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Better Globe

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have gathered some of the most common questions stakeholders have had before they became our clients. If you have any question which is not answered below, click here to contact us.
  1. What if my tree is attacked by pests or burns up?
  2. How does the return come from the trees?
  3. How can you guarantee the return?
  4. What happens if there is extreme drought or crop failure one year?
  5. Africa is politically unstable. What happens if there is a change of power?
  6. Is Better Globe a charitable organization?
  7. Do 3 euros for schools and microcredit activities really make a difference?
  8. Does Better Globe make money on the poor in Africa?
  9. What happens if the price of timber falls?
  10. In which countries is Better Globe doing business?
  11. How do I know if Better Globe will do what they say they will do?
  12. Who are the people behind Better Globe?
  13. What is Better Globe's opinion about the problems related to land grabbing?
  14. How do I become a customer of Better Globe?
  15. What part of the donation package is earmarked charity?
  16. Is Better Globe ISO or FSC certified?
  17. Are the Better Globe trees insured in any way?
  18. How many trees are planted per hectare?
  19. Has Better Globe taken the ground water level into account when drilling for water?
  20. Has Better Globe considered that when using such small amounts of water at a time, there is a risk of salt staying in the dirt around the tree and eventually killing it?
  21. Has Better Globe paid any returns on investments to tree buyers?
  22. How can Better Globe guarantee 15 percent return and then 10 times the money in 20 years?
  23. How will lumber prices change over time?
  24. What risks are there?
  25. What happens if for instance the Euro collapses?
  26. What happens if Better Globe goes out of business?
  27. What does "the numbers" look like for Better Globe?
  28. What is and what does an ambassador do for Better Globe?
  29. How are my Better Globe trees taxed?
  30. What happens if tree owner passes away?
  31. What happens if the trees get stolen from the plantations?

 

What if my tree is attacked by pests or burns up?

At home, we write on most pages that once you buy a tree you then have a right to it for 20 years. This means that you actually own a tree but not a specific tree. Had there been a definite physical tree, the risk of the individual tree owner would have been too great. However, our trees are of a special kind, namely Mukau, which we are very experienced in growing with great predictability and creating a positive return.

When Better Globe plants many of these trees, you own one of them. Eventually, Better Globe will always plant more trees than those owned by our customers—at least two trees per owner. You need not worry if your individual trees are attacked by insects, fire, or die in some other way. Similarly, since we have plantations in several different areas, this reduces the risk of fire and other local influences.

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How does the return come from the trees?

It simply comes from our business. We sell timber, fruits, and other products that are harvested at our plantations. We also deal with seeds of various trees, and we will soon run nurseries and sawmills and more. Our business has many sources of revenue. For example, when your tree is felled to make way for a new tree, it is sold for considerably more than the € 15 that it cost you when you bought it.

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How can you guarantee the return?

Better Globe cannot guarantee any returns. We mean an expected return, which is based on what we know about the cost of labor and machinery and other forms of overhead and also what we know about the price of trees and other things that we sell today.

As with any other activities, you can project expected growth, which we have done. What we do not have in our calculation is any price increase in timber from its level today. We have, therefore, been extremely cautious and made moderate calculations in declaring what we intend to give back to those who own the trees.

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What happens if there is extreme drought or crop failure one year?

Our climate and terrain remain constant. We are good at what we do, and we are experienced through a number of years of development. Naturally, anything can happen in the forest industry, but we believe we are very well prepared. In addition, we have plantations in several different places, just to be able to isolate different types of disruptions that may occur.

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Africa is politically unstable. What happens if there is a change of power?

We are establishing ourselves in regions that are politically stable, but, of course, anything can happen in theory. In general, Africa is more unstable than many other countries in the world, but we are establishing ourselves in countries such as Kenya and Uganda, where stability is good and has been over time. More and more countries are moving in that direction now, and we hope to contribute with a positive impact on this development.

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Is Better Globe a charitable organization?

No, it is not based on the concept of “charity.” We do well in our work and perhaps resemble a charity, but we are not. We believe in operational forces and that people will do their best to lift themselves out of any predicament.

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Does 3 euros for schools and microcredit activities really make a difference?

Yes, it really makes a big difference. When many people work for a common cause, it helps a lot, and in a case such as microfinancing, the money is recirculated so that new people can be helped as older borrowers repay their loans. 1.50 Euros in the context of building schools is sufficient for many schools if enough people add 1.50 Euros each month.

Consistent and sustained contributions make the difference, not the actual amounts. That is the reason why we focus so much to create an economic upside for the tree buyers and our stakeholders. If there is an economic upside, it becomes obvious to contribute in the long-term, rather then giving a one-off charity at a charity gala. Long-term commitment is the key to real change.

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Does Better Globe make money on the poor in Africa?

No, absolutely not! Better Globe earns money on the management of forestry products. We give full-time support to the poor and help them all that we can. They are able to work on a salary, have good health, good employment, and receive an education by working with us. They are also able to get loans and water and have their children in school. It is a win-win-win concept, and we make absolutely no money on "the poor in Africa".

