate, motivated, and driven team,” Sachin says. “Our key objective is to help AB InBev achieve their Smart Agriculture goal to make 100% of their farmers skilled, connected, and financially empowered by 2024 — a year before their own timeline of 2025.”
Most people outside the trucking industry probably assume shipping cargo by truck works something like this:
A manufacturer has goods to send across the country. They fill a big-rig with those goods. The big-rig delivers those goods. The end.
The reality is much more complex. What if that manufacturer doesn’t have enough goods to fill that truck? What if that truck can’t find any other goods to fill its space?
Welcome to the world of freight logistics, where keeping operations profitable means filling trucks to capacity and filling trucks to capacity is often a challenge.
Here’s why it’s a problem. Around 90% of all operators have fleets of less than seven trucks. Small operations have less sophisticated systems, which leads to trucks often running with available space that, somewhere, a shipper is eager to fill.
According to estimates, under-filled trucks cost the industry a whopping US$40 billion every year.
Guillermo Garcia, Joaquin Brillembourg, and Miguel Sucre are working to slash those losses. Their company, SmartHop, has developed an AI-powered dispatcher that analyzes and compares thousands of loads in minutes to help carriers plan and book loads that reduce vacant capacities and increase revenue. It’s like a “a futuristic version of Kayak or Expedia for truckers,” Guillermo says.
The idea for SmartHop came from Guillermo’s own struggles searching and booking loads for his nationwide over-the-road trucking operations company. “I understood the struggle independent small carriers go through to make a living. They don’t have the right set of tools to succeed; it’s all done too manually,” says Guillermo.
Besides lost revenues, the other consequence of poorly planned freight capacity is environmental. “Truckers will search manually throughout thousands of brokers, sites, and apps, so it is practically impossible for them to make good decisions,” Guillermo explains. “At the end, their struggle transforms into [wasted space] causing huge environmental damage.”
That angle helped SmartHop land a spot in the inaugural cohort of 100+ Accelerator — a sustainability accelerator by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Highline BETA. 100+ is helping startups accelerate a path to a commercial deal with AB InBev, while providing the international beverage company with leading-edge solutions to help meet its 2025 sustainability goals.
For AB InBev, SmartHop represents an opportunity to shed its company-owned fleet of trucks. Manufacturers don’t always have full loads for their own trucks, leading to wasted space, wasted revenues, and wasted carbon-producing mileage.
By helping AB InBev outsource its loads to independent truckers and small-scale fleet operators looking for freight, SmartHop reduces “the empty miles AB InBev loads run today because of not being able to haul for others,” Guillermo says.
“Incredible” is how he describes the 100+ Accelerator experience. He says the mentorship has been amazing and the opportunity to engage in a pilot with AB InBev has already helped SmartHop attract attention from other large enterprises.
The other perk: sharing insights, goals, and ideas with other sustainability-focused startups.
“Everyone [has] the big dream of impacting the world in a way that the environment and everyone that lives in it is better off — because of our solutions.”
Most entrepreneurs find their golden idea in their own backyard. Verner Cardoso found his idea in his compost bin.
“I was making house composting and two things [caught] my attention during the process,” the Brazilian entrepreneur says. “One is the high temperature, and the second, it was taking too much time to be ready. I started to think about how to improve the time using the temperature of the compost.”
The company’s mission is to “transform waste management into resources management,” where no waste is sent to landfill. The company’s solution: transforming litter into a contaminant-free stabilized biomass that is converted into usable energy.
Turning waste into energy is increasingly being explored as a sustainable way to divert trash from landfills and create a steady, renewable source of power. RSU’s proprietary process for creating biomass is called RBP, or Rotary Bioding Process. It treats waste loads of any size in environmentally-friendly plants that the company claims offer better efficiency than similar technologies at work in Europe and the U.S. Its first pilot plant turned one tonne of waste into biomass daily.
“We have found a way to build the plants that requires low investment,” Verner says. “The financial modeling is unique, as we really transform waste into resources [and] solve a big problem in a smart way.”
When RSU heard about 100+ Accelerator, a sustainability accelerator by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Highline BETA, they saw a fit. AB InBev, a multinational beverage company, had announced sustainability objectives based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals — goals RSU already knew it could address. The company joined the accelerator’s first-ever cohort.
There are two potential applications for RSU’s technology within AB InBev. RSU could construct waste-to-biomass plants, or directly supply biomass for the company’s boilers, which could create a fuel savings of up to 60%.
