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Semilla Nueva Takes On London

“Purchasing pigeonpea from small-holder farmers in Guatemala and selling it internationally to create a market that will increase income for farmers and make Semilla Nueva financially stable”, that is Curt Bowen’s vision.

 Three weeks ago, Curt Bowen, Executive Director of Semilla Nueva, spent 5 days in London at the Unilever Sustainable Entrepreneur Awards to represent his vision for Semilla Nueva as one of the seven finalists chosen from over five hundred applicants. Curt spent the week preparing for a 5-minute pitch and a 15-minute question and answer session in front of a panel of 6 judges including leaders from MIT, Unilever, Ashoka, World Bank and top professionals in the field.

While he did not take the Golden Crown, Curt walked away with a tool kit filled with feedback, and 10,000 Euros. “The connections and mentoring were worth far more than the money. I am really excited about the partnerships that are forming due to this competition.” Curt attended presentations on business development and interactive critical thinking sessions with professors from Cambridge University. He was able to dine in Buckingham Palace with John Elkington, the man who coined the term sustainability and has been a spearhead in the development field, and Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever. Mr. Albinsaid, the winner, is the Founder of the Indonesian social enterprise Garbage Clinical Insurance, an innovative project which helps the poorest communities gain access to health services through the collection and recycling of rubbish.

Apart from the competition itself, what inspired Curt most was to see the culture Unilever is forming. He was able to spend one-on-one time with Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and hear the culture he is trying to build with his motto, “We know we can’t do this alone.”As one of the largest organizations in the world, Unilever is using its immense power to focus on sustainable supply chains. “Everybody has a part to play, it is really inspiring that global companies are working with small scale organizations to create big change,” says Curt.

After an eventful week, Curt has returned to Guatemala and has a lot to look forward to with Semilla Nueva. With encouraging words from the judges Semilla Nueva is rejuvenated and ready to continue achieving our vision, one farmer at a time.

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