Better Globe Forestry

Advent Calendar – December 23, 2019

Advent Calendar – December 23, 2019

December 23, 2019
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Mukau.
It’s a beautiful tree.
This plot of mukau at the Nyongoro plantation reminds me of Swedish birch forests.

I’ve never really been one to dig deep into specific facts on trees, but I do have a thing for them. Have for a long time. As a funny aside, I’ve been married, twice. First marriage gave me the surname Skog, which is Swedish for forest. Second marriage had me go deeper, as Roth (in Swedish) is pronounced as the Swedish word for root. Perhaps my fondness for trees is yet one more reason why I’ve fallen so hard for this way to use my savings in this win-win-win-scheme?

Going on the customer trip in June, I certainly learned a lot more about the Mukau, or Melia volkensii as it’s named in Latin. It’s a hardwood tree, in the same family as mahogany. It’s native to these parts of Kenya. It was at risk of disappearing, due to over-exploitation on account of its durability and excellent qualities, but is now on the rise, rapidly. Better Globe Forestry’s tree expert Jan Vandenabeele plays a part in that, which you can see in the acknowledgments of the Kenya Forest Service Guideline to On-Farm Melia volkensii, Growing in the Dryland Areas of Kenya

As a hardwood, it warrants a higher price on the raw material market than many other types of timber, but Better Globe Forestry does not intend to sell the wood as raw material. Rather, they are looking at setting up a sawmill, to ensure the refinement of the wood stays local. Given the richness of the African continent when it comes to natural resources, it’s a continent that should be wealthy. But it’s just this fact, that raw materials are removed rather than refined on-site, which has enriched so many other countries outside of Africa, especially those who’ve previously had colonies. Keeping the value-adding-chain in the country will lead to more job opportunities. And in a country of high unemployment, that’s a definitive plus!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 20, 2019

December 20, 2019
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This is me.
My hands.
Planting a (ceremonial) tree at the Nyongoro plantation, with the help of one of the workers, an older gentleman in overalls.

It’s one of my favorite photos from the journey, one I have as the locked-screen-wallpaper on my iPhone, ever since I got back at the beginning of July. Whenever I grab a hold of my phone – which, truth be told, and likely to no surprise, is something I do quite often – I am reminded of how impactful my visit to Kenya was, and still is, for me. New perspectives, the reality of other people, bearing witness to everyday struggles that I have never encountered living in Sweden, and not least, a chance to meet the people behind the company whose vision I wholeheartedly support: To eradicate poverty and corruption in Africa.

One way to help eradicate poverty is to help farmers keep their soil viable. At 21 degrees Celcius, the soil is 100% viable. At 40 degrees C, only 15% of the soil functionality remains. At 60 degrees… it’s 100% dead. There is no life in the soil then, all microbes have died off. Unfortunately, 40-60 degrees of soil temperatures are far from uncommon in Africa.

Planting trees, not only helps protect the soil from erosion thanks to the root systems of the trees, but the canopy of them literally works like sun umbrellas, protecting the soil from heating to those lethal temperatures from the unrelenting sun. This is one reason why it’s such an improvement of farmers’ situations when they contract with Better Globe Forestry to become partner farmers and plant trees on the very same land that they already – and continuously – plant cash crops on. The lowered temperatures mean that soil of partial viability within a few years bounce back and thrive, giving higher returns on their cash crops. Smart huh?

Through the donation packages I purchase monthly, I ensure that partner farmers not only get to tend my trees which, as you understand from the reasoning above, is of benefit for them, they actually receive a tree for themselves for each tree of mine. If you want to start your own monthly contribution to this fantastic and life-changing work, start a monthly subscription. And if you need help, reach out!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 16, 2019

December 16, 2019
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I admit.

I went to Kenya fairly certain I would be able to find stuff that I would do differently or knew just the right way to improve on, or that I had “the answer” to.

Prejudice. I admit.
I was. I am.

On item after item, I was proven wrong in my assumptions.
I thought I’d know better… and yet, here I was, over and over again, being proven wrong as well as impressed by what I saw.

