First cohort of the MAR+Invest Acceleration Programme

Press Release 

May 31st, 2023

The MAR+Invest initiative, supported by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and implemented by an alliance of the following organizations: Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund), the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN)/Sureste Sostenible, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People (HRI) and New Ventures/VIWALA, is pleased to announce the selected projects for the first cohort of the Acceleration Programme, which aims to support the growth of businesses with a positive impact on the corals of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) and reef-dependent communities.

A total of 87 project applications were received. Out of these, 20 applicants were interviewed, and 15 projects were presented to the MAR+Invest Project Selection and Investment Committee, which carefully evaluated them and recommended 8 finalists, approved by the Steering Committee.

The selection criteria was based on the business model, the environmental and social positive impact on coral reefs and neighboring communities, as well as the capacity to address at least one of the main threats to the MAR, such as the lack of wastewater and solid waste treatment, overfishing, and climate change, with a focus on 18 coastal and marine protected areas (CMPAs) in the countries of the MAR.

MAR+Invest and its partners are pleased to announce the first cohort of the Acceleration Programme:

Aquosmic (Mexico): specializes in the use of satellite imagery for water quality assessment, with a focus on monitoring the biological components of aquaculture runoffs. By assessing factors like nutrient levels, pollutant concentrations, and harmful algal blooms, Aquosmic identifies water quality issues and supports the development of warning systems for proactive measures in the reef.

BioPlaster (Mexico): a company that directly removes sargassum from the ocean and uses it as raw material to create advanced materials, including biofertilizers, solid foam, thermoplastics, and other bio-components. By providing a biodegradable alternative to single-use plastics, the company contributes to the reduction of waste materials that ultimately reach the reef.

Natoure (Mexico): a sustainable tourism platform that connects responsible travelers, local communities, directors of natural protected areas, and managers of sustainable destinations. This emphasis on sustainability and community engagement has the potential to raise awareness about responsible tourism, reducing anthropogenic pressures and positively impacting the reef.

Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development SACD (Belize): is a non-governmental organization and co-manager partner for the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. It establishes and manages MPAs, promotes sustainable fishing practices, conducts coral reef monitoring, and operates eco-tourism expeditions. SACD plays a crucial role in protecting reefs and promoting local community well-being.

Tela Marine (Honduras): is the co-manager of the Tela Marine Wildlife Refuge operating multiple income-generating activities, including an aquarium, a restaurant, and diving tours. They also conduct educational workshops aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices and motivating local communities to embrace sustainable tourism alternatives, thereby promoting the conservation of the coastal marine resources.

Thalasso (Mexico): a company that is developing autonomous and remotely operated drone boats for collecting sargassum. They will utilize micro-biorefineries to transform the seaweed into valuable products like alginate, fucoidans, and other compounds for industrial use. Thalasso’s efforts in sargassum removal contribute to reef health and help mitigate associated risks.

The Chilam Group (Mexico and Belize): is an eco-tourism company that manages adventure travel and hospitality businesses with multiple MPAs, with a strong emphasis on sustainable practices and adopts regenerative schemes in collaboration with local communities. Their facilities in Xcalak are fully self-contained, equipped with systems to conserve freshwater, treat wastewater, and minimize solid waste. Additionally, they have a non-profit organization dedicated to coral restoration and have plans to implement a coral nursery.

Tobacco Caye Marine Station (Belize): is a research and study abroad center located within Belize’s Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. It offers immersive programs for learning about Caribbean marine ecology at the Belize Barrier Reef. Through their active research and monitoring, they generate valuable scientific knowledge to inform conservation strategies and sustainable management practices for coral reef protection.

Through the MAR+Invest Acceleration Programme, which will run from June to November 2023, the entrepreneurs will have access to tailored training, development of impact indicators and measurement systems, strategic partnerships, training in Environmental and Social Management Systems (ESMS), and access to financial solutions to boost their businesses.

MAR+Invest is pleased to work with and support these selected projects, contributing to their growth over the next few months.

For more information, please contact:

Graciela Suárez |
Amy Jones |

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