Pollinate won the 2016 Ethical Enterprise Award for their work in India.

Pollinate won the 2016 Ethical Enterprise Award for their work in India.

At Moral Fairground, our dream is to make the world a fairer and more transparent place by promoting sustainable and fair-trade business practises.

As part of our strategy to achieve this goal, we host the annual Ethical Enterprise Awards, which recognise a business or organisation that is making a positive impact in a local or overseas community.

Each year it is immensely rewarding to see what the winner does with the $10,000 prize money they receive from our sponsor Australian Ethical Investment.

A wonderful example is last year’s winner Pollinate Energy, which is taking life-changing products such as solar lights to people living in the slums of Indian cities.

Pollinate’s model is to train local men and women from the slums to sell the products to other families in these communities. The fantastic by-product of this method of distribution is that these local men and women, known as “pollinators”, who in most cases previously had no income or education, are helped to establish their own small businesses.

Around the time of the awards last year, Pollinate was expanding into its fourth city in India – Lucknow, in the country’s north.

They used the prize money from the award to buy hundreds of products that would be warehoused and then sold on by the pollinators to local families on payment plans, with the pollinators taking a commission on the sale.

The main product is the solar light which replaces toxic and ineffective kerosene candles. It has huge health implications because the burning of the kerosene candles in the tent structures that make up the city slums leads to families inhaling significant amounts of toxic smoke. The families pay off the lights in about five weeks using the money they would otherwise spend on kerosene candles. After the payment period, they can use the money they would otherwise be spending on kerosene candles for a more productive purpose such as better food, or education for their kids.

The pollinators also distribute a suite of other products in Lucknow including solar fans, mosquito nets and mobile phones. The funding has also allowed Pollinate to trial energy-efficient cook-stoves in Lucknow. The stoves reduce the amount of toxic smoke people inhale when they cook meals in their tents.

With this funding support in Lucknow, Pollinate were able to get to their fifth Indian city much quicker than if they had to go it alone. Using Lucknow as a staging post, they’ve recently launched into Kanpur, around 95 kilometres down the road, which essentially means they are going to reach thousands more people a lot quicker this year.

Pollinate’s goal is to be in 20 Indian cities by 2020 and we are pleased to help them get a little bit closer to that target. Eventually their model will become self-sustaining, and they won’t need help from the Ethical Enterprise Awards or any charitable support.

Meanwhile, it’s wonderful that Pollinate has been able to use the funds from the award to purchase products that help people improve the way they live and their health and safety.

Left to right: Australian Ethical Managing Director Phil Vernon, Pollinate Energy General Manager Anna McGregor with volunteers Amanda Antoinette, Felicity Jacob and Ling McDonald.

L-R: Australian Ethical Managing Director Phil Vernon, Pollinate Energy General Manager Anna McGregor with volunteers Amanda Antoinette, Felicity Jacob and Ling McDonald.

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Ethical Enterprise Awards and we look forward to seeing how other organisations would use the prize money.

The award is open to purpose-driven businesses with an Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian organisations over 18 months old that deliver innovative work with a positive social, environmental or economic impact either locally or internationally.

Australian Ethical Investment, a leading ethical wealth manager, has sponsored the awards since their inception, in line with its strong belief in building and supporting ethical enterprises to continue their work and improve the world we live in.

As well as having a shot at the prize money, finalists will have access to media, publicity and business development opportunities. This year, prizes include $7,000 for the runner-up. The third prize winner will receive $6,000 of professional business coaching.

Nominations are also open for our Early Ethical Entrepreneurs Pitch Competition, which is open to start-up businesses that have the potential to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions of an overseas or local community.

Short-listed applicants for the Pitch Competition will have the opportunity to present their idea to four business and social entrepreneurial leaders at the Ethical Enterprise Conference on 16-17 October, a terrific profile-raising experience.

Winners will have access to the expertise of outstanding mentors like Australian Ethical Managing Director Phil Vernon to help guide them through the nuances of establishing and growing their business.

Submissions for the Ethical Enterprise Award and the Pitch Competition are open until 1 September.

As we’ve seen with the Pollinate example, the awards can help organisations make a big difference. We’re looking forward to hearing how other organisations could use the prize money to advance their cause and make the world a better place.

Susanna Bevilacqua

Susanna Bevilacqua is the Director of Moral Fairground.

Any readers looking to enter the awards can access submission forms here