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How much do the trees and the donation packages cost?
A tree costs 17 euros and a donation package costs 53 euros.
Am I tied into a monthly subscription?
No, you're not. You choose whether you want to purchase trees, donation packages or a combination of trees and donation packages. You choose if you want to make your purchase as a once off, on several occasions or by monthly savings.
You can cancel your membership at any time even if you have chosen monthly savings. You can do this easily by logging on to the website and changing your settings for purchases of trees and donation packages. You are also welcome to contact us for assistance.
Thus, it is entirely up to you whether you want to purchase trees, donation packages, or both. Furthermore, it is up to you how many you buy and how often you make your purchases.
You have 14 days right of withdrawal, if you change your mind after a purchase. In this case, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you with it.
Is it possible to purchase trees through my company?
Both individuals (physical persons) and companies (legal entities) are accepted as customers.
In addition to private customers, we have several corporate customers who have purchased trees for many years. Our recommendation is that companies post trees as a long-term asset (fixed asset). A 13XX account must be selected in the BAS chart of accounts. We can help you to get in touch with an accounting firm that can explain it in detail. Please contact our customer services for further contact information.
How does Better Globe protect my personal details and purchase information?
To provide our customers with a secure management of credit or debit card details, we use a provider that is certified for third party-solutions for customers in different parts of the world. This means that we do not collect this type of information in our databases. We only have reference numbers for the cards that the customer has registered with us. The reference numbers are used when the customer who has a registered card makes a manual repurchase of our products. They are also used in the monthly savings through automated charges.
The information that customers provide, for example, their address and phone number, is saved and logged. This means that if the information is changed on an account, both the new and the old information can be generated afterwards.
We have dedicated servers and take regular backups of the databases.
What if I, as tree owner, die?
If you die, your trees will become one of the assets in your estate. They will be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate in accordance with legislation.
You can also bequeath your trees if you like. The law will decide whether your wishes will be followed, regarding heirs.
It is always an advantage for your beneficiaries if your assets are documented in an easily accessible way, like a will.
Each tree is owned for a 20-year period. The customer's AID-codes (customer number) are used to get information about the trees a person owns. Thus, it is an advantage if this information is available for the surviving relatives. Every tree owner has a login on our website. You can find an overview of the purchased trees there. It forms the basis for the valuation of the assets. A person with multiple AID tags, has one login per code.
Better Globe AS must receive a death certificate to be able to transfer the ownership of the trees to the person that inherits. Name, email address and telephone number of the heir is also needed. If there are several heirs, then they will own the deceased's trees together. We cannot split an account into multiple accounts.
Why doesn't Better Globe have a Swedish 90-account?
A 90-account is a PlusGiro or Bankgiro account starting with the digits 90. These accounts are granted to charitable organizations that engage in public collections.
Our vision is to eradicate poverty and corruption by establishing and running plantations that create jobs, to collaborate with farmers and provide grants for schools, microfinance and increased access to water. To meet this vision in the most effective and sustainable way possible, we have chosen a business format rather than charity. The business aims to continue to expand in scope over time while charity in many cases has the character of one-off measures.
Better Globe is not a charity and has therefore no 90-account.
Where does the return come from?
Better Globe Forestry is running a business. Essentially, it is the sale of the crops, processed crops and the timber harvest from the plantations that provide profits. We also deal with seeds from trees. Soon we will operate our own sawmills. The company has a number of additional sources of income, in addition to this.
Can Better Globe guarantee a return?
No. We cannot guarantee a return and all returns are therefore estimated. The estimations are based on both the income and expenses that to a great extent are known at present. For example, we can with great certainty calculate labor costs, machinery and other expenses, as well as the revenue from what we sell.
We also feel that we, after over 10 years of business, can make reliable predictions and have a good knowledge about the risks. We have thus far, been able to minimize risks and prevent anything that could jeopardize our ability to keep our promises.
Has Better Globe paid out any returns to tree buyers?
The first year we paid out a return was 2010. It was for trees that were sold to the first customers, in 2006. In 2011 we paid out returns for the trees sold in 2006 and 2007. And so it has continued, which means we in 2017 paid out returns on trees that were sold between 2006 and 2013.
How are my Better Globe trees taxed?
You pay taxes according to the laws in force in the country where you pay tax.
