Better Globe Group
Rino Solberg - NKI College of Engineering
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Chief Executive Officer, Better Globe Group
An interview with Rino Solberg, Chief Executive Officer, Better Globe Group
Our interview on Ethical Forestry Investing with RINO SOLBERG, Chief Executive Officer of Better Globe Group, explores the tremendous contribution of one of Europe’s leading sustainable forestry firms behind the ethical initiatives that are changing the
lives of millions for the better. Executive Global sit down with the renowned speaker, bestselling author, and prolific entrepreneur masterminding the operation that simultaneously provides a healthy return for investors while eradicating poverty in Africa.
Rino Solberg CV
NKI College of Engineering
1963 1963 Grenadier in the Airforce
1968 Running an electric appliance shop
1974 Production and selling of UNISLIP grinding machines in 20 countries)
1975 Motivational speaker, trainer and author of 12 books on personal development
1987 Training of companies to be certified to ISO 9000 standard quality systems
1991 Founded Child Africa (NGO)
2004 Founded Better Globe Group
Ethical Forestry Investing
EG: You have been a successful entrepreneur for many years. What
makes social entrepreneurship different?
Rino Solberg: There is not that much of a difference between regular entrepreneurship and Social entrepreneurship. Both businesses are based on making a profit, but social entrepreneurship makes the profit for the “cost of operation”, meaning that instead of making money for the shareholders, it is given to whatever the cost of running the business is. In my own case for example, our vision is; “to eradicate poverty and corruption in Africa” so instead of trying to increase our own profit, we can as an example pay a poor farmer 10% more than the market price for their trees, as long as we can afford it.
EG: Better Globe Group has a wonderful number of testimonials from the positive contribution you have made to communities. What have the challenges been in gaining a foothold for
tree planting in these markets?
RS: That has been the easy part, as tree planting is wanted everywhere in Africa. In Kenya, the government is desperate to get the tree coverage up to 10% by 2023, which is an optimistic goal and they need all the help they can get. Also, in Uganda where we are planting trees, we are very well received. Throughout most of Africa, illegal logging is taking place and trees are being cut faster than anyone can plant trees enough to match it, so Better Globe Forestry is not having any challenges in gaining a foothold for planting trees.
EG: How important is the strategic collaboration between private sector entities and government agencies in reaching the 10% tree cover target in line with the goals of Vision 2030?
RS: It is very important, because without private sector collaboration there is no way the governments in Africa will reach their targets. Most problems in Africa are due to lack of business approach to solving poverty issues, because charity has never changed anything and will not change anything in Africa. That is why I am personally against charity as a way of solving problems, except for help during catastrophes and disasters. All other developments must be based on business principles of sustainability. When government and the private sector comes together and base development on business principles, the countries are beneficiaries of lasting developments, which will eradicate poverty over time.
EG: How important is Microfinance in the whole equation of eradicating poverty?
RS: Microfinance is mostly a way to kickstart entrepreneurship, whether it is a poor farmer who needs help to get his farm going, or finance for a sawing machine, in order to make some extra income for the household. However, there are also other aspects with microfinance, like learning how to plan for the future through borrowing money, paying it back and learning how to save money by having a savings account. All these factors are important for the eradication of poverty. But maybe the most important factor in the microfinance process is that poor people keep their dignity and pride, as they are working themselves out of poverty in a sustainable manner.
EG What strategies do you deploy to ensure the maximum yield and a healthy return for sustainable forestry investors?
RS: As most other forestry companies are “just foresters,” they are happy when their trees grow and when the trees are fully grown, they hope that the market price for timber is good. This is however not always the case, because it depends on the paper and building industries, which are subject to volatility. The leadership of Better Globe Forestry are mainly businesspeople and we see timber as “raw material,” which must be processed, in order to make a good profit.
This is one of the biggest reasons for Africa being the poorest continent today, because they have been exploited by people from all over the world for over a hundred years, who took all their raw material and processed it elsewhere. Better Globe Forestry has the vision to eradicate poverty in Africa and therefore we have to process all our timber into exportable products like furniture and floor tiles, to mention a few, in order to build employment for Africans and keep the profit in Africa.
EG: You are also a renowned public speaker, giving Tedx talks on eradicating poverty. In what ways does Better Globe Group yield better results than other charities?
