Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Ben Lesage, the global coordinator of Sustainable Ocean Alliance. Let’s learn what’s happening at Sustainable Ocean Alliance and how Ben is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Ben! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through the Sustainable Ocean Alliance?
Ben: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! At Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), we activate young professionals under 35, develop and implement innovative solutions, and mobilize the global movement to restore the health of the ocean in our lifetime. In my role, I am part of the "Solutions team" and work closely with Ecopreneurs: an entrepreneur whose business models include a focus on creating a positive impact on the environment, and in our case, on the oceans.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Ben: At the time, in 2018, I was living in the Bay Area and was working very closely with entrepreneurs, accelerators, and investors scouting for the next innovation or technology that would change our day-to-day. That was until the day when I first heard of Daniela Fernandez, the current CEO, and her ambition to launch, in San Francisco, the first accelerator program dedicated to Ocean Startups in the U.S. I grew up near the coast in France and always had a close connection with the oceans. I had this "aha" moment and thought I needed to be involved in this initiative. I started as a volunteer mentor for the first cohort of startups and have continued working to support our Ecopreneurs since then!
Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?
Ben: Sustainable Ocean Alliance takes a unique approach to solving key ocean challenges. By allocating funding across nonprofit grants, market-driven startup investments, and local initiatives, we support a diverse community of ocean solutions. We are still working on the consolidation of our 2023 Impact Report but as of November 2023, SOA has accelerated, over almost 6 years, 376 ocean solutions (incl. 56 Ocean startups) and built a Global presence in 186 countries via its Youth Leaders network . In other words, we are happy to say that we built the largest ocean youth network in the world!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ben—it’s been an honor!
Ben Lesage is passionate about the ocean and is an expert in technology and innovation. He has been an active startups’ mentor at the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) since 2018. He is the author of the first study dedicated to Ocean Technology startups. Ben enjoys spending his free time sailing and surfing. (First published on the Ladderworks website on November 30, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Daniela Vega. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.