No matter the outcome, Verner says the accelerator experience has made his company’s future even brighter.
“The mentorship and support are great, the opportunities that are coming, and finally the visibility. If a company like AB InBev believes in our project, certainly others are already looking for us,” Verner says.
Producing a 250-ml glass of beer can require 74 litres of water. Producing a litre of pop can require twice as much water — or more.
That water can’t just be pumped back into the system to be used again. It’s wastewater. When you start to consider just how much wastewater is produced by various industries, the impact becomes dizzying.
Enter Baswood. Founded by Paul Baskis, the company’s BioViper system is a ground-breaking wastewater treatment that helps customers reduce BOD — biological oxygen demand. It cleans the water before it’s either sent back to the municipality or reused at the customer’s plant.
Using little to no chemicals, 60% less energy than other wastewater treatment systems and a 75% smaller physical footprint than competitors, the BioViper removes 90% or more BOD. It also has a remarkably small physical footprint.
As the need for sustainable solutions for cleaner air, land and water grows dire, the potential for systems like BioViper is huge. Here, Jaimi Klein, Baswood’s director of marketing, offers a look at the idea behind the tech, the company’s ties to Hollywood, and the corporate accelerator experience that could help see BioViper used widely.
Finding solutions in nature
When Paul was studying the cultures of bacteria that grow on river rocks and how rivers naturally digest carbon waste streams, he started to wonder whether the natural process could be replicated in a concentrated form that could be used to treat industrial wastewater.
“The technology and the science behind it came from Paul’s studies of riverbeds and the naturally occurring algae blooms and how they move according to where the food sources are,” Jaimi explains. “That led him to the concept and the design of the BioViper, which is an all-organic biological treatment of the wastewater.”
Paul is one of two co-founders behind Baswood. The other founder: actor Woody Harrelson. The two men became aware of one another through a mutual friend.
“We actually have a lot of Hollywood investors. They were brought in by Woody Harrelson and then Ed Norton, who at one point was the chairman of the board for Baswood,” Jaimi says. “Both of them do a lot with environmental investing and they choose environmental initiatives when they go to invest in startups.”
The soda pop factory
In 2013, Baswood established its first full-scale facility at the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group beverage plant in Houston, Texas. The project just passed the five-year mark.
“We’re helping them reach their sustainability goals in cleaning water and community impact. In one of our installations with them, in Ottumwa, Iowa, we were actually able to clean their water so it reduced the impact at the local municipality, which freed up the municipality to treat an additional 7,000 residential homes,” Jaimi says.
“In an industry like wastewater, change is not fast. Acceptance of new technologies like the BioViper is very slow. This five-year mark is a milestone of becoming synonymous with wastewater and treatment.”
Hitting the target
The accelerator is helping selected companies — all of which have a technology-based solution that addresses a pressing global problem — accelerate a path to a commercial deal with the multinational beverage company, while helping AB InBev meet its 2025 sustainability goals.
“AB InBev had been one of our target prospects that we wanted to get in with. We see a lot of similarities between what we were able to accomplish with Dr. Pepper and what we believed we could do with Anheuser-Busch,” Jaimi says. “We thought this was another avenue for us to get access to the people that make capital decisions.”
A unique customer relationship
Baswood currently has a pilot in place with AB InBev at one of its craft breweries in Houston that seeks to achieve similar results as the Dr. Pepper project. “That will be a good launching point for other projects in the future,” Jaimi says.
The accelerator has been rewarding in other ways, too. “We’ve been really impressed by all the AB InBev people. They’re really invested in seeing us succeed,” Jaimi says. “It’s different from a typical customer relationship where they’re questioning a lot of things. But in this case, the customer is invested in our success and getting us implemented with them. That’s been really positive for us to see.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Rodrigo Oliveira was working for his family’s consulting company near São Paulo, Brazil, on waste disposal engineering projects like landfills, when he started feeling a creeping sense of discomfort.
The amount of useful materials and recyclable goods being buried in landfills was staggering. And the only recovery happening was by impoverished people combing the dump sites.
“Unfortunately 75% of Brazilians do not even sort recyclables and [most] municipalities don't have recycling collection,” Rodrigo says.
But then he had an idea. While working on a masters’ degree in sustainability, Rodrigo came across the concept of urban mining — the process of locating and reclaiming useful elements from discarded items to be repurposed.
He started thinking about how the concept could be adapted into a cost-effective recovery solution to reduce the amount of recyclable waste that was winding up in Brazilian landfills. Along with Adriano Leite and Leandro Metropolo, Rodrigo developed a construction waste destination tracking software.
