Verco celebrates 30 years!
October 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of Verco’s founding – a period which has seen the company expand, diversify and shift through multiple incarnations, before, as Dave Worthington (Managing Director) remarks, emerging “back out the other side as an independent consultancy again”. Sustainability has remained at the heart of the company’s collective ethos however, leading to many successful projects and partnerships across the globe.
The company now known as Verco, was originally established in Ethiopia in 1989. Jeff Kenna, one of its founders, recalls “In the 1980s there was nothing renewable energy-wise in Europe. So we thought we’d set up a company, and came up with the name ESD (Energy for Sustainable Development) – not just doing consultancy work, but looking for new ideas to create new businesses, which would provide renewable energy services, technologies and products”.
After initial involvement in a number of projects for the UK government in the early 1990s, ESD successfully bid for a contract from the European Commission, researching the potential for renewable energy across the continent. The success of ‘TERES’ (The European Renewable Energy Study) soon led to a huge range of further work both within the UK and abroad.
Towards the end of the 1990s, the company’s work in Africa especially led to wide recognition. Projects such as the ‘Mirte’ cookstoves initiative – designing cookstoves in Ethiopia to increase fuel efficiency, whilst simultaneously reducing harmful smoke pollutants – led to the 1998 receipt of the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.
In 2003, as Jeff recalls “We set up a new company called ‘Camco’ to originate carbon credits in developing countries and sell those into the European trading scheme”. Camco’s work in helping to grow the Clean Development Mechanism project alongside partners like the World Bank’s Carbon Fund provided the base for rapid expansion. By 2007, Camco acquired ESD (its parent company), becoming ‘Camco Advisory Services’ – the businesses combining with “around 250 people in offices everywhere: US, China, Russia, three in Africa, and four in the UK”.
In 2012, Camco AS was renamed ‘Verco’ – using the Latin-derived ‘Ver’ (Green) to present the company “as a sustainability consultancy…with a focus on the quantitative, environmental side of sustainability”. Since then, Verco has gone from strength to strength, becoming an independent, employee owned business in 2014, and establishing itself as an expert, leading sustainable consultancy consistently striving to push the market forwards.
Today, Verco’s global reach remains as diverse as ever; recent projects including helping to set up an energy efficiency trading scheme in India, as well as working with the Russian government to investigate possible models of carbon regulation.
Within the company itself, the original values and shared ethos of collaboration remains as clearly defined today as ever before. As Dave says, “We’re a people-based business, so the culture and approach of the team is 100% behind our success”. Recent Business Green Leaders and edie awards for consultancy of the year echo such belief in the importance of this culture and team spirit – volunteering days, cycle-to-work schemes, and plastic-free weeks illustrating the shared passion for sustainability beyond the workplace.
So what about the next 30 years? If the perpetual shifts in the sustainability landscape seen over the last three decades are anything to go by, then Verco’s trajectory is unknown. However, the ability of the company to not only survive, but thrive amongst such change can only bode well – as Dave remarks “We’ve relied on the amazing intelligence of the team and its ability to look for, jump and land on the next wave that’s come. And that’s really exciting; the goal of net zero emissions is a wave that is here to stay however and has been the golden thread running through the company's first 30 years and one that we need to have achieved before our 60th birthday!"