David James is a man obsessed with creating value. A veritable futurist that has a track record in both identifying global issues, and creating solutions before they reach the global cognizance.
The finance professional turned entrepreneur began his career working as an investment banker out of Singapore. Similar to many bankers, David’s career began on solving issues related to clients’ balance sheets, restructuring debts, and weathering crises, such as the ASEAN financial crisis in the late 1990’s.
All too often, he found a marked reluctance amongst banks to lend to companies in certain countries. He was tasked with finding innovative ways for businesses in these markets to access credit facilities and other financial instruments without incurring any risk to the bank’s prudent lending practices.
In one of his many advances, David wrote one of Asia’s first weather-focused derivative products in an era before climate change had become part of the general vernacular.
Last week, Frontera’s Baldwin Berges spoke with David, who is now based out of Bangalore where he is focusing on bringing to market a solution to what could be a major global development: renewable and non-contaminated resources for construction material.
David explains in this must-listen podcast how wood obtained from trees for construction is no longer used as our ancestors once did. Rather, wood has become one of a number of materials – including polymers, resins and other extracts – that are melded into construction material for use in our homes and furniture. While these substances may be industrially efficient, they can leak into the environment causing a variety of concerns in areas such as water quality.
As emerging economies continue to experience voracious growth causing hundreds of millions to enter the middle class with demands for quality housing, offices, and storefronts, the global supply of wood-based construction materials could soon come under stress. In China and India – two of the world’s largest growth markets – the logging industry is already facing various headwinds.
In response, David and his company have developed a solution: a process combining a bio-polymer with commonly occurring agricultural waste to produce a natural solution via bio-mimicry that is environmentally-friendly, sustainable, and less pollutant.
The end result is just as high quality if not higher, than any other wood-based construction material presently in use. The process is replicable around the world and can be based off the agricultural waste of a variety of crops.
But what makes David’s company, ChloroEarth, particularly fascinating is that while they are building a business that certainly creates value for shareholders, they are equally determined to create value for rural communities.
This engagement starts with the initial sourcing of raw materials as the production process requires a steady supply of agriculture waste product. By purchasing these otherwise expendable materials from farmers under a profit sharing structure, the company can potentially provide rural farmers in emerging markets with a second income stream practically equivalent to that of an actual harvest. If you’re interested in how David’s ‘second harvest’ scheme works, it’s highly recommended to check out these two peer-reviewed and published pieces (here and here).
The World Bank estimates that agriculture accounts for 23% of GDP in Africa and 22% of GDP in Asia, and a much larger share in many individual emerging market countries. With the farming sector being such an important backbone of these economies, products such as Chloroearth can be a boon to those relying on incomes derived from the land, and potentially life-transformative for the communities involved.
As David continues along his revolutionary path towards less pollutant and more sustainable materials solutions, we’ll be following his story closely.
MORE ABOUT DAVID JAMES AND CHLOROEARTH
David takes us on a virtual tour of a prospective production facility in the north-east of India. This is the beauty of simple technology and connectivity at it’s best. The idea was to make potential investors more familiar with Chloroearth’s factory and production process without even having the leave the comfort of their office.
An interview with David at the Tech 30 showcase in October 2014. It was not an easy task for him to summarise his 10 years of work in a 90 second pitch, but these daily challenges have been part and parcel of David’s life now.