In Sweden, for example, property is not taxed. This means that you are not liable to pay tax on owning the asset. The return is, on the other hand, subject to tax. It is normally considered as a return on equity. The tax rate in Sweden for capital gains is 30 percent.
When you get a return on your tree, the amount is deposited in a so-called Better Globe account. In order to use this money, you need to actively request that the amount in the Better Globe account be transferred to your bank account.
Please note that you will be liable to pay tax on the return when Better Globe deposit the amount in your Better Globe account. The time you choose to transfer the money to a regular bank account does not affect when your tax liability begins.
Suppose we credit your return to your Better Globe account in December 2017. Whether you transfer the money to your bank account directly in December 2017 or in January 2018 is irrelevant. You should disclose your return as a return on equity when you, in the spring of 2018, fill out your tax return for 2017.
Returns on trees owned by corporations are usually taxed differently. We recommend that you consult your accountant or tax lawyer, to know what applies to your business. We have several corporate customers who have been purchasing trees for many years. They have already begun to receive a return. Taxation does not give rise to problems but policies vary depending on, among other things, the way the company is set up.
What is best: owning trees via a company or privately?
As an individual, you can buy trees and donation packages. If you have a business, or decide to start a company, you can choose to make the purchases through your company. In the first case, you become a direct owner and in the second case you own the trees through the company.
What type of ownership is most favourable from an economic perspective depends on how you plan to use the the return.
The return on trees owned by an individual is taxed as an income from capital or investments. This means that 30 percent of the profit you get on the trees is payable as tax. That is lower than if you as an individual want to withdraw the return on trees owned by your company.
A company typically pays 22 percent tax on the return that the trees are generating. It will be taxed again if the profit is paid out to you as the business owner. The amount depends on how you choose the payment to be made. This option is less profitable than direct ownership.
The situation is different if you intend to buy trees and donation packages through your company to keep the trees' return in the company. In this case, it is more profitable to own the trees through the company because the tax rate is lower for the company than for you.
You can get help from our customer services, if you want to have contact with an accounting firm that can explain this in more detail.
In which countries does Better Globe operate?
By the year 2017 we had established plantations and started collaborations with farmers in various locations in Kenya. There are advanced plans to start planting trees in Uganda during 2018 and we hope to be able to establish operations in Tanzania in the coming years.
We contribute to the funding of schools through the NGO Child Africa and they are already active in both Uganda and Kenya.
Which GPS coordinates should I use, if I want to see Better Globe's plantations on Google Earth?
Here are some suggestions of places that you can see using Google Earth or Google Maps:
Mboti Primary School
GPS: -0.738638° S 38.436699° E or -0° 44′ 19.10″, +38° 26′ 12.12″
The Kiambere plantation
GPS: 0.691755° S 37.912830° E or -0° 41′ 30.32″, +37° 54′ 46.19″
Kibwezi Mukuyu Farm
GPS: 2.375481° S 38.076478° E or -2° 22′ 31.73″, +38° 4′ 35.32″
The Nyongoro plantation
GPS: -2.330086° S, 40.323278° E or -2° 19′ 48.31″, +40° 19′ 23.80″
How many trees are planted on a hectare of land?
We have to take into account a number of parameters, when we decide how closely our trees should be planted on our plantations. Sometime it's due to the needs of different species.
To get an idea of how closely the trees are planted we often go by the number of trees per hectare. We plant between 625 and 1,000 trees per hectare.
A hectare is 10 000 square meters. To get an idea of how big a hectare is, it may be easier to imagine a square of 100 metres times 100 meters.
Is the cultivation organic?
We aim that all our cultivation of trees should be organic. However, we can unfortunately at present not classify all the farming activities that take place on our plantations, and in collaboration with farmers, as organic.
Do you use chemical fertilizers or organic matter for fertilization?
The type of fertilizer used varies depending on the conditions that exist in each specific plantation and of each individual farmer. This means that in addition to organic matter and beneficial bacterial cultures, chemical fertilizers are also used.
Does Better Globe have any ISO certification?
In Better Globe's forestry we work according to quality management systems as specified in ISO 9001 and environmental management systems as specified in ISO 14001. We have sound knowledge of management systems according to ISO in the organization. Rino Solberg, the founder and leader of Better Globe, has previously worked with ISO consulting. He has helped more than 150 companies to become ISO-certified.