Around the same time, multinational beverage company Anheuser-Busch InBev announced its goal of increasing the amount of recycled glass used in the production of its bottles. Then, along with Highline BETA, AB InBev launched 100+ Accelerator — a sustainability accelerator for startups with leading-edge solutions that can help the company achieve its 2025 sustainability goals.
Rodrigo, Adriano, and Leandro zeroed in on the opportunity to adapt their software and launched Green Mining, their integrated post-consumer packaging recovery system, specifically for the accelerator program. It was a perfect fit: one of AB InBev’s six vertical glass plants around the world is located in Brazil.
Green Mining brings “post-consumer packaging back to the supply chain,” Rodrigo explains. The idea is to divert packaging from landfills to be returned to the manufacturer for reuse or recycling.
The startup’s waste finder software uses sales data to identify hot spots, where a large amount of post-consumer waste — such as beer bottles — is being generated. These are typically areas with a high density of bars and restaurants. Green Mining then installs a collection hub nearby. Collectors pick up the waste and bring it back to the hub, where it’s sorted.
“As the system tracks every movement from the bar to the recycling plant, we are able to [certify] this reverse logistic supported by blockchain technology and with an end-to end compliance,” Rodrigo explains.
For AB InBev, Green Mining’s idea provides a way to achieve circular packaging. For Green Mining, the experience of piloting with AB InBev through the accelerator allowed the trio’s idea to “be taken [off] of the paper and become real.”
The pilot, which included a plan for the installation of 200 Green Mining collection hubs in Brazil, has already been recognized with a congratulatory honour from the city council of São Paulo and a public recognition from a federal congressman. In one 90-day period of collection, 45,000 kilograms of glass waste was diverted from landfill.
“AB InBev opened a window of opportunity for us to prove and execute our statement, our faith, our purpose,” Rodrigo says. “When people wear ‘sustainability glasses,’ it’s possible to see many, many new opportunities of synergies and cost reduction that were [in the shadows] before.
We’ve been able to show that it was possible to introduce sustainable operations in the core business, be affordable, and reduce production costs.”
Publicly traded Anheuser-Busch InBev has expanded its Series A investment in Minnesota-based BanQu, a blockchain startup working to connect members at the earliest stages of global supply chains directly with producers.
These farmers, miners and other workers at the so-called “last mile” of supply chains frequently don’t qualify for bank accounts, meaning they have to rely on otherwise unnecessary middlemen to connect them with the brands, organizations, and governments that turn their raw materials into products on the open market.
By integrating with banks and mobile money providers like MTN and Airtel, BanQu has already helped over 200,000 individuals connect directly with producers, according to a statement, with the goal of serving 100 million people in extreme poverty by 2023.
While the blockchain industry has swayed over the past year to a focus on how blockchain can save giant enterprises money by removing unnecessary middlemen, the investment by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a member of the inaugural ForbesBlockchain 50 list, and best known as the maker of Budweiser, is a return to blockchain’s roots as a way of empowering the unbanked.
“Through this work, we are helping to create a digital ledger of farmers’ transactions that will create an economic identity and enable access to financial services,” said Maisie Devine, a director at AB InBev, in a statement. “This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”
2.7 billion people worldwide do not have access to credit and services by banks or other formal financial institution. They are the unbanked and underbanked.
Most unbanked and underbanked people live in countries with developing economies. Many are living in poverty. It’s often impossible for them to prove their identity, open a bank account, access credit, own property, or even access healthcare. They are cut off from modern financial services and, by extension, the global economy.
In 2014, Ashish Gadnis witnessed these challenges first-hand. While volunteering in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he found himself in the middle of an argument between a local bank representative and a Congolese farmer. Because this farmer was a woman, and because she didn’t have proof of her identity, the representative refused to bank her. But he said he would bank Ashish.
“This lack of financial inclusion keeps people trapped in poverty,” says Ashish, BanQu Co-Founder and CEO.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, BanQu (it’s pronounced BankYou) is an economic-identity technology solution. BanQu’s blockchain-powered secure platform helps provide unbanked people with a verifiable economic identity and transaction history. The company’s goal: create “dignity through identity” and enable a path out of extreme poverty for millions of people.
In the case of unbanked farmers, the BanQu platform can help them verify their land ownership, project their yield, net fair prices for their crops, and track their sales. All this information helps them form a verifiable economic identity, which they can leverage to progress beyond their current financial position. All that farmers need to use BanQu is a basic, SMS-capable cell phone.
