We bring you the story of CoGo Connecting Good, ClimateTrade and Scoobic Urban Mobility, the three winners of the Santander X Environmental Challenge Be Sustainable category.
On 29 April, we announced the six winning projects of the Santander X Environmental Challenge, a worldwide initiative we launched in February 2021 through our global Santander X network for entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to build a more sustainable future in line with our commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth and the fight against climate change. Its aim is to support green entrepreneurship and increase visibility of a section of the business community in need of vast structural, media and financial backing.
More than 850 entrepreneurship projects signed up to the Challenge, but only 20 made it to the final. The six winners will each receive EUR 20,000 to implement their projects, expert mentoring from the Oxentia Foundation global network, the highest visibility on Santander's channels and recognition to propel them to the next level of their entrepreneurial adventure.
The Santander X Environmental Challenge opened two application categories:
Several weeks after the final, the Be Sustainable category winners share what this victory means to them.
ClimateTrade is a marketplace that uses blockchain technology to connect companies to green entrepreneurship projects they can invest their carbon credits in to offset their footprint towards carbon neutrality. It harnesses blockchain’s transparency and traceability to curb speculation and make sure investments reach sustainable projects.
Head of this pioneering project is Spaniard Francisco Benedito, who stressed that his vision of climate urgency is everyone's business: "As citizens, we must be aware that everything we do in our daily lives has an impact on the environment. Companies must also understand if the decisions they make in their day-to-day are the most sustainable for our planet.”
ClimateTrade was created in 2019. In just two years, he has been performing admirably, with many honours and awards that add to the one achieved in the challenge. Benedito started the venture for two reasons: "The first is that I rely on technology as a key tool for fighting climate change and supporting sustainable projects. With it, we can provide better living conditions and have a direct impact on restoring environmental balance. The second is simpler but just as important: I have a baby girl and want to leave her a better planet", he explained.
Benedito is already feeling the benefits of being one of the winners: "great professionals from Banco Santander have helped us develop and expand our green economy project. Initiatives such as the Santander X Environmental Challenge are, without a doubt, vital to promote and support green entrepreneurship".
Another winner, UK fintech COGO, developed a real-time carbon footprint tracker. Its app aims to help millions of consumers better understand the impact of their footprint on the planet.
Emma Kisby, managing director of COGO, believes we’re the first generation to feel the effects of the climate crisis. So-called "climate anxiety" is a cause of stress that is growing every day, particularly among Generation Z. For Kisby, that generation, which will really have to face up to this challenge, is the most aware of the importance of individual sustainability habits.
COGO has a simple proposal to increase awareness. Consumers have an app they can link to digital banking and register their key concerns, be they a living wage or personalized carbon footprint data. The app analyses their spending to check the data against the sustainability of the company or product to let them know their environmental impact.
COGO is expanding its technology to businesses and large banks. By partnering with fintechs like it, large corporations can offer these green solutions to their customer bases and make a real impact. For example, COGO's highly customized carbon-footprint tracker can combine with the banking app to create an ethical financial management tool.
Kisby sees COGO's victory in the Santander X Environmental Challenge as invaluable: "First of all, the programme gives you the investment you need to grow. Secondly, as the start-up that we are, it’s not difficult to generate visibility. In that respect, the Challenge has not only increased our exposure, but has been a real confidence booster for our team”.
The third winner was Andalusian startup Scoobic Urban Mobility, whose founders (including CEO José María Gómez Márquez) share a passion for motoring — so much so that they took up the challenge of redesigning last-mile vehicles to make them more efficient and sustainable.
According to Gómez Márquez, "in the last five years, changes in consumer habits and the surge in online shopping mean the number of home deliveries of all kinds of products has increased, leading to an exponential rise in motor scooters and delivery vans that multiplies the problems of urban mobility and, worse still, pollution. This makes it impossible, for example in Europe, to comply with the strict EU Directives on air pollution, noise and CO2”.
Along these lines, Scoobic seeks "to square the circle", as Gómez Márquez puts it. Agile, narrow and electric vehicles that are specially designed for the last mile provide many benefits to the four most concerned groups: companies, which increase deliveries at lower cost; delivery drivers, whose work becomes more efficient and less stressful; citizens, who receive a better delivery service; and the city — the great beneficiary —, which sees its pollution, noise and traffic reduced.
Scoobic has ambitious plans: "We aim to be a local industry with a global mission, using Spanish and European talent to develop and bring the last-mile vehicles of the future to the market, focusing on people: citizens and delivery drivers. All this without forgetting that we’re a company that needs to make a profit and whose business plan aims to exceed 1 billion euros in turnover by 2025, taking us from being a start-up to becoming a unicorn".
For the Scoobic team, initiatives like the Santander X Environmental Challenge "are vital as they enable us to grow with expert advice and the visibility this brings. In our case, this award is extremely valuable because of the enormous repercussions in the media, which is already opening very interesting doors for the growth of the project.”
Banco Santander and its commitment to sustainability
At Banco Santander, we are making headway in our commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth and the fight against climate change. We’re a founding member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative’s (UNEPFI) Net Zero Banking Alliance and have already become carbon neutral in our own operations. We also remain aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
We’ve set our initial decarbonization targets to smooth the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our first steps are to stop financing power generation customers if more than 10% of their revenues depend on thermal coal by 2030 and to cut our exposure to coal mining worldwide to zero by 2030. We’ll also continue to reduce our own footprint and help our customers in the transition to a green economy.