Shubhendu Sharma, The Afforestter

I met Shubhendu for the first time in 2012 when we wanted to get some trees planted and I was searching for a genuinely interested team. As he walked in to our office that afternoon, I could see the zing in his step, the excitement in his voice and his sincerity in telling us how serious he was about changing the world with a simple idea. 

Over the last two and a half years, Shubhendu and his firm Afforestt have scaled globally and have been recognized for their idea and the solution is well known. Though several accolades and awards came his way, you might still find him in his folded up soiled trousers sweating in the hot sun planting trees, which is his calling. So how can he say no when I call him for a chat and how can I not share his story with you. Here you go!


Hello Shubhendu. Welcome to Talk To Tiger.
Hello Tiger. Thank you for inviting me.
Where were you born? Tell me about your childhood.
Kashipur, Nanital Uttarakhand. My childhood was very exciting, I once drowned in a river, lost in a mela and all that fun.
What and where did you study?
I studied in a catholic convent from LKG to 8th Std and then in a Hindi medium Govt. School from 8th to 12th.
What were your dreams like when you were a kid?
I always wanted to be a mechanic and run a workshop or to be an engineer and work in a factory.
Tell me about your present idea?
Taken from here: Written by someone else
Every minute, the equivalent of 36 football fields of forest disappear globally, while 114 cars are produced. Shubhendu believes that we could live without cars, but we cannot survive without fresh air and natural resources. In contrast to many others, he is convinced that the damage that has been done to our environment is not irrevocable; it is possible to reverse the trend by simply recreating the forests that used to naturally grow there before. This solution requires a minimum amount of care, commitment and knowledge. With Afforestt, Shubhendu turns the unaffordable ambition of growing wild urban forests into an accessible reality.

Shubhendu works with different stakeholders to convert empty urban and peri-urban spaces into natural forests (with spaces starting as small as from 100 sq mt of land).  He utilizes a unique triangle of resources – free saplings from the Forest Department, investments from the District Collector, and manpower for the planting and maintaining the forests from the municipal corporation towards achieving this. Shubhendu works on any space – from road dividers, lawns and gardens in office or housing complexes, traffic triangles, sides of highways, and other urban and peri-urban spaces that are currently lying empty. This not only reduces his costs, but also influences the mind-sets of local government to better understand environmental issues and sustainable urban development. To accelerate impact and make the process sustainable, he uses the Miyawaki method of afforestation, a technique that makes trees grow 10 times faster than in nature, creating a self-sustaining forest within 2 to 3 years.
Going forward, Shubhendu plans to maximize his impact by targeting government and large real estate projects, in India and abroad.
What is the story behind naming your service – ‘Afforestt‘?
1)        My home is very close to Jim Corbett National Park and initially I wanted to name the company ‘Corbett’.
2)        Then I wanted to name the company in such a way that speaks about our work, so “Afforestt, does afforestation”.
3)        The two kanji characters (replacing tt)  in our logo means ‘forest’ in Japanese, it’s our tribute to Dr. Miyawaki and Japan to bring us the power to bring back the forests.
 
What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
30 times more greenery for every unit area. 10 times faster growth rate, i.e. a 100 years old forest in just 10 years. 100% organic. 100% native. maintenance free, zero water requirement after 3 years. 100 times more bio diverse: 50-100 different species of trees.
Tell me your best experience after you started.
TED fellowship! Ashoka fellowship, INK fellowship.


Can you share the turnover/clients till date?
34 Clients, pan India presence. 4 countries. We are just warming up.
What are your plans for the future? Say next five years?
afforestt.org developing a software for sharing our methodology easily.
Tell me about your family/pets…
Did you meet KutKut the cat?


 
A quote/book that influenced you
Book: Shantaram
Be the change you wish to see in the world: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
 
You can mail Shubhendu here <info@afforestt.com>.
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