It is a new era. A time when people are finally looking beyond sustainability for solutions to the global challenges that we face. For a long time, we dealt with the planet like the proverbial mechanic running a maintenance check on a vehicle in high speed. What is the likely chance of success? You guessed right, none. This new era promises a renewed focus on positive impact, inclusion, abundance and a departure from guilt. More importantly, it promises us a new ecosystem to aspire to — a regenerative economy.
According to the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at Oxford University; a regenerative economy means moving away from extractive business models and unlocking the potential for positive contributions for nature and society. In such a system, profit is no longer the sole motive, instead the sustained wellbeing of all stakeholders is.
In a recent episode of the Disruptors for GOOD podcast, Causeartist contributor Rafael Aldon, had a discussion with Handprint’s co-founder, Simon Schillebeeckx on the convergence of digitization and sustainability. In this conversation, Simon expounded on what Handprint’s mission is and how it is enabling every stakeholder to play their part in the regenerative economy. This blog post is a summary of the brilliant exchange of ideas that took place.
What Handprint does
According to Simon, the word “handprint” is intended to be the opposite of footprint. Just as footprint is a sum of negative impact a person or business causes on the planet, handprint is the sum of all the good done. Therefore, Handprint’s ambition is to be the sustainability infrastructure for the digital world (Web 2 & Web 3) by regenerating the planet at scale.
How Handprint gets companies to contribute to a regenerative economy
Handprint operates with a multi-faceted stakeholder approach. On one end, it acts as a commercial agent for impact partners. This means digitizing their service offerings and operations while translating their work into measurable units of impact. These units of impact can be related to any of the sustainability goals, either environmental or social. From planting a certain number of trees or freeing someone from sexual slavery to planting corals in the marine ecosystem. So, Handprint works with these impact partners and acts as an enabler of funding for their regenerative activities.
On the other end, Handprint engages with companies to facilitate their contributions to its impact partners. This engagement goes beyond the usual corporate fundraising that companies and impact partners are accustomed to. Instead, Handprint’s model involves embedding micro-contributions aka handprints, into the business processes and transactions of corporate organizations. This helps companies communicate to their stakeholders how exactly they are contributing to a positive impact on the planet.
Handprint helps consumers take ownership of impact in a regenerative economy.
For consumers, Handprint helps to serve a different purpose.
Have you ever tried to book a flight and you were told you could pay an extra amount to offset the carbon emitted during the trip? If you have, congratulations, you have just donated money to a mega corporation that may or may not use the donation as intended.
This is why Handprint is different. Handprint helps individuals to take ownership of the impact they personally make. Individuals can hold a verifiable claim to every amount they contribute to impact projects. Handprint is planning to have a mobile app in the future to help users track their personal handprints across multiple platforms. Through this, they can see how their personal decisions and behaviour is making a direct impact on the planet.
Simon envisions a future where handprints are a form of social currency that people are asked about during job interviews, dinner dates or social gatherings. “What is your handprint?” will be the opening line of many conversations!
How and who Handprint partners with
Handprint initially built their model for the ecommerce market however, they soon discovered that their innovation is applicable to every industry. According to Simon, one of earliest successes of Handprint was a partnership with Lazada, one of the biggest ecommerce operators in Asia. Lazada was organizing an online event and wanted to plant a tree for every attendee. Typically, integrating Handprint’s infrastructure on Lazada’s platforms would have needed a lot of design, development and quality control. The better option was for Handprint to build a “one tree per RSVP” API for the event. And this approach worked.
This early success story helped Handprint realize that micro-contributions can be aligned with all transactions and KPIs in any industry. Now, Handprint has clients that are tying measurable units of impact like mangrove tree planting, coral planting, water filter distribution to business performance goals like number of newsletter sign-ups, number of unique website visitors, number of ads clicks etc.
In response to a question about the accountability and transparency of Handprint’s model, Simon explains that they keep a ledger that records every micro-contribution sent. Also, depending on the data agreement between Handprint and the partner, the company can also see in the real-time how much has accumulated for the project it supports. Handprint aggregates all these messages and transactions at the end of every week or month and transmits an invoice to the partner company. This automatically charges the credit card of the partner company or triggers a bank transfer from them.
After collecting the funds from corporate partners, the money is distributed to the impact partners whose projects got financial support. Handprint manages the due diligence process with each impact partner through active supervision of their operations and working with them closely in the field. This differs from the classical partnership between corporate firms and impact partners, where one side sends the funds, and the other side sends an end-of-the-year report that may or may not be accurate. Handprint requires its impact partners to provide real data for every unit of impact that they claim to achieve, through images, videos, updates, tweets etc. All this evidence is related back to the respective corporate partners for each project.
More industries are integrating with Handprint’s technology.
First movers are leaving everyone behind. Players from many industries are launching pilots with us, so they can turn regenerative sustainability into their competitive advantage.
For example, Handprint is currently building prototypes of regenerative credit cards with IDEMIA, a globally trusted bank card provider. Another example is Handprint’s first partnership with a point-of-sale (PoS) technology provider which is set to launch soon. This is the first iteration of Handprint’s infrastructure in the offline world.
Imagine a world where every ad click regenerates the planet. Well, Handprint has done it in a collaboration with Teads. Teads integrated Handprint’s technology on their platform to enable advertisers to donate between 1-10% of their marketing budget to help non-profit organizations spread awareness for respective projects. For example, if an advertiser donates 10% for a $60k campaign, the non-profit organization will receive a total of $12k of free media across Teads’ inventory through the Teads Ad Manager platform.
Handprint is also exploring other practical use cases for infrastructure integration like adding a QR code on the bottles of alcoholic beverages. The customer can scan the code on the alcoholic beverage to see how socially or environmentally impactful their favourite brands are.
Simon believes that the recent human desire to own digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) could be a driving force for the adoption of Handprint’s technology. In his words, “the human desire to own claims to something counts…I don’t own a hundred trees, but I have planted a hundred trees. They are community-owned but I can legitimately claim that the benefits created through those trees were created by me and my financial contribution and that in itself has value.”
Regeneration is here to stay.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that regeneration is here to stay. What is left is your decision to be a part of the regeneration generation. Whatever role you would decide to play in the regenerative economy, either as a business or an individual, Handprint is here to enable you.
We love to share our story and our expertise, so reach out to us if you are looking to interview impact champions!