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What happens if the price of timber falls?

Better Globe will earn less money, and this may lead us to revise our estimates. We do so, of course, regularly in any case. Even if prices do fall, however, it will not affect the agreements already made regarding the trees. Owners of trees will get their agreed return, even if we have to change the yield for those buying new trees.

We think it is quite unlikely that the price of trees will fall, since the imbalance between supply and demand on the earth’s resources of trees is very high today. We believe there will always be a shortage of timber, given how much we have destroyed forests in the last 60 years.

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In which countries is Better Globe doing business?

We currently have plantations in few areas in Kenya, and Child Africa conducts its operations in Uganda and Kenya. People, who buy trees and donation packages from Better Globe, are located in more than 60 countries worldwide.

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How do I know that Better Globe will do what they say they will do?

You do not know, but we have organized several trips to Africa for our customers since 2008. About 20 customers attend each trip we arrange to get a hands-on experience of what Better Globe does, how we do it and to explore Africa. Some of our customers who have been on our trips come home excited to show pictures, videos and to tell stories at meetings and seminars. You can also join the next customer trip we organize to see and experience what we do and get your own impressions and experiences. There, you will also have a chance to get all of your questions answered by our experts working in the field.

We try to be as informative and transparent as we possibly can. We regularly send out newsletters, and we have a magazine called Miti, which also provides information about what we do. On www.betterglobemedia.com you can find more images, videos and updated blog news.

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Who are the people behind Better Globe?

Better Globe AS is a privately owned Norwegian company and was founded in 2006 by Rino Solberg (CEO - Chairman of the Board), Einar Formo (Support Director) and Jan-Tore Øvrevik (Director of Development). A number of other different owners are also involved in the Better Globe Group — either to market the company or who participate in Child Africa's or Better Globe Forestry's activities.

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What is Better Globe's opinion about the problems related to land grabbing?

This is a huge problem worldwide and it affects poor countries and poor individuals. We are totally against such development, but we are also fully aware of what poor people with few resources will do.

Many multinational corporations work with poor governments who sell out their people. This is just one more reason why it is so important that we make our project work and need your help. Without us, sooner or later someone will take land from these people instead of someone like us — who do not buy their land — but give them jobs, schools, water, and many other useful resources.

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How do I become a customer of the Better Globe?

You can buy donation packages and/or trees. Click here to become a customer of Better Globe right now »

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What part of the donation package is earmarked charity?

Of the donation package, which costs 49 Euros, 19 Euros are earmarked charity and the remaining 30 Euros will be spent on your two Better Globe trees. You as a customer will own these two Better Globe trees, which will give you a return for the next 20 years (from year 5-20). 100 percent of the charity money is allocated microloans, school construction, water (water drilling) and donated trees.

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Is Better Globe ISO or FSC certified?

Better Globe Forestry who works with the forestry operation is today operating in accordance with both environmental and QMS certifications built around ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Rino Solberg, Chairman of Better Globe Forestry, has worked as an ISO consultant and trained over 150 companies to become ISO certified. We have therefore had procedures for ISO certification in place for several years and operate according to those requirements. We still do not see the need for an ISO certification at this stage of the operation. It will be far more relevant when the mahogany trees become more mature and we start selling products from our farms.

Concerning FSC certification; our afforestation today is not on a level where this kind of certificate is needed.

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Are the Better Globe trees insured in any way?

We have researched the possibility to insure the trees. It is possible to insure the trees, but the premiums we’ve been quoted have been so high that it is not reasonable to insure them from a business or financial perspective. In addition, the insurance would only cover the purchase price, which would not be enough for our customers. We are therefore working actively to mitigate the risks in many different ways. Our plantations are geographically spread out, we are continuously working on improving the quality of the trees we’re planting and we have good margins on everything we do.

We have the ambition to in a very near future plant two trees for every one sold to ensure as far as possible that regardless of what happens to an individual tree, we can keep our promises.

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How many trees are planted per hectare?

Today we’re planting about 400 trees per hectare. One hectare is 10,000 square meters or an area of 100 by 100 meters.

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Has Better Globe taken the ground water level into account when drilling for water?

Yes, these issues are also monitored by NEMA (National Environment Management Authority), who has to give their approval before any drilling for water can take place.

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Has Better Globe considered that when using such small amounts of water at a time, there is a risk of salt staying in the dirt around the tree and eventually killing it?

Yes, we have over 5 years of our own research in combination with both our own empiric experience and expert advice on how we can create the best conditions for cultivation at our different plantations.

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Has Better Globe paid any returns on investments to tree buyers?

Yes, Better Globe paid out the first returns in 2010 to those who purchased trees in 2006, and a second payment in 2011. Those who purchased trees in 2007 got their first return paid out on December 7th, 2011. A total of 909 people received their return payment in 2011.

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How can Better Globe guarantee 15 percent return and then 10 times the money in 20 years?

