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Conserv in Partnership with Ahyayha, Inc. Launches Conservation Microfunding Platform

In response to needs identified through 2009-2010 projects, the Conserv Board of Directors facilitated the formation of a new venture in 2011 to stimulate voluntary demand for non-market and emerging market ecosystem services. The venture, called Ahyayha (Cherokee meaning “to hold in hand”) was chartered as one of Virginia’s first Benefit Corporations. The beta platform was launched Friday, October 12. Under the statute passed by the General Assembly in 2011, a “Benefit Corporation” must consider the impact of its business decisions not only on a financial bottom line but also on social and/or environmental benefits.

Ahyayha’s mission is to address our air, land, water, and biological assets “death by 1000 cuts” by knitting a quilt of restoration commerce around small restoration projects funded by the company. The concept is simple – commerce includes nature and our human economy – one cannot be restored without the other.  Therefore, in the long run, the health of local business is linked to the health of local environmental assets. Attempts to shortcircuit this relationship through infusions of cash from the federal government or from private philanthropic entities down to the local level, while noble, have proven difficult to sustain without continued infusion of this top-down financial support. This leads to poor cost effectiveness because of the necessary exclusion of market forces in this system.

Ahyayha is about bottom-up solutions. Ahyayha is about the collective impact of small projects done by people voluntarily finding ways to craft their own unique solutions to environmental degradation. Ahyayha is about generational effort that can be sustained because of a circle of benefits between landowners, store owners, and the community, which brings each party back for more.

Learn more about Ahyayha.


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