With $15 million in new funding, Sustainable Ocean Alliance hopes to support the class of climate-motivated founders that they call ‘ecopreneurs.’

Source: Sustainable Ocean Alliance/Youtube

Sustainable Ocean Alliance, or SOA, was founded in 2014 by Daniela Fernandez to find and accelerate 100 ocean-focused startups and projects. The non-profit aims to advocate for the “blue economy”. Fernandez was one of the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 and a member of the World Economic Forum Friends of Ocean Action.

The new $15 million in funding comes from several donors, most notably Marc and Lynne Benioff. The pair is notorious for their salesforce-derived philanthropy, and Benioff is the one who challenged Fernandez to accelerate 100 ocean-focused startups and projects back in 2019. The organization then doubled that and accelerated over 200.

Fernandez told TechCrunch that the funding would be immediately put towards their ocean-driven efforts.

“We’ve had so much demand, on the grassroots level and the for-profit level but with the limited resources we had, we had to be very selective in who we funded,” she said. “There is such a funding gap in this space — lots of funding going into research, but not into the seeding of these projects, empowering youth across the world, thinking how to disrupt and reengineer industry.”

Fernandez emphasizes that while efforts from large-bodied organizations like the U.N. are essential, it is also extremely important to help organizations that are starting from the ground up.

SOA believes that a few thousand dollars placed strategically in these organizations can be the thing that a passionate leader needs to take their organization to the next level. They have written hundreds of smaller checks but also will have the ability for larger checks through the new funding.

SOA isn’t stopping there. This is just the beginning of a goal to raise $100 million over the next three years, and this investment is a great start.

“We are absolutely looking for other investors and philanthropists to reach that $100 million goal,” Fernandez said. “We’ve got to make the ocean a priority. It’s the most underfunded of all the U.N. SDGs [sustainable development goals]. Here at the U.N. ocean conference, when a youth leader turned to a government leader and asked them what comes next, there was no tangible plan. There were apologies for what their generation has done but no concrete change they would hold themselves accountable to.”

To follow Sustainable Ocean Alliance and its mission, check out its website.

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