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Earth Day 2020: A story about social impact, direct from the farm


Published on April 22, 2020


“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

I believe this quote so beautifully captures the responsibility companies like Microsoft have today, and every day, to protect this place that we call home. From reducing our carbon footprints to preserving and protecting the biodiversity and health of the world’s ecosystems, there are many steps we can take to safeguard our planet for generations to come.

But I also believe a growing population of social entrepreneurs, driven by a mission for positive change, can offer us new ways of solving these challenges that we can learn from and support. I love hearing stories about how this ingenuity and innovation is thriving in local communities around the world – how individual entrepreneurs whose ideas, vision and optimism are being scaled through technology and benefiting the world around us.

To me, they are the true heroes of Journée de la Terre.

The best & brightest: Meet Fabrice

One of these entrepreneurs is Fabrice Hégron, whom I first learned about earlier this year.

The sustainable dairy farm, reimagined

After Fabrice took over the family farm with his brother in 2005, they knew that there was a better – and more sustainable – way of doing business. One that didn’t lead to the sacrifices, financial difficulties and isolation he saw in the lives of his parents and other farmers. And more importantly, a way that would empower their fellow farmers in France and help others begin adopting more sustainable production methods.

This empathy and determination led Fabrice to co-found En Direct Des Eleveurs (EDDE), or “Directly from the Dairy Farmer.” EDDE is a collective of dairy farms in France who are working together to bring sustainably produced dairy products directly to local grocery stores through technology like AI and machine learning, with the goals of offering quality milk to consumers, reducing carbon emissions, and improving farmer incomes.

Powering the next generation with optimism & hope

While the local impact is incredible, organisations like EDDE and many others have an even greater opportunity to effect positive change if they can connect to the right resources. This is why we launched the Global Social Entrepreneurship Program earlier this year, and why we partner with social good accelerators like Ashoka – to give more start-ups access to the technology, education, customers, and grants they need to scale their best and brightest ideas.

But the most powerful tool we all have? The persistent belief that we can build a better world for everyone, together.

I hope you find as much inspiration in Fabrice’s story as I have this Earth Day. I want to sincerely thank Fabrice, his brother and the many other social entrepreneurs like them from the bottom of my heart, as well as our partners Accenture, ShareIt, Cellenza, and Ashoka.

It is through their hard work every day that we will not only survive, but truly protect our planet for future generations.