Greening the world and making a profit in the process – it sounds too good to be true. To Nick van Heesewijk it seemed like a perfect concept, so he invited his cousin Tamar van Heesewijk to come on board and help bring a greener world within closer reach. This was the beginning of Corekees, a family firm whose mission and vision is to create a more sustainable world by making sustainability financially viable on retail level.
What was the inspiration for Corekees?
Nick: “In 2017 I was in Paraguay, next to Brazil, where our fathers are from. My dad had to go back for business and to visit family, and he asked me along as a graduation gift. We went to our uncle’s tree factory, which became our first project. We got a tour of the place and I learned about the work and the philosophy behind the enterprise. I fell in love with the idea then and there, and with the impact it could make on the world as an alternative to fossil fuels. I wanted to make this tangible act of planting a tree available to people back home. I shared my enthusiasm with my uncle, and in no time, we had this concept for Corekees – a form of private investment where you can plant a tree for yourself or someone else and at the same time compensate your CO₂.”
Could you explain how investing through Corekees works?
N: “Corekees is a sustainable investment platform where people can invest in sustainable projects around the globe, making the world a little greener whilst also creating economic value. The first project, which we’ve been doing for several years now, is with Pongamia trees. These are trees that produce small nuts which are harvested annually and pressed to extract raw oil, similar to peanuts. Big oil companies buy the oil and refine it into biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. Corekees then uses the proceeds to plant new trees. So, every year, your tree is both producing an oil for fuel and compensating CO₂.”
What makes this method of ‘giving back’ to the planet so rewarding?
Tamar: “Other initiatives are based mainly on donations. People tend to see giving as something finite; you have a limited budget for that kind of thing. We’re offering an investment in which CO₂ is compensated and you get something in return: a financial return. You don’t need to put a limit on that. There are also companies which pay returns on timber, but we don’t do that because we keep the trees for the nuts, so you get an annual return. We firmly believe that life is too short for dull investments.”
N: “This concept hardly exists yet at the retail level. It costs only 20 euros to buy one of our trees, and that’s fairly new. In time, we want to be a platform that enables people to profit from contributing to a sustainable world. At the moment, we are considering a tree with nuts that can be used to make oil for the cosmetics industry. Or something for the food industry.”
What positive results have you seen so far?
T: “We are working very hard on creating a new project, most likely with trees as well. The Pongamia project launched in 2018 and those trees are three or four years old now. We have closed a full circle of the harvest, distributed the first proceeds of the oil and shared out the first financial returns to our investors. This was a real milestone moment for us, and it feels great. At this stage more than 800 investors have put money into almost 25,000 trees.”
Tamar van Heesewijk
Hobbies: football and cycling
Favourite spot in RCD: Wijnbar Janssen
Nick van Heesewijk
Hobbies: running, cycling and golf
Favourite spot in RCD: Groot Handelsgebouw & Witte de Withstraat
Text: Céline Boute
Photography: Ruben Stam