Education

I have a tree…!

 By Gabriella Galloro

The creativity of two young Italian fans of Farmville, the popular online game that simulates the life of farmers, has led to the creation of the Treedom project. The idea is simple: to choose online a tree to plant and follow its development  to ensure that the tree is actually planted by a real farmer somewhere in the world. An encounter of the real and virtual in a project that is both good for the environment and promotes micro-entrepreneurship. In just six years Treedom has changed the lives of 19,000 people and planted 280,000 new trees in different parts of the world…

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It was 2010 when, every day, 30 million people played a game simulating the life of a farmer called Farmville; among them there were also two Italian boys who, like many others, had fun breeding animals and using a credit card to plant virtual trees.

But unlike all the others, during yet another session of the game, Tommaso Speroni and Federico Garcea (who were just 24 and 29 years old, respectively) had the idea of combining the real and the virtual with fun to create a site where anyone can choose a tree to plant and follow online while, at the same time ensuring that an actual farmer actually plants the tree somewhere. Regardless of whether it is near or far, the important thing is that it is planted.

Shortly after Treedom was launched, the only e-commerce site for trees in the world that gives anyone the possibility to ensure that a new tree is planted and to follow it from their smartphone or PC. Five years have passed since the launch and this Made-in-Italy idea has come a long way, with over 250,000 trees planted, 52,000 users – individuals and businesses – the involvement of 17,500 farmers in Africa, Latin America and Italy, as well as B Corp certification.

Team Treedom

The success of Treedom is the result of having created an innovative service for its users and, at the same time, useful for its suppliers and the world as whole.

The innovation consists in associating a single tree with the user that has chosen to plant it and allowing them to interact with it. Each tree has an online page, is geo-located and photographed, can help the user to absorb the CO2 of his or her activities, can be stored or given as a gift to third parties virtually, all on a highly playful site. These are the characteristics that have made the Treedom tree a tool that engages and involves people and, as a result, a means of communication and marketing for companies such as Swatch, Coca Cola, H&M and Unilever.

The utility, meanwhile, lies in giving thousands of farmers the opportunity to be financed for planting fruit trees – which in time will provide nourishment and revenue opportunities – or trees useful for the local ecosystem, for example to combat desertification or to be replanted after deforestation. Moreover, all the trees are planted by farmers in countries or situations where they also have a social utility, such as in Kenya, to boost agricultural production, in Haiti in areas affected by the 2010 earthquake and in Southern Italy on land confiscated from the mafia.

By combining people’s desire to play games, companies’ marketing and communication objectives and the needs of farmers, the result is that today, thanks to Treedom, 250,000 more trees are growing, which helps to absorb the CO2 emitted by all of us and gives the planet a bit more oxygen.

From the kitchen table of the two founders the operational base has been moved to an open space at the foot of the hills overlooking Florence. The team has grown externally – from two to twenty people – and internally, thanks to the business experience gained by the founders and the value added by new team members.

Given the success achieved in Italy, the team’s goal now is to increase awareness of Treedom abroad and become an international brand, which is why an office has recently been opened in California, a strategic base for large numbers of eager investors willing to bet on the success of good ideas. And from that perspective Treedom definitely looks good.

Did you enjoy this story? Click here and plant your tree for free (it’s a gift from Eniday)…

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about the author
Gabriella Galloro