I met Michael Dwork at a fair that Columbia Business School holds for its MBA students who are budding entrepreneurs. The purpose is to meet mentors to help guide them through several business planning competitions they hold. We’ve kept in touch ever since.
What impressed me immediately about Michael is his gift for gab and his entrepreneurial instincts, which he wears like a coat of armor. Michael wanted to make a difference. He is doing that by being “true to the earth,” which in Latin is “veitas terra.” The root of this phrase inspired the name for his dishware company, VerTerra. Michael’s company makes disposable dishware from fallen palm tree leaves, which are steamed and pressed into shape. No chemicals, lacquers, glues or other toxins are used. The plates are biodegradable, compostable in 2 months and used for the official Tailgate Party of the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys in the greenest stadium ever built.
Challenges are the name of the game when you choose to produce your product in rural India. Things may not go as planned, but with a clear vision of environmental and social responsibility, Michael and his team definitely get where they are going. They achieve their goals by never cutting down trees, by reusing 80% of the water used in the steaming process and by creating 168 jobs paying a fair wage in rural India.