RS: First, let me make one thing very clear, Better Globe Forestry is NOT a charity it is a company, BUT it is run as a “Social Entrepreneurship” company, meaning that the AIM of the company is to do good with the profit. The reason being is that any real growth should be self-sustained. Better Globe Group has taken on several areas of sustainability in their business processes. First, massive tree planting, as the business model for making a profit for all parties involved, from the one financing the tree from the outset, to the people planting them and all in between. Tree planting is also good for the local environment as well as for fighting global warming. On top of that, we do the processing of the timber and own all the processes of every step all the way to the customer, which ensures that we will remain with majority of the profit. Secondly, Better Globe Group helps families sustain themselves by providing micro loans and teaching them how to save money. Thirdly, Better Globe Group is supporting children through our nonprofit organisation Child Africa, with schools and education, as well as teaching “Honesty and integrity” in order to fight corruption for the long term. When you put all the above factors together, then we will not only yield better results than any charity, but it will also be sustainable, which is NOT the case in any charity.
EG: What can entrepreneurs learn from your bestselling book Social Entrepreneurship - The Better Globe Way?
RS: Well, we have spent 15 years in order to find out how to do it, and make all parts work well together, and to prove that my ideas from the book worked. I guess that the main “recipe” from the book tells the reader what we think is the best way of eradicating poverty and corruption in Africa and that we mean it is possible to do this, BUT only through social entrepreneurship. The book describes “The Better Globe Way” of social entrepreneurship, but there are many other ways to do this too.
EG: What advice do you have for sophisticated and professional investors who may be considering sustainable forestry as an asset class?
RS: It is important to understand that “Sustainable forestry” and “Sustainable forestry” are two different things, depending on what and how things are done. As an example, you might get sustainable forestry by planting Eucalyptus and pine trees in Africa, but in many African countries there is not a good market for these trees, hence not much profit. On the other side, when like Better Globe Forestry, is planting high quality mahogany trees with a huge market internationally and a plan to process the timber into products, hence good profit, which makes it sustainable too.
EG: How do you envision your contribution to ethical forestry and sustainable investments eventually ‘’Making Africa Great Again?’’
RS: It is actually our three-pronged approach of; 1. Massive tree planting, 2. Microfinance and 3. Children’s education, that gives the maximum synergy that will “Make Africa Great again.” However,
I will only be able to build a strong foundation myself and probably not live to see my vision come to fruition.
EG: Tell us more about Child Africa and your philanthropic endeavours in the educational sector?
RS: Unless children get education, no country will ever get out of poverty. Also, if corruption is going to be eradicated, only the children can do this, as the corrupt people today will not change. By building the character strong from early childhood, the children can be taught not to accept corruption when they grow up. Child Africa, which was started by my wife Julie and me in 1991, has been testing this theory for many years and we know that it works well. Our aim there is to make the children “Champions of Integrity” to fight corruption long term.
EG: What do you see on the horizon within the next 5 years for Better Globe Group?
RS: The next 5 years, we will be the world’s biggest tree planting company of mahogany trees. We will operate these 5 sales companies, which will finance the planting of 9 billion trees the next 25 years; betterglobe.com, trees4shopping.com, trees4realestate.com, trees4cars.com and trees4family.com
EG: You have been called the ‘Green Messiah of Africa’ with Better Globe Forestry being named one of the 20 Most Admired Companies in 2018. What is the secret to your success in business?
RS: I do not think there is a “secret” to success in any business, they are all well-known factors. But here are some of these factors to success, which are also mine; find something that you love to do, or you are good at, as it will generate energy for you. Give 100% focus over a long period. Do not start a business just to make money, as you will probably never be able to focus, because there will always be something else that looks easier, quicker and better to distract you. Try to do something for others, the “work” then becomes a highly rewarding hobby. Be a person known for your integrity, as you always need trust from other people. Always, under promise and over deliver, and keep your word, regardless. Last, but not least, find good people with the above criteria to work with, you cannot make it alone. EG
Have every person do their job right, the first time and every time.
Plan your work, THEN work your plan.
Chose a business with low supply and high demand and you will always make good profit.
>>Got patent in 12 countries on a “Grinding Machine for Gate valves” – “UNISLIP”
>>Built multi-national company Unislip AS in 13 years, with subsidiary companies in Norway, USA, UK, Germany and Japan and with agents in 20 countries. (70-80% of all nuclear power stations have Unislip today).
>>Started the NGO Child Africa in 1991, together with my wife Julie Solberg.
>>Trained approx. 150 companies to get certification to ISO 9000 series quality standards.
>>Written 12 books and given over 1000 seminars on Leadership, Quality, Sales and Motivation.
>>Started Better Globe Forestry in 2004 at 60 years, and will continue until I am 100 years old!
Rino Solberg is a renowned Norwegian businessman and inventor with patents in 12 countries. After building the multinational company Unislip in 13 years, with subsidiary companies in USA, Japan and Germany and representatives in over 20 countries, he sold the firm to retire early and dedicate his time to writing, personal development, and philanthropic endeavours. For further information about Better Globe Group, please visit: www.BetterGlobeGroup.com