Like the Suggestions-box on the office wall. I took the photo at the Nyongoro plantation, but I saw the same type of box at the Kiambere plantation as well as at the head office in Nairobi.

You see, two of the founders of Better Globe have spent a good deal of time helping companies in Kenya and Uganda achieve ISO 9000-standard. ISO 9000 is the family of quality management standards of the International Organization for Standardization and as such is a globally recognized standard. Working many years in the pharmaceutical industry, I’ve come across the standard many a times, and have even given two-day trainings in Quality Management Systems with a focus on ISO 9001.

Better Globe Forestry (BGF) operates according to all the best practices (and a few next ones at that!) of the quality standard – and the suggestion boxes were but one of the most visible clues around – without actually being certified, because knowing the standard as well as they do, the management of BGF also knows there’s no real point to them being certified. And that actually impresses me even more! This is what quality should be about – doing the best you can, while operating under a continuous improvement cycle, regardless of whether you happen to be certified or not. There are companies out there who have chosen to become certified, for the certification, rather than because they want to run and operate the best company they can. But not BGF, they go the other way. They use the standard, for the quality aspects of it, because they do want to run and operate the best company they can.

What I saw throughout the trip impressed me. Greatly.

And not just me, even though my fellow travel companions – CEOs, CFOs, marketing directors, investors, high-level coaches, management consultants, and I don’t know all. Many years of experience that’s for sure! – aren’t the ones writing this blog. I am. But I promise, we were a l l, unanimously, very impressed with what we saw.

So yeah. Rightly so, I was stripped of my prejudices, and I am frigging glad I was!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 12, 2019

December 12, 2019
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At the Nyongoro-plantation the operation is mechanized compared to the way things are done in Kiambere. One reason is the fact that the area is sparsely populated, which means Better Globe Forestry has a hard time to find enough workers.

Still, it would be hard to mechanize operations such as land clearing, pitting (that is, drilling holes for the seedlings), weed control and watering if the lands were rocky and/or very muddy.  Luckily, it isn’t. The soil conditions are just right for mechanization!

This bulldozer is part of the fleet of heavy equipment at Nyongoro, consisting of three bulldozers and eight tractors. There is still a need for manual labor though, especially for planting, pruning, seedling production, and security. The trees at the plantation are planted with just the right distance so the bulldozer can manage weed control in an efficient way, and the tractors can supply the seedlings with water (only necessary for the first year, after that the young trees can manage on their own).

There is a story about this bulldozer, one I would love to share with you, but it’s better suited for verbal than written storytelling. If you wanna hear it, reach out and I’ll set up a Zoom-call with you, ok? Curious?



Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 10, 2019

December 10, 2019
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It rained!
For half an hour during my nine days in Kenya, it rained just when we visited the trees on the plantation in Nyongoro.
We were on the clock at that, as the local chief who came along for the trip there to guaranteed our safety has us on a tight schedule. Driving through four police checks to reach the plantation, he wanted us to be out again past the first roadblock we drove through within three hours, so when we got to the trees, we were told to get off the bus, take whatever pictures we wanted, not stray out of sight, and be back on the bus whenever the chief called for us.

Nyongoro is south of Kiambere, but most importantly, it’s a lot closer to the coast, hence the climate is more humid. So the plantation here was more rainforest-like than that in Kiambere which was much drier with a lot of felled leaves during our visit (remember, June on the Southern hemisphere means winter-time!). The most apparent difference was in the baobab-trees which still had all their leaves here in Nyongoro.

The plantation lie in a sparsely populated area, and Better Globe Forestry is the biggest employer of the area, with 60-120 workers, depending on the season. These are two of the workers on the plantation, eager to come into work a few extra hours for our visit on a Sunday. Normally, they work 5,5 days a week, 7:30-16:30 or so Monday-Fridays and half days on Saturdays. Better Globe Forestry Ltd. aims at ensuring better working conditions for their workers than what is custom in the areas where they are operating. The Kenyan day workers of Better Globe Forestry are paid 400 KSH (around €4) a day, which is twice the minimum wage of Kenya. Interestingly, this is more than state employees receive – as they get approximately 250 KSH.

