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The cold call that changed Taking Root’s history

Taking Root’s 1st international partner visits Nicaraguan program
Words by Kahlil Baker

In early 2009, Taking Root was mostly just an idea rich in ambition but without financial backing.

I remember after one of my early pitches for start-up funding, the funder said:

“So let me get this straight. You want to give money to poor people to plant trees and then sell the clean air to companies. For this idea, you want start-up money from us?”

I replied:

“Yes! That’s exactly it. You totally got it.”

He said:

“Get the heck out of here.”

A new approach was needed.

So, we made a list of organizations across the world that funded carbon offsetting initiatives and tree planting programs. We ranked each organization based on how likely we thought they would be willing to support us.

We started cold calling them – starting with the least likely ones as practice. Obviously, organizations based in non-English and French speaking countries like Germany were considered the least likely. I even Google translated how to say “Hello. I don’t speak German. Do you speak English?”

One of the first calls was to an organization called PRIMAKLIMA.
Henriette answered the phone. I was petrified. She spoke English.
Much to my surprise, she didn’t hang up and genuinely sounded interested, but asked hard questions.

Many calls, e-mails and draft agreements later, we signed a USD $60,000 contract, a pivotal point in Taking Root’s history. Taking Root was in business. There was real money to do real things but more importantly, there was someone who believed in us.

That agreement made it much easier to sign future agreements with additional partners.

Every year since then, PRIMAKLIMA has supported Taking Root. Based on our methodology, the evidence that we provided and information from her network, Henriette fully trusted what we were doing (and didn’t feel the need to pollute by flying all the way to Nicaragua to verify our work).

But after 8 years of working together, 2017 became the year where Henriette felt Taking Root & PRIMAKLIMAcompelled to connect on the ground with the people and project she had been investing and working so closely with. This past June, Henriette (who happens to have a PhD in forest biometrics) spent two weeks visiting the project with the Taking Root team, inspecting the trees, meeting farmers and seeing first hand the impact on people’s lives and the environment.

“Visiting Taking Root’s project was very exciting and furthered our confidence in their work. It was amazing to see project staff and farmer’s the level of commitment to the project and how they are always eager to improve. The afforestation program fulfills the highest scientific standards and is perfectly managed and monitored.”

Not only is PRIMAKLIMA Taking Root’s first international partner, it is because Henriette believed in us when nobody else did that Taking Root exists today.

See pictures from the trip below:

Taking Root x PRIMA KLIMA

Taking Root x PRIMA KLIMA

Taking Root x PRIMA KLIMA

Taking Root x PRIMA KLIMA

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