60-second start-up: Global Forestry Investments

Sum your business up in a sentence:

Global Forestry Investments is an ethical investment company. We focus on sustainability in the Brazilian forestry industry, protecting the land for future generations and helping to change the world by planting one tree at a time.

What's the business model?

We source timber plantations in emerging markets, predominately in South America. We package the assets, partnered with our UK trustees, and make it available to the retail and corporate market. We have a strong focus on giving back to the local communities in the regions where we work and seek to protect the rainforests from unsustainable deforestation.

Who are your competitors?

We are the leading forestry investment company in the UK and try not to worry too much about our competitors as, ultimately, we're all working to the same goal of protecting the planet for future generations and ensuring the land is used commercially in a sustainable and controlled way.

What's your USP?

For every tree an investor purchases, we will purchase a second tree in the Brazilian Amazon that will remain completely protected.

How have you funded it so far?

Global Forestry Investments was funded via the profits we made as property investors.

What were you doing before?

Omari: I started my career playing for Charlton Athletic and Wimbledon until I tore the ligaments in my leg which killed my sporting career. Shortly after, I purchased a property, did it up and sold it on, making a small profit in the process. From here I moved into the property sector.

Andrew: I was working in the property market at the same time, our paths crossed and we started doing more and more business together until we became partners and GFI was born.

Where did the idea come from?

Omari: When Andrew and I met, we clicked straight away and began to work together in the property sector. Every evening we'd speak to each other on the phone and discuss what business opportunities were arising globally. We read that a lot of banks were doing land grabs in emerging markets and that the hedge funds were investing in timber, so we decided to take six months out, travelling the world and exploring the opportunities available.

After purchasing a small plot of land in Brazil we moved into the timber business and, in particular, teak wood. We have now sold over 500 hectares and are on the verge of signing a deal for another 1,000. We manage the land and ensure it is protected.

What's the smartest thing you've done so far?

Bringing in a good PR company that has helped to raise the profile of our projects.

What's the stupidest?

Everyone makes mistakes but we always ensure we do our due diligence and go that extra mile. It's important to learn from every mistake you make and that learning process has got us to where we are today. I guess you could call it failing your way to success!

If your business was a biscuit, what would it be?

It would have to be a mint Viscount: the green wrapper represents the green aspect of our business and the crunchy biscuit reflects our willingness to get down to the nitty gritty of the task in hand. The mint Viscount has also been around for a long time, which Global Forestry Investments aspires to do too!

Which idea are you a bit jealous of?

Apple, for their branding and originality.

Where are you going to be in 12 months' time?

We have some exciting projects in the pipeline that will not only make us the most recognised green investment company in the UK but, hopefully, Europe and beyond.

Find out more about Global Forestry Investments

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