Better Globe cannot guarantee any return, but those are numbers we are confident we can deliver, from what we know today. The annual return comes from so called cash crops such as applemango which we can plant in Nyongoro, but also from other products in the operation that we can sell, such as seeds, fruit, consulting, Miti, and more. We are also counting on being able to sell other products based on Mukau trees, starting in 2012. Better Globe is of course like any other company depending on being able to sell our products on the market. Please take a look at the answer to the next question as well.

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How will lumber prices change over time?

We are continuously following ITTO market reports and analyses, even if their reports aren’t specifically about mukau trees, which are the trees we are planting. Mukau is actually of better quality than the American mahogany, which they do report on, and the market analyses are in our favor. According to ITTO the price (Export sawnwood prices) for Kiln Dried Mahogany was 665 Euros per cubic meter at the end of 2009, and at the end of 2011 it was 685 Euros per cubic meter; an increase of about 3 percent in two years.

Our mukau mahogany tree is also of significantly better quality than African mahogany of which a fully grown tree of about 0.35 cubic meters is worth about 230 Euros  today (2012), which is more than enough to cover the 150 Euros to be paid out after 20 years.

In addition, we don’t think the price for mahogany will be stagnant in the next 20 years, but even if it would be, there are enough margins to cover our obligations. We therefore consider this market risk to be minimal.

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What risks are there? E.g. lumber price, Euro collapsing, the company goes bankrupt, one of the employees die, etc.

Of course there are risks with Better Globe and we work hard on mitigating and minimizing these risks. We discussed lumber costs in the question above; the collapse of the Euro has a very small impact since we can pay out the return in another currency if needed. The risk for a company without debt is small, but that is of no consequence since the trees are owned by the people who purchased them. Please take a look at the answer to the next question as well. All employees will sooner or later expire, but the trees belong to the owners regardless, and it would of course be a practical problem if all employees died at the same time.

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What happens if for instance the Euro collapses?

From the tree owners’ perspective, a collapse of the euro is almost negligible, since the return is depending on our ability to sell our products on the world market, where payments are made in the currency requested. That means that we, if the situation demands it, can fulfill our commitments in other currencies such as US dollars, British pounds, or any other currency.

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What happens if Better Globe goes out of business?

You as a customer of Better Globe already have a document showing that you own a certain number of trees purchased in a specific year. Our forestry company Better Globe Forestry Ltd. in Kenya has, on their own initiative, contracted with an attorney to draw up a letter that will function as additional proof of ownership. Our ambition is to complete it during 2012.

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What does "the numbers" look like for Better Globe?

The Norwegian company falls under Norwegian law for incorporations, which means that you can get the annual report every year. You can look at the records from the Norwegian Bolagsverket by clicking here or here. Our entity number is 992593148.

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What is and what does an ambassador do for Better Globe?

An ambassador for Better Globe is a person who likes the operation of Better Globe so much that he or she wants to share it with other people in their environment. It’s a person who is an ambassador for the brand and the company Better Globe. Just like any other company, Better Globe appreciates if existing customers recommends new customers. As a thank you, Better Globe gives a bonus donation to all customers, regardless whether or not they are ambassadors, who helps out and recommends 6 new customers who purchase a monthly donation package. Read more about recommending Better Globe here »

There is also an opportunity for ambassadors to sell trees and donation packages on a professional level for compensation from Better Globe for every sold tree/donaton package. For more information, contact your ambassador or contact us here»

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How are my Better Globe trees taxed?

The trees are tax in accordance to the tax law you fall under. It would be administratively impossible for Better Globe to send out tax information to several thousand customers in over 60 countries, so it is your responsibility as a customer of Better Globe to make sure you’re following the tax code in your country.

Talk to your accountant or tax attorney to find out how the trees are taxed if you own them through your company.

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What happens if tree owner passes away?

The ownership of Better Globe trees represent a fixed value over 20 years, based on price on purchase date. All tree owners have received an AID code (account number) and password to log onto www.betterglobe.com, where we provide an overview of all assets owned. If tree owner passes away, his or her heirs take over the assets. Inheritors must submit death certificate to Better Globe AS, as well as name, email and phone numbers for the inheritors who will be taking over the trees/assets. If there are more than one inheritor, they'll all have to share the tree owners account(s), since Better Globe cannot split an account into multiple accounts.

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What happens if the trees get stolen from the plantations?

To date, no trees have been stolen from our plantations and this is otherwise not any issue. We have 24/7 guards (mostly for animals). Besides, our employees live at the plantations and would be the first ones to discover such an attempt. People around the plantations also know well that it is in their best interests to protect the forestry operations and what Better Globe does for locals. Outgrowers (contract farmers) will also protect their own share of profit from the trees by making sure no one steals them. In addition, each outgrower has their own agroforestry consultant who continually checks upon the trees. Better Globe Forestry is responsible for all repurchases of trees our customers have purchased; stolen or not.

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If you can’t find answers to your questions on this page, please contact us.