‘Planet, environment and people are the centre’

Lüderitz-based company Kelp Blue, a cultivator of giant kelp, says it is developing a business model that has the planet, the environment and people at its centre.

Kelp Blue, the Namibian subsidiary of the Dutch company Kelp Blue, has been awarded the Zayed Sustainability Prize in the climate action category during the recently held 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, in recognition of its large-scale climate efforts in growing giant kelp forests to enhance ocean health and sequester carbon.

Kelp Blue last month became recipients of the Namibia Premier Business Sustainability Award for its Stimplus+ biostimulant which boosts crop productivity and resilience, crafted from 100% giant kelp.

The company’s chief executive, Daniel Hooft, received the award of entrepreneur of the year.

He says the company attributes its wins to its business model, which is based on measuring actions in terms of whether they are a source of inspiration, whether they support biodiversity and a healthy planet, and whether they have an outsized social impact through the number of quality jobs they create.

Furthermore, he says the company aims to be adaptable and financially future proof by earning an income through the products it sells, starting with the biostimulant for farmers.

“It’s an enormous recognition of the work we as a motivated and enthusiastic team have started and will continue to develop at Lüderitz. Cultivating kelp at scale is enormously beneficial to the marine environment, because it provides shelter for many marine species and has the potential to sequester enormous amounts of carbon.

“Not only that, the product we make from the kelp (a liquid seaweed extract) can be used by farmers to increase their crop yield and improve soil health completely naturally. We’re restoring health to the oceans as well as the land,” Hooft says.

The Zayed Sustainability Prize, initiated by the United Arab Emirates in 2008, recognises impactful sustainable solutions in health, food, energy, water, climate action and global high schools, honouring the legacy of sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

It has celebrated 106 winners, positively impacting over 378 million lives worldwide in 15 years.

After receiving the sustainability award, which comes with prize money valued at US$1million, the company announced more investments by issuing blue bonds.

“It’s essentially a new financing mechanism that allows us to further expand our farming operations at Lüderitz. What’s unique about these bonds is that 2,5% of the amount raised will go towards ocean monitoring and ocean education, making them a first of their kind,” the chief executive says.

Ezra Hildering van Lith, the general manager of Kelp Blue at Lüderitz, says five years from now the company seeks to have 300 hectares of kelp forests flourishing off the coast of Lüderitz.

“Through that development we will have helped thousands of farmers increase their crop yield and restore health back to the soil.

“This would enable us to have created hundreds of direct jobs and even more indirect jobs for the community, region and country.

“We are also working towards seeing marine life flourishing and having a stronger, more resilient coastal ecosystem,” she says.

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