'Fighting This Crisis Is Of The Utmost Importance - That’s Why We Partnered With The #TOGETHER FUND'
Nachson Mimran (pictured, left) co-founded To.org - which invests in young companies that have the potential to heal the world - when he was just 25. We caught up with him to find out how it all began, and why he is supporting the #TOGETHER FUND.
You started To.org with your brother Arieh (pictured, right) after a life-changing family tragedy - can you tell us about that?
To.org began in 2013, on the day our mother passed away. I was 25 and Arieh was 18. Needless to say, it was completely life changing for us; our mother was our inspiration. The new understanding of mortality inspired by her passing instilled in us a sense of urgency we hadn’t previously felt. We wanted to identify how we could be of service to people and planet and, while it was a very difficult time for us both, in hindsight, were it not for our mother’s departure, To.org would not exist.
How did To.org rise up out of that?
We began laying the foundations for To.org in November 2014, when Arieh and I started investing in young companies we thought could heal the world. We both were passionate about using our skills and knowledge to make a difference but it takes time to turn an idea into a reality.It took us about two years to understand how much we had to offer, and from there To.org was created with the intention of accelerating Earth’s most vital ventures, of facilitating permanent change, not just in the short term.
Tell us about some of the companies you have invested in
L., for example, makes organic and chemical free tampons and pads, as well as low-protein organic latex condoms. For every item sold they give one to someone who needs it, helping to overcome the challenges of period poverty and unplanned pregnancy, empowering women and girls with a sustainable and organic product line.
BOTTLETOP was another of our earliest portfolio companies, thanks to a chance meeting with Cameron Saul in London. Cameron launched BOTTLETOP with a desire to change the fashion world’s model of sustainability and social conscience. BOTTLETOP uses zero-deforestation leather from the Amazon region, producing accessories that are made by a mostly female team of artisans at an atelier in Salvador in Brazil. They support the community with an extensive training program and by providing skilled jobs that pay well, they also use their profits to fund the BOTTLETOP Foundation which raises awareness around issues facing young people.
We also invested in mPharma, which provides solutions to flaws in the pharmaceutical supply chain across Africa. When you have a broken supply chain it pushes up consumer prices, but mPharma’s technology eliminates supply chain inefficiencies and establishes more balanced pricing so medicine is accessible and affordable. Greg Rockson, mPharma’s co-founder & CEO, was awarded the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship last year, and he epitomises the type of founder we enjoy the most – people who work tirelessly to solve problems for others, and who in the process receive the recognition and rewards their work deserves.
How do you go about finding the projects to support through To.org?
Our projects come to To.org in lots of different ways. From individuals in our network, our team, community groups, and others who think we might be interested in a company or a project. One thing I always say is good ideas are as likely to come from the heart of an African village as they are from a major Western city.
Do you have specific areas of interest? (And are they different from each other’s?)
We are both committed to the African continent. I focus more on the creative side at To.org and I spend a lot of time working closely with our Creative Activists on the ground, and Arieh devotes the majority of his time to working with our portfolio companies.
Arieh and I are pretty hands-on and we want to be as involved as we possibly can with all of our projects, but sometimes that can’t be the case. We are really lucky to have a strong team and network of Creative Activists that we trust to make things happen on the ground.
Do you have any new exciting projects coming up?
There are three main areas of focus at To.org - Ventures, Create and Foundation, and we will have multiple live projects across each of those verticals at any one time. Whether that is a philanthropic project like #TOGETHER FUND, an innovative African e-commerce platform like Sokowatch, or a fashion project with the guys from Vollebak.
You were instrumental in initially setting up the #TOGETHERBAND campaign - why did promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals appeal to you?
I first met Cameron, the founder of BOTTLETOP, in London in 2014. We had a lot of similar views and his striking commitment to the pursuit of positive change was the perfect fit for To.org. From there we invested in BOTTLETOP under the Ventures arm of To.org and later became involved in the creation of #TOGETHERBAND.Promoting the SDGs appealed to us because they represent a unified promise from world leaders to fix the world’s greatest challenges. The SDGs are fundamental to everything we stand for as a company and as human beings. They have universal appeal, everyone can get behind at least one of the goals, and they make sense to us all -- from the oldest to the youngest among us, including my 7 year old daughter who is a huge fan of the #TOGETHERBAND campaign.
Why do you think the #TOGETHER FUND is so important?
The world is currently experiencing the most extreme health crisis. It’s truly unprecedented, devastating to our communities, families, healthcare systems, livelihoods and national resources.Right now we are being told to ‘stay home’, not only for our own safety but for the safety and health of our fellow humans. But so many people around the world don’t have that luxury. For example, the 70 million refugees and displaced people around the world for whom Covid-19 will be catastrophic. Fighting this health crisis is of the utmost importance, and that’s why we decided to partner with the #TOGETHER FUND.
Finally, where are you right now, and how are you coping with social distancing?
I am lucky enough to be safe at my home in Gstaad with my family. This is a testing time for everyone, and those of us who have safe homes where we can ride this out should be thankful for the privilege. We also have a team of Creative Activists on the ground at Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda, home to 100,000 refugees, where we are activating training initiatives and public health messaging campaigns. We are also working with local entrepreneurs in Nakivale, producing and distributing critical supplies to empower and protect the most vulnerable. So, yes, we are hard at work doing what we can to contribute and encouraging everyone to join us in this mission.
Right now it’s important that we act fast - together.We need your help to raise vital funds to support the COVID-19 response.
We have set up the #TOGETHER FUND with the BOTTLETOP FOUNDATION to raise money to ensure patients can access the care they need, as well as supporting disease prevention and frontline health workers across the globe.
The #TOGETHER FUND is administered by the BOTTLETOP FOUNDATION who will distribute funds in the following way:
50% of the funds we raise will go to COVID-19 Response Funds; split equally between UN COVID-19 Solidarity Fund for WHO and Médecins sans Frontières.
50% of the funds will go to the life-changing programmes addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that are critical to our planet’s future.