In 2018, BanQu joined 100+ Accelerator — a sustainability accelerator by Anheuser-Busch InBev in partnership with Highline BETA. 100+ Accelerator is helping startups like BanQu accelerate a path to a commercial deal with AB InBev. The program’s pilot provides mentorship, training, and funding to speed paths to a pilot with AB InBev for the 21 participating startups.
Through the 100+ Accelerator, BanQu sees the potential to impact the thousands of small scale farmers AB InBev works with directly every year. Many of these farmers lack access to affordable financial products or business infrastructure. This limits their ability to provide an adequate income for their families. BanQu’s platform can offer these farmers a secure digital identity, while also increasing the visibility and traceability of AB InBev’s crop value chain.
The pilot partnership between the two companies focuses on farmers of cassava and barley crops used by AB InBev operations in Zambia and Uganda. The BanQu platform allows AB InBev to track its product through every step of the supply chain, from the small-scale cassava farmer to aggregated buyers to retailers. The record of transactions is etched on the blockchain. This real-time digital ledger offers AB InBev improved oversight, as well as the power to ensure that their supply chain is operating fairly.
“Through our collaboration with BanQu, we want to help small farmers access the financial tools that will enhance and grow their businesses. It is not only our social responsibility to lift up the entrepreneurs and communities that enable us to brew great beer, but it also helps us improve our own operations with better overall demand planning. BanQu is a win-win as it benefits society and our business.”
– Maisie Devine, Global Director AB InBev Sustainability Fund & Accelerator
Ashish says the biggest value for BanQu in participating in the 100+ Accelerator program has been the ability to dive deeper into the value chain when it comes to farmers. The hope is that the partnership will help BanQu accelerate its goal of enabling 100 million people out of extreme poverty by the end of 2023.
“Our goal is to strengthen this partnership across multiple crops and countries setting up a long-term, sustainable and responsible supply chain,” Ashish says. “AB InBev benefits when farmers are skilled, connected and financially literate. It couldn’t have been a better fit.”
The company’s mission is crystal clear: safe water for everyone, everywhere. It sounds lofty, but Spout’s deceptively simple-looking tech is actually a powerful tool for identifying potentially life-threatening water contaminants.
The smartphone-enabled device tests for the presence of lead in water that comes through a home’s taps. That data can then be used not only to improve water quality within the home but also to map water quality across the community and help prevent damage from water quality catastrophes like that in Flint, Michigan.
Since founding Spout in late 2017, Ari’s focus has been on refining the business model and establishing relationships that can help get Spout in homes around the world. To that end, Spout joined the inaugural cohort of 100+ Accelerator — a sustainability accelerator by Anheuser-Busch InBev and Highline BETA.
100+ Accelerator is helping startups like Spout accelerate a path to a commercial deal with AB InBev, while helping AB InBev meet its 2025 sustainability goals:
"Brewing great beer relies on natural ingredients and a thriving community. What could be more essential to that than clean water? We want to empower our consumers with the tools and information they need to ensure that the water coming out of their taps is safe to drink. Spout is making it convenient and low-cost to test water in-home or on-the-go so that our consumers can make better, safer decisions about the water they (and their families) are using every day.”
– Maisie Devine, Global Director AB InBev Sustainability Fund & Accelerator
Here’s Ari on the catalyst for Spout, its life-saving potential, and how 100+ Accelerator has changed his business.
I sold my last company and was looking to d do something radically different from what I had been doing. I was given an opportunity through the 10.10.10 Cities program to look at wicked problems. These are problems that you and I would look at as non- solvable.
Flint, Michigan was a big topic of conversation. How could we stop the wide-spread damage caused by the lead crisis from proliferating like that again? I realized that knowing what comes out of the taps in people’s homes is a key part of that prevention.
I leveraged my technical background to reimagine portable water quality sampling. I asked myself: could we build a device that consumers could use to simply and easily analyze water quality?
That evolved over the course of 10 days into an actionable idea then called the Waterlyzer: a handheld device that would connect to a smartphone and sent to consumers to be used in their homes. The plan was to crowdsource water quality measurements across a whole city – and eventually across the entire country – to build a data map and identify where bad-quality water is, and the failing infrastructure that carries it.
Ten days later, I had a 3-D printed prototype. Two weeks later I launched the company.
