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  • Shiba Kurian

Enviu’s venture-building power is now available to the market: Meet Powered By Enviu

Updated: Feb 14

Michiel Elich and Ankie van Wersch-Lenders have stepped aside as the MDs of Enviu, to spearhead the foundation’s new as-a-service innovation agency — Powered By Enviu.

About 1.5 years ago, a global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company asked Enviu a question: “Can you help us?” At the time, the FMCG brand partnered with Enviu’s Zero Waste Living Lab (ZWLL) program in Southeast Asia. However, the company had a problem, specifically in Africa: They did not have a collection model for the huge packaging waste of their small, single-portion products. These packages, often multi-layered and light, were hard to collect and recycle in a viable way, and hence were discarded. Having worked with Enviu, the FMCG company was aware of the venture-building studio’s work on innovative zero-waste models, such as Koinpack and Allas. The brand asked Enviu, “Can you create one or more standalone business models to solve this?”

In the end, unfortunately, the project did not take off due to strategic reasons and other priorities within the company. But that single question gave Enviu’s Manager Directors Michiel Elich and Ankie van Wersch-Lenders the spark of an idea:

“What if we would use our venturing expertise at Enviu to support other organizations too?”

While they let the idea hibernate, Michiel and Ankie continued receiving similar queries from other organizations and institutions. All such queries had a compelling narrative: ‘We have a fundamental sustainability challenge, but don't know how to solve viably. We have the responsibility, and are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, we don't know how to make it happen.

Michiel and Ankie saw the opportunity from this conundrum:

Enviu can accelerate its impact by supporting organizations to go from negative to positive societal impact. The goal is to combine the entrepreneurial power of an impact venture studio with the powerful resources and scale of large organizations.

And so, the two entrepreneurs decided to hand on the (Enviu Foundation) baton to a new management team, and start their next journey: Powered By Enviu.

Powered by Enviu is the as-a-service arm of Enviu Group. It is the go-to partner for forward-thinking organizations to design and build truly sustainable business models and realize future-proof products and services. Armed with 20+ years of experience in strategy and transformation consultancy, Michiel and Ankie will spearhead this new agency to replicate Enviu’s work for other organizations.

As they step aside as the Managing Directors of Enviu Foundation, the new management team — comprising Paul van der Linden, Dieuwertje Nelissen, and Patricia Mulder — will advance Enviu’s venture-building studio.


Michiel and Ankie spoke at length about the story of Powered By Enviu, how they will function, what necessitated the new agency, and how they will contribute to organizations.

What is Powered by Enviu’s story?

Enviu's venture-building studio has always focused on its own programs, deciding what problems need interventions, setting up ventures to address them, and creating a collective impact. At the same time, over the past two years, we also saw ourselves working with other organizations and organizations looking for similar innovative and disruptive solutions to grow and realize their own mission. Eventually, we realized it is time — an excellent ‘next step’ for Enviu — where we can help such organizations towards new future-proof models with positive impact.

Were there moments of doubt and skepticism about setting up Powered By Enviu? If yes, what influenced your decision?

There was no doubt about starting this agency as there is clearly an enormous need and urgency for the market to transition to a circular economy. We were confident that organizations could consult and tap into our experiential knowledge. However, we did ask ourselves a question: Is that a role we want to play as Enviu?

There were both internal and external factors that influenced our decision. From an external perspective, there is a huge challenge and market pressure to realize the SDG commitments. So the market is a hive of activities to fulfil these goals. However, truly fundamental and breakthrough action is limited, and in the meantime, climate change is only getting worse. Several organizations have the will to take the right action but are struggling. If we can help them to break through this situation, that would be a real impact catalyzer.

From an internal perspective, we have built a strong team and organization to continue and advance the foundation's growth. This gave us the room and space to step into Powered by Enviu.

How does sustainability transition translate to profitability for organizations?

Often, the climate crisis is being seen as an additional threat to businesses today, forcing many organizations to redefine business literature. However, aligning their core business model to the dynamic circumstances is not a burden but an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity for organizations to be the first mover in standardizing a business practice. It’s an opportunity to be the frontrunner when consumers are moving towards environment-friendly alternatives. It’s an opportunity to trigger an action and stake a claim to a bigger market share.

Therefore, with PbyE taking on the risks and advising, organizations can now focus on driving positive effects in the market.

Who is your target audience?

We are targeting organizations and institutions across industries with the intrinsic intention to innovate towards a future-proof value chain, and build a business with a positive impact, the willingness and commitment to reverse the negative impact their businesses have been inadvertently inflicting on the planet and the people.

Powered By Enviu is a spin-off of Enviu, and follows the same methodologies established by the foundation. How is the agency different from Enviu?

The main distinction is for whom we are creating solutions, and who is deciding the problem. Is Enviu Foundation identifying a problem and building a relevant program to solve this, or are we helping someone else solve their problem? As mentioned, Enviu Foundation builds ventures by focusing on specific problems that catalyze markets and systems to change.

Powered by Enviu, on the other hand, is a new offering that brings Enviu's knowledge, skills, methodology, and team into other forward-thinking organizations to support their transition to circular models and a (net) positive impact. That is the power we are offering.

As entrepreneurs with decades of experience, what excites you about the new agency?


"Personally, I am excited to see what will happen if we can apply all the lessons, failures, methodology, and experience we have gathered in 19 years of venturing with Enviu Foundation, and put them to use for organizations that have the power to bring solutions to scale. It could really move the needle in the market."


"Combining the innovative and entrepreneurial ingredients of Enviu with the scaling capacity of corporates could be the perfect recipe for changing our economy to a people- and planet-positive one. And I am really looking forward to that process."

You are letting go of Enviu Foundation after steering the ship for many years. How do you feel about that?

It is a great moment to start Powered By Enviu. A few years ago, it would not have been comfortable; Enviu wasn't ready yet. We now have a strong international team, a great foundation to scale; and a fantastic new management team. We have our skills and style that brought us (the foundation) this far, and the new management team has a different set that will help the organization advance further. So, the opportunity is ripe is take the plunge.

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