Jim Holland's journey from a life in the Royal Navy to planting millions of trees across the globe is nothing short of inspirational. A former serviceman, Jim faced injury while playing rugby and had to transition into civilian life.
After a stint in the tech and corporate sector, a forced redundancy during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 made him rethink his path, ultimately leading him to form a charity and a business centred around reforestation and social impact.
From Idea to MVP: The Birth of Carma
The initial seed for Carma was planted when Jim became involved with the 'Green Task Force,' a project started by his Navy comrade, Andy Steele. Andy's 'Plant a Tree Today Foundation' had already planted over three and a half million trees across three continents, and Jim was inspired to follow suit.
Taking this idea further, Jim founded Carma, a company designed to simplify social and climate impact by connecting businesses to reforestation projects. Initially conceived as a B2C e-commerce business, budget constraints led to a strategic shift towards a B2B and B2B2C model.
Today, Carma partners with businesses and has a Shopify app in the pipeline to bundle a tree with every product sold.
This approach has not only helped fund tree planting but has reportedly increased conversion rates for their customers.
The Importance of Social Impact and Environmental Stewardship
Carma's mission to remove a billion tons of CO2 is achieved through tree planting, which not only aids in carbon offsetting but also contributes to biodiversity.
While they do not provide exact numbers of CO2 absorption due to the many variables involved, an average tree over 100 years may offset a tonne and a half of CO2.
Importantly, Carma is not an offsetting company but focuses on creating a positive social impact and biodiversity gain. The company's focus on social impact and environmental stewardship serves as a model for other businesses.
The Power of Carbon Literacy
Carma is partnering with Inspiration Space for the Low Carbon Accelerator, aiming to close the carbon literacy gap.
They're offering a Carma dashboard to the next group of students, enabling them to offset 44.6 tons of CO2 over 12 months.
Jim said, "The Low Carbon Accelerator will quickly and succinctly bring your employees up to speed on the terminology and the impact they're having in the carbon space, and really talk with meaningful purpose in this space and understand what's going on and the trends in industry. Wonderful thing to be part of, can't wait to get stuck in.”
Lessons for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Throughout his journey, Jim has learned valuable lessons that he believes all aspiring entrepreneurs should know:
Join a community of like-minded individuals. Being part of a startup group provides a safe space for asking questions and sharing experiences.
Stay adaptable. The ability to pivot, as demonstrated in Carma's shift from a B2C to a B2B model, can be crucial to a startup's survival and growth.
Align passion with purpose. Passion alone is not enough; it must be combined with a wider purpose that meets societal or environmental needs.
Be patient with progress. Change and growth often take time. Patience and resilience are key.
Consider the broader impact of your business. From the start, think about how your business can have a positive social and environmental impact.
Missed the live conversation? Listen in!
Check out the full conversation with Jim Holland, Founder and CEO of Carma, and Liana Fricker, Founder of Inspiration Space, as they discuss their incredible journeys in combating climate change through a 'give first' approach to entrepreneurship 🌳🌱