There are a lot of commercial-grade, very expensive products – $1000 or $2000 devices made for professional water technologists. Most of these solutions require water samples to be transported to a lab – which means more time and money are needed to get a result.
We built our device to be a faster, more affordable solution to allow consumers to test their water anytime and anywhere. With our device and a smartphone, our users know within minutes if there’s lead on tap in their home.
Spout has a unique model because we help consumers, but also leverage their help to crowd-source data from across communities to help utilities aggregate water quality data. By sharing results, users can help water companies map and isolate potential problems from service lines, and respond more quickly and comprehensively.
We applied to 100+ Accelerator not really understanding the program. When I began to see that it was a path to commercial relationships with AB InBev, I started to realize how the program could completely change our go-to-market strategy.
The 100+ Accelerator program has been exceeding our expectations. Our whole business model has changed because of the accelerator. We’ve even rebranded.
Working with AB InBev, we’ve seen that a new generation of executives is ready to really change the world. To have the opportunity to let my product be part of AB InBev’s sustainability goals is about more than creating a successful venture for the company. It allows Spout to be a part of a game-changing movement – which is every entrepreneur’s dream.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
AB InBev and 100+ were featured as part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Multinational brewer, AB InBev, has launched the 100+ Accelerator programme through which they are collaborating with entrepreneurs to co-create solutions that will help them reach their own sustainability goals, such as their circular packaging target. In parallel, AB InBev are supporting these entrepreneurs in scaling their sustainable innovations, through funding and mentoring.
Do Eat, which produces 100% edible and creative packaging containers, is one of the 21 initial start-ups chosen to participate in the programme. AB InBev will work with each of the start-ups to implement and scale their solutions across the AB InBev business and with their partners.
Majik Water, 100+ Accelerator cohort 1 startup, has been shortlisted contenders for the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa prize.
When Beth Koigi moved into her university dormitory in eastern Kenya, she was horrified that the water coming out of the tap was filthy and laden with bacteria. Within months, she had built her first filter and was soon selling filters to others. When drought hit in 2016 and water restrictions saw Koigi’s water supply turned off entirely, she began thinking about water scarcity and its relation to climate change.
“Going for months without any tap water became a very bad situation,” she says. “Where I used to live, we didn’t get any tap water at all, so even doing simple things like going to the toilet – I would go to the mall instead. Having no water at all is worse than just having unpurified water, so I started thinking about a way to not have to rely on the council.”
A couple months ago, 100+ Accelerator issued 10 challenges to scientists, technologists, and promising entrepreneurs around the world to help drive progress to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our 2025 Sustainability Goals.
We received over 600 submissions from around the globe across all 10 challenges. After a rigorous review, 21 start-ups have been selected to join the first 100+ Accelerator class. Gathering in New York this week, the start-ups will attend a three-day workshop that offers lean start-up training, network advice, and technical expertise. The program is intended to provide the start-ups with the tools, resources and contacts they need to implement & scale these solutions across our businesses & partners.
We spoke to FoodBev media about the launch of 100+ Accelerator, to support, mentor and fund ten successful applicants so they can incubate, experiment and amplify their solutions at scale.
The world’s largest beer company said it wants to mobilise the world’s brightest minds –entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and technologists – to solve global sustainability issues and contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
In a statement, the company said: “We believe that global challenges need local solutions. Because we source, brew and sell locally through our companies around the world, we have a unique insight into issues that are directly impacting communities. And we are positioned to identify opportunities.”
We spoke to Beverage Daily about the launch of 100+ Accelerator, and the program's 10 focus areas.
Beer giant AB InBev today launches its ‘100+ Accelerator’: an accelerator program for start-ups working on the most pressing global sustainability issues. It will select 10 partners in its first round this year; investing $100,000 in each.
Highline BETA, in partnership with the global beer company AB InBev, has announced the launch of the AB InBev 100+ Sustainability Accelerator, a program dedicated to addressing global sustainability issues.
The AB InBev 100+ Sustainability Accelerator will invite academics, entrepreneurs, scientists, and technologists to develop solutions that tackle AB InBev’s sustainability goals related to water stewardship, responsible sourcing, product upcycling, smart agriculture, circular packaging, and climate change.
Highline BETA, which has been working with AB InBev to design and run the accelerator, said it will also provide mentorship, programming, and access to investors and partners to startups accepted in the program. Startups will also have the opportunity to receive follow-on investments from AB InBev and its partners at a Demo Day, and the ability to start a corporate partnership with AB InBev.