Treetracker Spotlight: January 2021

Happy New Year! Welcome to this year’s first Treetracker Spotlight! This month, we are featuring Alex Omijeh, Director of Regional Market Development at Blue Gold Works.

Blue Gold Works is a safe water enterprise that creates water purification solutions for developing nations. They utilize the products of Moringa trees, which are known for their high nutritional value and cosmetic applications. Moringa seeds are ground into a fine powder and mixed with water. After about 8 hours, the coagulant and antibacterial properties of the moringa powder cause any impurities to settle at the bottom of the container. After filtering out those unwanted substances, the water is safe to drink!

Over the years, Blue Gold Works has partnered with various organizations and experts to enhance their water purification systems. With help from a professor at Pennsylvania State University, they have developed a moringa seed cake water filter. This compressed cake of moringa powder, which has since been adopted in rural Nigerian communities, can provide enough EPA-safe drinking water to support a family of six each day. 

Such innovations can change the lives of entire families and communities. In Western countries, we tend to take our clean water supply for granted. However, there are approximately 1 billion people on the planet without consistent access to clean drinking water. Setting aside the severe health consequences of having contaminated water for cooking, bathing, and drinking, it is an incredibly time-consuming task. The time that sub-Saharan Africans in particular spend collecting water could be spent on education and employment, which in turn provide a positive return on investment via income or qualification for higher-paying jobs in the future. 

Another partnership between Blue Gold Works and a Nigerian professor resulted in the development of a miniature water treatment plant that utilizes Moringa seed cake. The plant filters local groundwater into clean drinking water. It can provide roughly 10,000 liters of water per day, enough to supply an entire community! Blue Gold Works is currently working with that professor to replicate the system in other communities.  

Alex explained that water purification, especially in rural areas, generates very little profit. Blue Gold Works recognizes how vital their services are, but that they cannot help anyone if their prices are unaffordable for the communities that need them most. Their primary competition in the water purification space is chlorine-treated water. Chlorine treatment is cheaper, but can have negative health effects in the long-run. Members of rural communities, in Africa and around the world, often lack access to health care resources, and therefore would likely not receive adequate care for any complications that may arise from ingesting chlorinated water. 

In order to stay competitive, Blue Gold Works has embarked on other social ventures across the African continent. They work directly with Moringa tree farmers in order to ensure that the products they sell meet the USDA’s standards for organic produce, and that each farm is properly certified. After harvesting and processing Moringa seeds for water filtration, there is an antioxidant-rich oil leftover that is typically used in soaps and cosmetic creams. Blue Gold Works purchases that oil, as well as nutritious Moringa leaves, directly from the farmer. They then sell the oil to cosmetic companies for a profit. In addition, Blue Gold Works is able to offer tree farmers a higher price for their products than they would make selling the oil locally.

Moringa trees are also incredibly valuable for local ecosystems. Moringa trees produce high nitrogen and other nutrients that promote healthy soil. Because Blue Gold Works encourages their farmers to maintain mixed-species plantings, rather than practicing monocropping, many of these farms are small biodiversity hotspots. One Nigerian farmer also keeps bees on his Moringa farm. The honey they produce after fertilizing Moringa flowers is very rich in nutrients that makes Moringa so valuable. Blue Gold Works also purchases that farmer’s honey and sells it. In addition, two adult Moringa trees are able to sequester about 320 kilograms of CO2 per year, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of CO2 produced by one human. Ten moringa trees can sequester the amount of CO2 produced by a family car in the same amount of time!

After discovering Greenstand, Alex quickly introduced the Treetracker to some Moringa tree farmers he had been working with in Nigeria. He recognizes the benefits of tracking trees for Blue Gold Works and the individual farmers themselves. He especially appreciates the ease of using the Treetracker’s admin panel feature, which allows for him to see all of the trees planted by Blue Gold Works affiliated planters and filter them by attributes such as species, age, and location. The idea of quantifying environmental (and in this case, social) impacts into Impact Tokens and being able to trade them with investors is “very exciting” to Alex. He is looking forward to working with Greenstand to spread awareness about Blue Gold Works, tracking trees, and other similar restoration projects. 

Most importantly, Blue Gold Works is a mission-driven organization like Greenstand. They value people, planet, and profit, in that order. “There are a lot of ways to make money,” Alex told us. “But money wouldn’t mean anything to me if I wasn’t touching people’s lives in a good way.” We couldn’t agree more! Restoring our physical environment would not be possible without restoring our social and economic environments as well. We look forward to continuing to change lives with Blue Gold Works. 

For more information on Blue Gold Works, be sure to visit their website.

Are you interested in tracking trees with Greenstand? Please visit greenstand.org/contribute to see how you can get involved!


Erin Baker

Communications Lead, Greenstand

erin.baker@greenstand.org


Blue Gold Works logo