Management systems according to ISO have been built into our business from the start in 2006. We work with the systematics, and comply with the requirements, that the standards prescribe. We have so far chosen not to apply to be certified. We have the benefits that the standard provides. The certification incurrs costs. So far we have decided that the cost is higher than the value of the additional benefits a certification would entail. This decision is reviewed on a regular basis. The certification could be relevant in the future, as the business expands.
What is, and what does an ambassador for Better Globe do?
Some of our customers choose to become ambassadors for our business, our brand, and our company. Customers who share our vision and our ideas of how we can contribute to sustainable social and environmental improvements. They also have a desire to share the opportunities to do good for others, for the environment and for themselves.
Recommendations from existing customers means powerful marketing for a company. We've created a bonus system for customers that help us to spread the information about our business and to gain new customers. You receive the reward of one donation package a month if you refer six new customers who purchase monthly donation packages, whether you choose to become an ambassador or not. Read more about recommending Better Globe here »
You have the opportunity to become an ambassador if you want to acquire new customers for Better Globe professionally. You will then receive compensation from Better Globe per each tree sold. Contact your ambassador for more information or read more here »
Is Better Globe a charity?
We run our business with the goal of eradicating poverty and corruption. Our belief is that to achieve improvements in areas with pronounced poverty, a long-term business that is not dependent on grants is required. We also believe that it is good for people to get help to help themselves improve their situation and that this approach is the most sustainable in the long run.
Besides our business activities, we also carry out some charity work by supporting the construction and operation of schools, water supplies and microfinance activities.
We are not a charity. However, within the framework of our business, we carry out a lot of charitable work.
How much of a donation package goes to charity?
A donation package costs €53. Out of this, €19 goes to charity. The remaining €34 covers the costs of the two trees that become yours and that will yield you a return from years 5 to 20.
The charitable effects resulting from each donation package are:
Two trees are donated to a local organization that will receive the returns.
Contributions equivalent to 500 litres of water. It can be clean water, water equipment or drilling of wells.
€1,50 goes to constructing new, or renovating existing schools, adjacent to the plantations.
€1,50 goes to microlending.
Does €1,50 to school and microlending really make a difference?
Yes, it really makes a difference! When you buy a donation package €1,50 is allocated to building or renovating schools. An additional €1,50 is allocated to fund local microfinance institutions. It makes a big difference when many people regularly buy donation packages.
The sum of €1,50 from the donation packages we have sold has been enough for several school projects. The more donation packages we sell the faster the number of children who get to go to school will increase. The money collected for microfinance has already resulted in successfully growing microfinance activities with several thousand borrowers and another bank, in another area, is in the start-up phase. The money lent has given borrowers access to better living conditions. When the money is returned, it can then be lent out again and help other people to lift themselves out of poverty.
Microloans were criticized in an episode of the Swedish television program Uppdrag Granskning. What is your stand on this?
Microlending is a tool that together with other tools can be used in the fight against poverty. This tool can be designed and used in many different ways. The microloan business that Better Globe supports is based on a few key principles. These principles, we believe to be necessary for the tool to contribute to reducing poverty.
The interest rate must not be so high that it puts the borrower in a situation where he or she can not pay it. Interest rates must take into account that the loan will be used for something that helps the borrower to improve their financial situation permanently. The borrower should be able to pay the interest without jeopardizing the intended use of the borrowed money. The microloans mentioned in the television program Uppdrag Granskning had interest rates between 40 and 125 percent. The way we look at it, these rates counteract the entire purpose of the tool.
Microloans are never granted to cover living expenses and other consumption. The purpose of the loan is to make a change possible by helping the borrower out of poverty. Consumption does not lead to an improved economy in the future. This means that loans granted for consumption helps to put the borrower in a debt trap instead of an improved ability to support themselves and their family.
Microcredit operations are not for profit. The money lent has been donated by our customers through donation packages. Once a borrower has borrowed money over a period, the money is returned. The money can then be lent to the next person. The operations increases only in scope with the money provided from donation packages. There are no owners that require a return. The goal of the microlending is to be able to lend money, get the money back again, cover possible credit losses and then lend the money again. The interest rate to achieve this is about 10 percent yearly.
We provide education to further enhance the ability of borrowers to make the most of the loans.
Since the microlending we support comply with the principles set out above, they differ markedly from the example that Uppdrag Granskning highlighted. Many practices received justified criticizism in the program.
What interest rates does Better Globe use for their microloans?