This is another reason why I put my savings into trees. As the Chinese proverb reads:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

My monthly purchases of trees and donation packages ensure BGF can plant trees around the year (regardless of dry or rainy seasons) and provide much-needed job opportunities in poor areas. Your savings can do the same: what better time to buy a tree, than now?


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 8, 2019

December 8, 2019
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Worker of Better Globe Forestry at the nursery in Nyongoro, which has a capacity of half a million mukau-seedlings a year.

During my visit to Kenya in June 2019, I got to visit two Better Globe Forestry plantations, in Kiambere and in Nyongoro. The latter one has not had a lot of visitors since 2015, on account of being a bit too close to the Somalian border to be deemed safe. A few months prior to our visit, Torgny, a Swedish customer of Better Globe, went there on his own and wrote a really interesting chronicle describing his experience. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs still advises against traveling there, but luckily the customer trip of 2019 had this visit planned, with necessary safety precautions taken. And I must say, I am very grateful I got to visit this plantation as well.

The staff at Nyongoro were more curious about us visitors than the staff at Kiambere, which makes perfect sense. The Kiambere plantation is closer to Nairobi, started earlier (in 2006 as compared to 2012 for Nyongoro) and hence is a good place to bring visitors. This worker reminded me of the Aracuan Bird in the Donald Duck film Clown of the jungle. He was everywhere, wanting to be in all the photos, offering to pose for us, both here and there, which made for a lot of laughs!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 5, 2019

December 5, 2019
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One of the female workers at the Kiambere plantation, here in the inner sanctum of the nursery. Underneath the plastic sheets are teeny tiny mukau seedlings, which this nursery can produce 1 200 000 every year. That’s a heck of a lot of trees, and yet, it’s a far cry from what the company aims at. The vision of Better Globe Forestry is to eradicate poverty and corruption in Africa, and this will be accomplished through the mission, which reads: Through “social entrepreneurship” plant as many trees as there are people on the planet and thereby finance a successful implementation of the Vision. To accomplish this the company aim at planting a million trees a day!

This will make a huge difference in many ways, not in the least when it comes to providing job opportunities for people. Kenya has an unemployment -level of somewhere between 10-40% – I have not been able to find any definitive numbers, but it’s definitely a lack of job opportunities. By empowering people (for instance by providing them with a job) they can lift themselves from poverty. The Gapminder Foundation illustrative Dollar Street is a very visual way to see what happens when people do that. What seems to work better than anything else to raise entire families and communities from poverty is to empower women. This is one of the reasons why Better Globe Forestry has a large percentage of women workers.

I’ve just finished reading Melinda Gates’s book The moment of Lift and it’s filled with great examples of just this. In the introductory chapter, she writes: How can we summon a moment of lift for human beings–and especially for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity. And how can we create a moment of lift in human hearts so that we all want to lift up women? Because sometimes all that’s needed to lift women up if to stop pulling them down.


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Advent Calendar – December 4, 2019

December 4, 2019
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Every month I buy a donation package or rather, I buy a donation package for each of the savings accounts I administer (i.e. my personal one, my company’s accounts, and the accounts of my two children). The donation package consists of two trees for me (more on that later!), two that are donated (to partner farmers or schools for instance) as well as a €1,5 each for water and school projects as well as a first contribution to start micro-credit banks.

What you see in the picture is a 10 000 liter water tank on the grounds of the Kaewa Secondary School (next door to the Utithini Primary School), winner of the Green Initiative Challenge (GIC; a joint collaboration of Better Globe Forestry, KenGen – the largest Kenyan electric power generating company – and Bamburi Cement Ltd.) in 2018. During my trip to Kenya in June of 2019, we visited this school, and it was without a doubt the greenest schoolyard I’ve ever seen!

