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Can being good be cool? That was the question that Swiss-based brothers Nashon and Aryeh Memran set out to grapple with in 2015. To answer that question, the brothers—descendants of French agricultural tycoon Jean-Claude—launched To.org, an organization that combines investment, philanthropy, and creativity to support companies that It focused on what the Mimrans described as “vital” issues.
These include areas whose serious impact is difficult to dispute: electric vehicles; Sewage; animal-free food and clothing; reforestation. “The prevailing view in traditional finance was that anyone trying to pursue any goal beyond just financial return would likely not achieve market rate return,” says Arieh, 27, who was Princeton-educated.
“It’s clear today that you can make a lot of money while doing a lot of good. This has led to a fair amount of greenwashing, impact washing, and pure profit-seeking investors using ESG as a finishing touch.
That’s why we’re so careful about the language we use: We only support vital projects, those that are absolutely necessary.” However, the Mimrans felt that simply supporting these kinds of projects—or investing in related charitable projects—wasn’t enough. To.org is about creative communication.
“We realized that communication — making things ambitious, cool, desirable — was something that could allow us to act as a Trojan horse,” says Nashson, 34. “We can bring individuals and interdisciplinary communities together to discuss how to save the world.” This means collaborating with architects, materials scientists, technologists, musicians and designers to highlight specific themes, initiatives and companies.
In one case, To.org sponsored the construction of a public toilet built from thousands of plastic bottles and more than a million plastic bags — the glass brick building — in an impoverished part of Uganda. This did three things simultaneously: getting local informal economy workers involved in the project; Create a free-to-use and accessible toilet in an area with poor sanitation; It generates a lot of buzz.
“It’s a beautiful memorial in a way. It doesn’t look like a toilet,” Nashson says. “We created something that could have digital access through social media — and also physical access: It brought wealthy Ugandans to a slum where few had ever visited before to visit this thing they saw online.” In some cases, the creative input has been limited to rebranding, like when Clara Foods manufacturer of animal-free proteins was rebranded as The EVERY Company.
In other cases, the brothers have unleashed guerrilla marketing abilities, such as the time when Nachson—at the behest of his environmentally conscious daughter—sent Mattel a 3D-printed recycled-plastic figurine titled “Naughty Barbie,” to highlight Barbie’s environmental impact. for the maker. In response, Mattel CEO Richard Dixon called Nachson. “We had an open conversation about what kind of material there was,” Nashson recalls. “We’ve inspired a great deal of change at Mattel.”
Large-scale events or projects — like partnering with EV rally organizer Extreme E, or funding the construction of a music academy near a refugee camp in northern Uganda — are also part of Mimrans’ playbook. Aryeh says the guiding principle for every action they do is an ancient Hebrew saying tikkun olam, or “Reform of the World” (Al-Mimran Yehud), from which the company’s name is derived from its initials. Next? Aryeh has created a new venture capital (to.vc) strategy dedicated solely to climate technology. “The three biggest levers we can bring under the umbrella of climate technology are carbon technology, food technology, and agricultural technology,” he says. “We are running out of time, so we must get down to business. This is what we do.”