The money used to fund the microlending has been donated by our customers through the donation packages. We donate money to local organizations that start and run microloan institutions. This means that it is not we who lend money or receive interest income from loans.
In order to sustain the business operations and be able to lend money, get the money back again, cover possible credit losses and then lend the money again, the microlending rates typically amount to about 10 percent.
Does Better Globe make money off the poor in Africa?
We make money though forestry. Through our activities, we are able to offer locals salaried work with good terms of employment, good health care and the training needed for the job. In addition, we improve the situation by safeguarding the water supplies, contributing to schools for the children and giving microlending opportunities. Our vision is to eradicate poverty and corruption. Our means to achieve that is forestry. Through this, we achieve a win-win-win situation. The answer is thus: No, we do not make money off the poor in Africa.
What are your views on "landgrabbing"?
Landgrabbing is a major issue worldwide. It hits poor countries and poor individuals the hardest. We are totally against this phenomenon. Unfortunately, it is difficult for poor people with few resources to resist financially strong organizations. It is not uncommon for multinational companies to exploit the situation by making agreements with the poor countries' governments, resulting in the country's inhabitants being forced to surrender their land.
This is one of many reasons why our business is important. Through a lively local trade, which also attracts other businesses, individuals and communities are strengthened to get out of poverty. The risk of getting into dependency is therefore reduced. We also help by not buying their land, neither by undercutting or at reasonable prices. Furthermore, we provide employment opportunities, contribute to schools, water supplies and lots of other things. We establish plantations in the semi-desert that is considered to be unusable, and help farmers with diversification by offering farming contracts.
We need your help in contributing to put an end to landgrabbing. The more trees and donation packages we sell, the more we can expand our business, and thus support a larger portion of the population in poor parts of Africa to stand up against landgrabbing.
Have you taken into account the groundwater level when drilling for water?
Yes, these questions are also monitored by the NEMA (National Environment Management Authority), which needs to give its approval before we can get permission to drill for water.
Drilling for water has not proven as effective as we would have liked. We usually use collection methods and other ways to collect water.
What if my tree is harmed by insects or fire?
We offer you the opportunity to buy trees that you own for 20 years. Of the total number of trees we plant, each customer owns the number that the customer purchased. We plant about twice as many trees as we sell.
You do not own a specific tree when buying a tree from us. To own specific tree would mean an increased risk for you as a customer. The risk may be that the tree is attacked by insects or fire. We have several strategies to minimize the risks in our business and for our customers.
To minimize the risks for our customers
• we plant at least twice as many trees as we sell
• no customer owns a specific tree
• we have extensive experience with the tree species we grow
• we have plantations at different locations
• the trees are planted in a way to keep the risk of fire spreading to a minimum.
What happens if there is extreme drought or crop failure?
We are specialized in conducting forestry in the kind of climate and terrain our plantations are located in. We know this kind of forestry and we have collected a lot of experience. A lot can happen, but we consider ourselves to be well equipped. The species we work with grow naturally in this environment. As an additional measure, we have spread our plantations geographically so that any disruptions can be limited.
Africa is politically unstable. What happens if there is a shift in power?
We only establish our business in politically stable regions. Anything can, of course, happen hypothetically. Africa is generally not more unstable than many other places in the world. We establish ourselves in countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, where stability has been good for a long time. More countries in Africa are evolving toward greater stability. Our aim is to contribute to a continued positive development.
What happens if the price of lumber falls?
If the price of lumber falls, our revenue for a given amount of timber will be reduced. This is something we need to take into account in our financial calculations. We periodically calculate what the impact would be on our profit if the price of lumber would change. We must also take into account the costs of developing our business, as we calculate how our profits are affected by a fall in prices. Our methods have developed over time, which we have taken advantage of so far, in order to expand our business. We plan to continue doing that.
The agreements that already exist regarding our trees will not be affected by any price reductions for lumber. This means that the return on trees already sold is not affected even though we would have to change the rate of returns for the trees that are sold in the future.
We consider it quite unlikely that the price of lumber would drop. We base this view on the imbalance in the world between the supply and demand for lumber at present. We do not have sufficient amounts of this resource. The likelihood that the shortage of wood will decrease is very small considering how the forests has declined in the past 60 years.
What does the price trend of timber/wood look like?
