"We provide cost-effective green infrastructure solutions to tackle a wide range of soil and water related challenges"
(Jonathan Barcant, Vetiver TT)
Vetiver TT EES – Roots of sustainability in a tropical climate
Vetiver TT, a for-profit social company with public and private sector clients, has introduced vetiver grass to Trinidad and Tobago, demonstrating that it can be used as a simple and cost effective environmental and conservation solution to stabilise slopes, control erosion, conserve soil and water and rehabilitate contaminated water and land in tropical climates.
A twin island country situated off the northern edge of the South American mainland, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has long thrived on fossil fuels, leading it to embrace large-scale construction and commercial activities whilst discouraging the development of a sustainable economy. Despite having ideal conditions for year-round farming, for example, Trinidad and Tobago imports more than 90% of its food.
Volatile oil prices are forcing Trinidad and Tobago to diversify, and its citizens are waking up to the environmental fallout of industrial development and consumerism. There are still pristine places in the country, but environmental catastrophes such as decimated hillsides, quarries and landfills, which leak leachate into water supplies and waste into rivers and seas, serve as stark reminders of the environmental works and transitions needing to be undergone.
The Vetiver Plant and its benefits. Source: Vetiver TT
Entrepreneurial Approach and Innovation
Vetiver TT EES Ltd has developed a “soft engineering” technique which uses vetiver grass to address diverse environmental challenges in tropical climates. When implemented according to the Vetiver System (VS), hedgerows slow down runoff, and capture and recharge groundwater, also stabilising slopes, protecting against erosion, conserving soil and water, and cleaning contaminated land and water through phytoremediation. Vetiver TT EES Ltd serves clients including homeowners facing soil movement issues, commercial construction companies, as well as public infrastructure and community development projects.
Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides), the key component of VS, offers a green and cost-effective way to rehabilitate the degraded hillsides of Trinidad and Tobago’s Northern Range, where forest fires rage every two to three years in the dry season and subsequent rains wash away topsoil and often cause flooding downstream. Because it is certified sterile and non-invasive by the USDA, the grass poses no risk when introduced to new areas, yet costs as little as 15% to 20% of “hard engineering” alternatives.
Vetiver TT EES Business Model
Vetiver TT has been able to grow since the organisation applied for the ReSource Award and has realised more than 80 residential projects as well as commercial and public works projects, including infrastructure (drainage and road) protection and coastal erosion and quarry rehabilitation. The company is now also working through its NGO partner IAMovement to expand regionally to four more Caribbean countries through a community and green business development model called the Vetiver Education and Empowerment Programme (VEEP). As it expands, Vetiver TT ESG Ltd is evolving its model to build capacity to serve private and public engineering projects in the Caribbean, while supporting regional community and government sustainable and climate resilience development programmes.
There is a number of factors contributing to businesses long-term success. This business case has been honoured by the International ReSource Award program mainly due to the following success factors:
|Entrepreneurial spirit||Entrepreneurial spirit stands for:||Vetiver TT is particularly creative because they have identified the opportunitiy of using Vetiver grass as key resource.|
|Access to markets||Vetiver TT is particularly successful due to its active and agile market development. The company is based in Trinidad and Tobago where it identifies customer needs on site.|
Apart from the success factors mentioned above, this start-up has been recognized by the Swiss Re Foundation because of its planning and review expertise and technical operation skills.
How Vetiver TT is innovating its Business Model
One of the innovative aspects about Vetiver is that the company is reducing production or delivery costs by tapping into resources that are abundantly available. Check out the factsheet "Swim in abundance" and find out more!