AB InBev exec wants to create the world's largest green 'Shark Tank' to take on global sustainability challenges

Jack Taylor/Getty ImagesAB InBev’s accelerator program is working to support small farmers in Africa.
  • Beverage giant AB InBev is gearing up for the second year of 100+ Accelerator, an incubator program designed to help fund startups seeking global sustainability solutions.
  • “AB InBev is about accountability and we have huge assets,” Tony Milikin, chief sustainability and procurement officer at AB InBev, told Business Insider. “If we don’t act appropriately we won’t have that empowerment to keep on doing what we do.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

DAVOS, Switzerland – AB InBev knows that the future of the beverage industry is contingent on investing in sustainable solutions.

The company is preparing to debut its second year of 100+ Accelerator, an incubator for startups working to solve global sustainability issues. Tony Milikin, chief sustainability and procurement officer at AB InBev, told Business Insider his goal is to create the world’s biggest sustainability-focused accelerator, essentially like a green version of the popular television show “Shark Tank.”

“We want to create the ‘Shark Tank’ that has all these green funds, which are coming up and are big,” he said. “People like Larry Fink from [the investment company] BlackRock could get involved or a large network of high-net-worth celebrities that are really preaching about sustainability can come join us.”

In its first round, Milikin said, AB InBev received 700 proposals from entrepreneurs around the world, eventually narrowing down the group to 14 teams that later received contracts worth a total $US50 million.

“We believe the future is already here,” Milikin said. “We just don’t know where it is, so we need to crowdsource the world for these solutions.”

Milikin said he is particularly proud of BanQu, an accelerator company that developed a blockchain system to help small African farmers prove they are AB InBev suppliers, thus allowing them to open bank accounts and develop lines of credit. Working together with AB InBev, BanQu was able to create infrastructure to increase transparency for farmers in the supply chain.

“We know they are connected to us and we are responsible for them – their livelihoods, subsistence, getting out of poverty,” Milikin said of the farmers. “We have a responsibility as a community.”

Another favourite is Green Mining, a Brazilian recycling startup that brings post-consumer packaging back into the supply chain by diverting waste from landfills.

“AB InBev opened a window of opportunity for us to prove and execute our statement, our faith, our purpose,” Green Mining founder Rodrigo Oliveira told AB InBev previously. “When people wear ‘sustainability glasses,’ it’s possible to see many, many new opportunities of synergies and cost reduction that were [in the shadows] before.”

Now in its second year, the accelerator is currently accepting applications for its next round. Milikin said moving forward, he hopes other major corporations might join AB InBev in funding the startups.

“AB InBev is about accountability and we have huge assets,” he said. “If we don’t act appropriately we won’t have that empowerment to keep on doing what we do.”

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