Next, they proposed creation of a “seed network,” in which farmers would be selected to serve as ambassadors to promote ROA locally and address cultural barriers to adoption. The third piece included a financial planning tool that farmers can use to project their finances through the transition from conventional to ROA, and a green bond to finance the transition.
“They stood out above the rest, in terms of the research they put into it,” Alex Kremer
, manager of corporate development at Patagonia, said at the company’s Poets & Quants blog
. “They had very diverse backgrounds, and they hit on a few key things that we thought were important. They took a regional approach, and realized they couldn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. You could tell they had done their homework.”
In addition to Pozza and Martin, the team included Nitesh Kumar
’17 M.B.A., the team leader and another member of last year’s Yale team, Nathan Hall
’17 M.E.M./M.B.A., Nikola Alexandre
’18 M.F./M.B.A., and Emily Oldfield
, a Ph.D. student at F&ES.
The Yale group was one of 68 teams to submit proposals. The competition is coordinated by Patagonia and the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business.
In addition to a $15,000 cash prize, the Yale team was invited to visit Patagonia’s offices in Ventura, Calif., where, after spending a morning surfing in the Pacific, the members repeated their presentation to company employees.
A key to their success was the interdisciplinary insights and experiences each individual brought, team members said. Hall, for instance, has spent eight years exploring ways to implement regenerative practices in the context of mining-impacted lands in Appalachia. Oldfield, meanwhile, brought an expertise in soil ecology.
“I think our team represented a really broad diversity of knowledge and experience that we were all able to bring together with the proposal,” said Oldfield. “Having no business background, it was really fascinating to learn about a specific green bond financing mechanism; and I hope the rest of the team learned about some of the nuances involved in managing for soil organic matter.”