Sustainable investment: Thinking outside the box

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Non-profit organization Virtual Enterprises International held its annual gala at Cipriani in New York City in April.

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Pictured left-to-right: Iris Blanc, founder, VE; Helen Avery, Euromoney magazine; Jeff Raider, co-founder, Harry's and co-founder, Warby Parker; Robert W. Hawley, Jr, CEO of CIB Americas and head of global markets, Americas; Jay Williams, ESPN host, former NBA Star; and Nick Chapman, president, VE

Following the format of reality TV shows such as Dragon’s Den in the UK and Shark Tank in the US, a panel of expert judges awarded prizes to budding student entrepreneurs. 

Euromoney’s sustainable finance editor, Helen Avery, was one of four 'sharks' at the event, others being Jeff Raider, co-founder of shaving products firm Harry’s and eyewear brand Warby Parker; Bob Hawley, CEO of CIB Americas for BNP Paribas; and ESPN host and former NBA star, Jay Williams. 

Virtual Enterprises provides programmes in high schools in the US that allow students to virtually create and run their own businesses. This year, one section of the programme had a sustainability twist: high-school teams could come up with a sustainable business idea and the winning team would receive $10,000 from BNP Paribas to help turn the business idea into reality.

The sharks were unanimous in naming the Phoenix Wood team from Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, California as the winners. The team designed and produced a wooden wine crate that uses beetle-killed wood from Pacific Northwest forests, reducing the debris that contributes to such devastating forest fires in the region.