HomeFundingCarble: The startup that’s just secured new funding to reward deforestation-free farming

Carble: The startup that’s just secured new funding to reward deforestation-free farming

Dutch climate startup Carble is aiming to tackle climate change with a new approach – carbon insetting. The startup has just received new funding to fuel its plans, and we took an inside look. 

The world’s rainforests are at a tipping point. Mass deforestation across the world has meant that we are losing these ecosystems that are critical to life on earth – and action needs to be taken as soon as possible. Deforestation is happening for a number of reasons and stopping it doesn’t have one simple solution. 

Deforestation, which refers to any decrease in the tree cover of an area, is occurring in many regions as a  result of unsustainable agricultural strategies – and exacerbated by poor financial circumstances. Many farmers are pushed to harmful agricultural strategies as a result of economic uncertainty and hardship. More needs to be done to empower more sustainable agricultural workers to farm in a sustainable way and to be empowered with the financial tools to do so. 

Fintech startup Carble has developed a new approach to tackling this –  a method described as carbon insetting and one that aims to help the world avoid 1000 megatons of CO2 emissions by 2035, equivalent to the emissions caused by the whole aviation industry in 2020. 

The deforestation problem

Deforestation can be a planned action, such as the massive soy plantations in the Amazon rainforest, but can also be seen as a slow decline in tree cover over longer periods, often seen in the case of smallholder farmers of tropical commodities like coffee and cocoa. As commented by the Carble team, these commodities are traditionally grown in an environmentally sustainable way in the shade of the forest. Since this environmentally sustainable way of farming is economically often not viable, farmers are driven to more intensified industrial farming or switch to cattle grazing, which both result in cutting down the forest.

According to Carble, this type of tropical deforestation typically makes up at least two-thirds of the carbon footprint of a bag of coffee, and the annual emissions from tropical deforestation are more than five times as high as that of the global airline industry. 

“Deforestation-free farming needs to be the new norm in tropical supply chains. We simply cannot offset our way out of climate change.” 

Carble’s approach

Now, Carble, founded in 2021 in Noordwijk in the Netherlands by three founders Sander Reuderink, Noura Hanna and Lodewijk van der Meer, has just received new funding. The details:

  • €300k seed funding
  • Funding led by Antler, the global early-stage VC
  • Included angel investors and grants from the German government’s GIZ Coffee Innovation Fund and the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre
  • The investment will be used to launch the first version of the product to market.

As the damage of deforestation has been exposed, brands are facing more pressure to reduce carbon emissions and end this practice. While monitoring deforestation through earth-observation satellites has been available for a number of years, there is still a major lack of technological solutions that help change the underlying economics that drives deforestation, and makes deforestation-free farming economically the most attractive choice for farmers, like Carble. 

Carbon insetting

Carble is fighting climate change by financially compensating farmers for preventing deforestation. These payments go directly to the farmers and are made by tropical commodity buyers like coffee and cocoa brands. Carble acts as the middleman, moderating and overseeing the process by providing precise data about which farmers are performing deforestation-free agriculture.

Sander Reuderink, co-founder and CEO of Carble: “Eight of the ten largest coffee brands and all major cocoa brands have announced their goals to significantly reduce their negative impact on the climate. Yet there are no solutions that effectively reduce deforestation and address poverty amongst farmers – two of the largest sustainability challenges that these brands face.”

Carble’s proprietary software platform ingests satellite data containing information on carbon storage in agroforestry farms, then uses a machine learning algorithm to process this data, and finally present the data to brands in an actionable format so they can reward deforestation-free farming at scale. 

This approach is attractive in that it helps brands to decarbonize their own supply chain, rather than offsetting their carbon footprint through offsetting projects that do not change anything in the brands’ internal operations. Furthermore, it directly contributes to reducing poverty in tropical commodity farmers, thereby giving brands double the social and environmental impact per dollar.

Sander added: “With the Carble platform we aim to avoid 1000 megatons of CO2 emissions, protect 1 million hectares of tropical forest and generate 1 billion euros of additional income for 1 million tropical commodity farmers by 2035.”

Climate action taking root

Carble’s innovative approach comes as, across the world, leaders begin to step up action on deforestation. The recent election of Lula in Brazil has seen the proposal of an Opec for rainforests established between Brazil, Indonesia and the DRC, meanwhile while Colombia has proposed creating an Amazon bloc at Cop27, and Norway’s environment minister is moving to reinstate a billion-dollar fund to protect the rainforest. 

Tropical forest loss is the main driver of the high carbon footprint of tropical commodities like coffee, cocoa, tea and rubber. If tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank right behind China and the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.  It means that ending tropical deforestation is one of the most impactful interventions that we have today to reduce climate change. It’s something we need to investigate fully and do what we can to support and advocate. 

Carble’s solution is an interesting approach to preventing deforestation, it makes sense for brands and also empowers agricultural workers with the support and means they need to be more sustainable. 

What makes Carble special? 

While there is a lack of solutions out there to help make sustainable farming the attractive choice, Carble actively gives incentives directly to the farmers that can protect the forests – and is completely scalable. 

Sander explained: “In many coffee and cocoa-producing countries, mobile payments (the sending of money through simple cell phones) have been launched as a means of making financial services available for “unbanked” or “underbanked” communities. Although mobile banking has not seen widespread use in Ethiopia (the first geography where Carble is active) integrating with mobile payments solutions is on our roadmap for other regions going forward.”

Youri Doeleman, a Partner at Antler: “At Antler we work with exceptional founders from day zero to create startups with significant growth potential. The Carble team brings together a truly unique set of backgrounds and skills to the problem they are solving. They have everything from brand and the farmer’s livelihood to the technology side. The team has impressed us with their high ambitions and execution focus and we are excited about the impact they will have in addressing climate change across the tropical commodity industry.”

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.
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