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Introducing our ESG Lab: driving innovative solutions for long-term sustainability

New to BTV in 2021, our ESG Lab began with its first cohort focusing on the themes of circularity and carbon neutrality. Here, we highlight the impact of its model, as well as shine a spotlight on one of the first successful graduates, SOLshare.

solar powered panels in a field

Sustainability accelerator 

The ESG Lab – part of the BTV Lab programme – collaborates with ambitious entrepreneurs to solve some of the biggest challenges in sustainability, such as climate change, child labour and human rights. By being at the forefront of delivering A Better Tomorrow™, we believe that real impact can be achieved to benefit the environment and society as a whole.

The ESG Lab provides innovators with an opportunity to test the viability of their technology in a controlled test environment, otherwise known as a ‘pilot’ or ‘proof-of-concept’. Through assessment, it’s determined whether the start-up’s solution can help address important sustainability issues, and whether it could be rolled-out across BAT’s vast network at scale. 

Our first change-making cohort 

In just over a year, our ESG Lab has designed, implemented and expanded seven pilots across the globe, and we continue to evaluate the potential of each to find solutions with the most significant impact. The first ESG Lab focused on carbon neutrality and circularity; just two themes integral to BAT’s ESG goals. 

The first graduates of the programme include: Ignitia, which helps West African farmers via its tropical weather forecasting technology; Kidogo, a social enterprise that improves access to affordable childcare and education in low-income communities in East Africa; and Imeko, a South American start-up that has developed a chemical recycling process for discarded cigarette butts.

Fighting climate change 

We’re proud to spotlight clean-tech start-up SOLshare as one of our first ESG Lab graduates. Founder Dr. Sebastian Groh and his team are transforming the energy sector in rural Bangladesh with a powerful model that has the potential to be replicated around the world. 

Bangladesh is among the countries most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and it has adopted one of the strongest declarations of climate action by targeting 100% use of renewable energy by 2050. SOLshare, founded in 2014, has become a leader in the peer-to-peer energy space, allowing low-income rural households to access affordable electricity in energy-poor communities. SOLshare’s achievements and ambition have received recognition of the highest order by reaching the top three finalists for the Duke of Cambridge’s inaugural Earthshot Prize and the Zayad Sustainability Prize. 

Following a competitive pitch to the ESG Lab, BTV selected SolShare to take part in the first cohort. The pilot led to the implementation of a network of solar panels at local petrol stations and converted delivery rickshaws to electric. This pilot alone led to a reduction of 10.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions and an increase in driver income of 33%. Beyond the pilot, SolShare has installed over 115 micro-grid systems, reduced 650 megatons of CO2 of carbon emissions, and directly impacted over 50,000 lives. It has been a positive example of how, if implemented at scale, innovative technologies can be used to transform industries, communities and environments alike.

Salma Islam head of Projects, Fundraising and Communications at SOLshare, says: 

“With the global reach and powerful capabilities of the ESG Lab from BTV, SOLshare has been able to accelerate its sustainable solutions, enabling the sharing of surplus energy in one of the country’s worst-hit by global-warming while simultaneously empowering its communities by facilitating trade. Not only have we been able to begin to fulfil our grand ambitions, but we’ve been able to do it in record time thanks to partnering with BTV, which is crucial when climate-change is a global emergency and requires immediate action.” 

Become part of something 

Discover more about our ESG Lab if you’re inspired by the power of change and the chance to propel your concept, or learn more about SOLshare and its innovative solutions. 

Written by
Lukasz Garbowski
Investment director
Written by
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