Poor timing, perhaps, with Twitter likely to crash and Google having to Ask Jeeves for help with the flood of search queries for “funding secured?” but #CryptoClimate’s back to try and cut through the noise. As the last in a series of mostly carbon-focused expert commentary and Q&A features, Richard Harries, CEO of Cofndrs stands apart.

Richard answers Conviction’s questions from a unique perspective with Cofndrs. Unlike JustCarbon and Likvidi which offer individuals carbon credits, Richard’s platform for sustainable finance connects other purpose-driven startups with consumers to finance environment and social development projects like eHempHouse.

Subscribe for free, head to #CryptoClimate for a full roundup of the series and read on for the final Q&A with Cofndrs that applies blockchain for sustainable finance beyond carbon markets.

Richard Harries, CEO of Cofndrs

Is the hype around mainstream crypto, trading, volatility and one controversy after another holding back blockchain innovation?

Mainstream cryptocurrencies certainly create barriers to innovation. There’s a reason why banks are still hesitant to accept cryptocurrencies and even China has moved to ban them, citing the potential for financial crime and money laundering. And that’s before you even mention the massive amount of computing power required and the carbon emissions that go hand-in-hand.

In developing the Cofndrs platform, we looked at blockchain, identified flaws and developed our own database. We liked blockchain’s ‘smart ledger’ that instantly creates a ‘contract’ as soon as a coin is created, but blockchain’s limitation for what we’re trying to achieve is that it doesn’t create a clear paper trail of who actually owns the coin or who is selling it to you. It’s all anonymous - hence why mainstream cryptocurrencies are an AML concern.

Everything on our platform is documented, with the source and destination of each transaction identified and recorded. We felt we could be more socially responsible by developing our own approach.

“Mainstream cryptocurrencies certainly create barriers to innovation. [Not least due to] the massive amount of computing power required and the carbon emissions that go hand-in-hand.”

What are the most promising sustainable, social and environmental uses for blockchain technologies?

Technologies such as blockchain can break down barriers to participation for even the smallest of players and can be a game-changer, helping level the playing field for organisations, governments and economies working towards inclusive growth.

Blockchain’s requirement for cooperation and ability to operate across geographical, regulatory and trust boundaries can be hugely transformational for environmental and social challenges where there’s an inherent need for collaboration across governments, organisations and individuals.

“Blockchain can break down barriers to participation for even the smallest of players and can be a game-changer, helping level the playing field for… inclusive growth.”

How is a carbon marketplace built on blockchain any better than what’s been around since the 90s, especially in light of crypto’s emissions?

Blockchain breaks down barriers and can enable borderless trade and cooperation, so there’s the potential to create a globally-recognised carbon economy that is independent of national and international regulations, carbon policies and initiatives. Encouraging greater cooperation internationally has got to be a good thing.

Ultimately it will depend on the problem it’s solving, but the number one drawback with using blockchain in an environmental capacity is the computing power and energy required to run it. This is exactly why we decided to step away from it as a solution when we developed the Cofndrs platform.

“Blockchain breaks down barriers and can enable borderless trade and cooperation, so there’s the potential to create a globally-recognised carbon economy.”
eHempHouse’s recently launched eHempCoin supports Zambian farmers to profitably cultivate carbon-negative hemp. The value-backed coin is being made available at Cofndrs.

What does the partnership with eHempHouse say about your broader growth strategy?

One of the core benefits of cryptocurrencies is that they can be used in different types of marketplaces and offer far more flexibility than traditional currencies. Our ambition is to work with socially and environmentally conscious businesses around the world and the eHempCoin is just the beginning.

The Cofndrs platform enables organisations like eHempHouse to work across borders, activating a community of like-minded individuals to come together and accelerate the success of purposeful initiatives.

eHempHouse currently supports farmers in Zambia and the eHempCoin is helping to achieve its mission but longer-term, eHempHouse will scale into other regions where hemp is being grown, using the funds raised to make it even more economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

“One of the core benefits of cryptocurrencies is that they can be used in different types of marketplaces and offer far more flexibility than traditional currencies.”
Image credit: eHempHouse

What does the finance provide for smallholder farmers? And are there plans to diversify the funding of projects?

The branded, value-backed coins that are unique to the Cofndrs platform are scalable and can be used for a range of applications. We’re already working with organisations such as BalaTAM in Singapore and Malaysia, a community-farming enterprise that helps the unemployed to train as farmers, operating and managing zero waste small-holdings.

By funding BalaTAM’s projects, which are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, coin holders can support the success of social and sustainable initiatives.

“The branded, value-backed coins that are unique to the Cofndrs platform are scalable and can be used for a range of applications.”

Who are the investors behind Cofndrs and eHempHouse?

Cofndrs completed a £550,000 seed round in late 2021, which was led by investors that include a Managing Director at Nomura, Stephen Palmer, the CEO of Makevale, Dr Samit Ahir and DAKSS Investments.

eHempHouse is currently looking to raise investor backing so that it can continue to roll out its innovative Smartbox technology, a transportable container-sized hemp processing machine that can be used off-grid by farmers in their fields, generating power using the hemp oil from the hemp crop it processes.

The eHempCoin launched on the Cofndrs platform is step one in helping it to raise the funding it needs to kickstart its carbon-negative hemp farming revolution.

“eHempHouse is currently looking to raise investor backing so that it can continue to roll out its innovative Smartbox technology, a transportable container-sized hemp processing machine that can be used off-grid by farmers.”

Subscribe for free to leave a comment below, follow Richard on Twitter, on LinkedIn and visit the Cofndrs website for more.


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