We continuously follow the ITTO market reports and analyses, although their reports do not specifically follow the Mukau tree which is the species that we plant. Mukau is actually of better quality than the American mahogany that they report on, and market analyses are to our advantage. According to ITTO the price (Export sawnwood prices) for Kiln Dried Mahogany was 665 euros per cubic meter by the end of 2009. By the end of 2016, the price was more than 1,000 euro per cubic meter, an increase of about 50 percent.
Our mahogany species called Mukau also has significantly better quality than "African mahogany". A full tree of "African mahogany" gives about 0.35 cubic meters of wood worth about 330 euros (2016), which more than well covers the 170 euros to be paid after 20 years.
In addition, we do not believe that the prices for mahogany will stand still for the next 20 years, but even if they would, then there's enough of a margin to cover the commitments we have made. We therefore consider that the market risk is minimal.
What if the euro collapses?
If the euro collapses, it has a very small impact from the point of view of tree owners since the return is dependent on that we sell our products on the world market, where you get paid in the currency that is most viable at the moment. This means that we, if the situation requires it, will fulfil our commitments in other currencies such as dollar, pound sterling or any other currency.
What does Better Globe's "figures" look like?
The Norwegian company is governed by Norwegian company law, which means that you can get an annual report each year. You can look for yourself at the records held at the Norwegian Companies Registration Office by clicking here. The figures are also available through the Norwegian website proff.no which helps people to check a company's finances. Our company registration number is 992593148.
What if Better Globe goes bankrupt?
As a customer in Better Globe, you already have a document that shows that you own a certain number of trees purchased during a certain year. Our forestry company Better Globe Forestry Ltd. in Kenya, has however, on its own initiative, together with a lawyer, drawn up a letter that allows Better Globe's tree owners to claim their property rights to the trees in the unlikely event that the company should go bankrupt. A company without liabilities, however, runs little risk of bankruptcy, and our policy is to have no liabilities and that our assets at all times should cover our commitments.
How do I know that you in Better Globe do what you say you do?
You don't, but we have arranged a number of trips to Africa for our customers since 2008. About 20 customers participated in each such trip to see what we do, how we do it, and to discover Africa. Some of the customers who have been on our trips come home wanting to show pictures, videos and tell all about the trip at different meetings and seminars. You can also follow along on the next customer trip that we organize to see and experience what we are doing and to form your own opinion and experience. There you also have the opportunity to get all your questions answered directly by our experts working in the area.
Are the Better Globe trees insured in any way?
We have investigated the possibility of insuring trees. It is possible to insure trees, but the suggested insurance premiums we have been quoted are so high that it is not commercially or economically viable to insure the trees. An insurance would also only cover the purchase price, which still wouldn't be enough for our customers.
We therefore work actively to reduce risks in a variety of ways; we have plantations scattered in different geographic locations, we are continuously working to improve the quality of the seedlings that we put into the ground, we have good margins on everything we do. At the same time, we have an ambition for the near future, to plant twice as many trees as have been sold in order to ensure as far as possible that we can keep our promises no matter what happens to a single tree.
What are the risks? For example, timber prices, a collapse of the euro, the company going bankrupt, death of an employee, etc.
It is obvious that there are risks and we are working hard to mitigate and minimize these risks. We discussed the timber price in a question above; a collapse of the euro would have very little effect because we can disburse the proceeds in a different currency, if needed. The risk of a company without debts going bankrupt is small, but it does not matter because the trees are owned by the people who bought them. Please also see the answer to the question below. All employees will sooner or later retire, leave the company or die, but new employees can be hired as in any other company.
What happens if the trees are stolen from the plantations?
So far, no trees have been stolen from our plantations and this has not been a problem. We have guards around the clock (mainly for the protection from animals). Furthermore, our employees live on the plantation and would be the first to discover such an attempt. The people around the plantation are also well aware that it is in their interest to protect the forestry and what our business does for the local population. Contractors will also ensure that no one steals the trees to protect their own share of the profits. Additionally each contractor has their own agroforestry consultant that checks the trees continuously. Better Globe Forestry is responsible for repayment for all trees that our customers have bought, stolen or not.
Do I need to send an invoice to get my return?
No. This incorrect information is unfortunately spread online. As a customer, you do not need to send an invoice to get your return. All you need to do is log in to your Better Globe account, enter your bank account details and request a transfer. Better Globe takes an administration fee of between €5 and €10 needed to cover transaction costs, regardless of the amount withdrawn.
Only our ambassadors need to send invoices for payment of commision, as work performed is taxed differently from returns in most countries.
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