The school has 465 pupils and around 160-170 of them are boarding at the school as well. So water is a necessity and water tanks such as this one (along with the gutters along the roof, to help collect rain during the monsoon), granted to the school as a part of the GIC, help make it possible for pupils to attend school.

This is part of what my donation package enables. Month after month. That makes me very keen to continue to buy donation packages on a monthly basis. Because I know the difference it makes!


Advent Calendar for 2019: sharing pictures and stories/reflections from my trip to Kenya in June. I went to visit “my trees” and get a hands-on experience of the social entrepreneurship of the Kenyan forestry company that I buy trees through.

Full disclosure: I am proud to say I am both a customer and an ambassador for the company. If you are curious to find out more, let me know and I’ll gladly get in touch with you! Here’s my sponsored link: https://betterglobe.com/27216 

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Banker to the poor (book 6 of 12)

July 2, 2019
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in Tip
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Sitting at the airport in Nairobi, having just finished reading Banker to the poor by Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize winner in 2006. I selected this book very deliberately as I knew I would be visiting a microfinance bank in Kenya, during my trip to Kenya. I’ve done lots more while in Kenya (visiting tree plantations, partner farmers, the microfinance bank, the headquarters of Better Globe Forestry, as well as doing 24 hours of safari and a short stint at the silver beach of Malindi by the Indian Ocean) but having this book to accompany the visit of the Nguni/Mbuvu financial service association made for an enriched experience. The Better Globe Forestry-funded FSA in Nguni is called a village bank, where ”the locals obtain microfinance loans to improve their living standards and to better their economy”.

In conversation with Godemas Motemje, chairman of the Nguni/Mbuvu FSA and  Isabelle Saternus.

”Each person has tremendous potential. She or he alone can influence the lives of others within the communities, nations, within and beyond her or his own time.
Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us.”

The book was first published in 1998 and a lot has happened since, Yunus himself being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for instance, but even more so, the continued spread of the concept of microfinance loans/banks has truly made a huge difference to the lives of many people across the globe.

Reading Banker to the poor makes me appreciate Yunus himself. He saw something, acted upon it, took notice of the results and their long-term effect, took it to another level – system-wide as well as conceptually – and doggedly kept at it. Did not leave it be, this newfound understanding of his, of the importance of credit. Especially to the poor. Or as he phrases it, to the poorest of the poor even, those without any chance of ever receiving a ”normal loan” from ”a normal bank” as they have absolutely nothing to put in as collateral.

”I also learned that things are never as complicated as we imagine them to be. It is only our arrogance which seeks to find complicated answers to simple problems.”

There’s a phrase I appreciate. Yes lives in the land of No. And boy, did Yunus ever receive his fair number of No’s, that’s for sure. It takes something special to keep on going, upon receiving No upon No upon No. And he did. So I figure, he must have known that Yes lives right there! Because it did. He did get the necessary amount of Yes:es. It took a while, but actually, the impact of Grameen bank (which is what Yunus micro-finance operations was named. Grumman means village.) has been huge. Much bigger than he started off thinking, I would presume. He did not stop when given excuse upon excuse why what he was proposing simply could not be done. It was ”too simple” in the eyes of many. But he – and those he managed to enroll in his vision – kept at it, kept believing and working for keeping it simple.

Is this ”the answer to all that ails the world”? No. But it sure makes a difference, especially to those who are far far away from ever taking a step into a world that, for me, is the normal one. The world where I can get a loan by walking into a bank. Because I do have collateral as safety. And yet – looking at it from a global perspective, what I deem normal, is far from just that, for a majority of people living on earth. Humbling insight, as the entire week-long visit to Kenya has proven to be for me.

”I now focused on the task of unlearning theory, and on learning instead from the real world. I did not have to travel miles to find the real world. It was just outside the doors of the classroom.
It was everywhere except inside the classroom.”

There will be more reflections on Banker to the poor in relation to what I learned while in Kenya in June of 2019. ”From the real world” as it were. A journey of eye-opening insights, as well as a deep appreciation for what I have, along with massive awe at the potential of humans.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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