The Munich startup Verde wants to put sustainable, social property insurance on the German insurance market. The person behind the idea is Verde founder Marie-Luise Meinhold. The 49-year-old biologist and economist describes herself as the first woman in Germany to found an insurance company. An interview.
Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please briefly introduce yourself and your product!
Marie-Luise Meinhold, Verde: We’re founding Germany’s first sustainable property insurance company: Verde. By doing so, we want to prove that the finance sector can function differently – meaning cooperatively, fairly, socially, sustainably and for the common good. Verde as an insurance company is still in its development stage, but we want to contribute already, so we offer ‘Verde Check,’ which coordinates appointments with independent financial consultants who have an ecological and social focus. With ‘Verde Bike,’ we also offer sustainable theft protection.
Verde: Insurance for the common good
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Marie-Luise Meinhold: Insurance? Of course not. Sustainable? That’s a different story. 68 billion euros are invested annually in policies such as household and liability insurance — our property insurance premiums. Insurance companies invest that money to make a profit. Transparency and moral standards are subordinated to the rate of return; the social and ecological impact of those investments is not taken into account. But that impact is very important: The investments made today determine the future.
And we refuse to be a part of that. At Verde, we insist on transparency and sustainability. And that means in the company, with our products and – and this is important – with Verde’s capital investments. We scrutinize the impact made by our investments as well as the companies or projects that are supported by those investments. We completely disclose all of our capital investments. And how are we able to guarantee that it will remain that way? With our cooperative, of course.
So many people don’t associate money with sustainability
Munich Startup: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Marie-Luise Meinhold: That’s easy: Our biggest challenge is that so many people don’t associate money with sustainability. Insurance is a topic that also doesn’t go down well with people. We want to change that! Positive money means positive investments, for example in renewable energy, organic farming, developing public transportation or even building social housing. And we need that! Like I said, the investments made today determine the future.
Munich Startup: Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
Marie-Luise Meinhold: We’ve worked on establishing the Verde stock corporation, the Verde cooperative and our first products so far. With appointment coordination, we’ve already been able to pass on many requests to independent, sustainable financial consultants. The cooperative has 77 members and our theft protection is about to enter the market. With our financial investments, we’ve also invested more than one million euros and made the following impact:
- 1,070 tons less of CO2
- 29 new jobs
- 14 funded farmers in regions in Africa
- 12,000 people supplied with electricity in regions in Africa
Now everything is set up and we want to grow! We are looking forward to welcoming new customers, members and soon subscribers to our participation rights. And there will also be more fair and sustainable financial products.
A good location in Germany’s financial center
Munich Startup: What does Munich mean to you?
Marie-Luise Meinhold: Munich is Germany’s financial center. When it comes to invested money, an estimated three billion euros are managed here. We want to be involved in that. Plus our team is also from Munich, and that’s a reason too.
Munich Startup: How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
Marie-Luise Meinhold: Quite clearly a unicorn! We have 77 members and a small but mighty crowd that we’re expanding. With Verde Bike – our first security product – we’re demonstrating what’s possible with ecological and social coverage when it comes to sustainability and service. That starts with our capital investments, continues with bike suppliers and also includes our team. For every euro paid for a premium, for example, our customers cut back two kilos of CO2.
Munich Startup: Early bird or late riser?
Marie-Luise Meinhold: When you found an insurance company, you don’t have a choice. So that makes me an early bird for a green financial future.