I am working on Ejido Verde,  a regenerative economy business working with indigenous communities in Michoacan state in Mexico . I am helping my long time friend Shaun Paul, whose work with indigenous focused social enterprises and investment I have admired for years,  figure out how to tell the story to investors and partners.

I’m pretty jazzed about it. While I was there recently, we struck a deal with the indigenous community of Patamban (video) (they hold their land in common) that will increase the income of the people we hire 5x over subsistence farming.

We are providing livelihoods for 12,000 people with permanent jobs throughout the 12,000 hectare project. It should  bring in $49 million over 30 years to the six thousand people in Patamban, who are very poor, and should provide them income to let people move back home from the United States. The 12,000 hectares (a hectare is about two acres)  will sequester more than six million tons of carbon, increase ground water retention and quality and other ecosystem services. They are already seeing more coyotes and deer and hearing more birds in 2,400 hectares we have already planted. We don’t have to market the product; there is overwhelming demand by local resin refineries owned by a local family that has had a trusted relationship with local indigenous communities for more than  80 years.

Overall, indigenous communities should make $1billion for tapping the resin of their pine trees on 12,000 hectares over 30 years. Tapping resin is something they’ve done for thousands of years, but we are expanding production per acre ten fold of several varieties of local pine, while intercropping with local medicinals like Arnica and blueberries. The project will help retain community identity, languages and knowledge. We think it will bring prosperity, hope and safety.

I don’t think there is another industrial commodity supply chain where the indigenous communities retain ownership of the resource and make such a fair share of the income; with coffee, chocolate and quinoa you have to build a brand to extract a premium. This is simpler and easier but does the same thing; pays the community a fair price for the value of their renewable resource. This method is replicable anywhere there is subsistence farming, degraded but not eroded land that is owned publicly or by communities that have good governance; places like Mozambique and other places in East and Southern Africa.  The video is only about three minutes long.