Gus has a clear and focused life mission: to conserve African plant biodiversity for future generations by developing models for the sustainable use of African plants and educating consumers on the biodiversity impacts, positive and negative, of their consumption decisions.
He does this primarily through his research and subsequent commercial development of indigenous African plants.
The natural products businesses in which Gus is or has been involved include:
Katavi Botanicals – natural skincare from African ingredients (katavisouthafrica.co.za);
KAZA Natural Oils (kazanaturaloils.com), producing natural cosmetic ingredients;
Hutano foods (hutanofoods.com) manufacturing natural foods
Educating consumers has always been a big part of his work, and in the mid 2000s Gus helped to establish a new certification body, the Union for Ethical BioTrade (ethicalbiotrade.org). The idea behind this was ultimately to create a labelling scheme to enable consumers to understand the biodiversity impacts of a particular product. For the first four years of its establishment, he was the President of the Union’s Board, and is proud of the organisation’s growth and spread since then.
Another educational initiative with which Gus has been involved is the Fair Wild Foundation (fairwild.org), a certification scheme for wild-harvested plants to enable independent verification of the sustainability and fair trade credentials of its supply chain. His company B’Ayoba is the only baobab producer in Africa to be Fair Wild-certified, and Gus is a passionate advocate for the adoption of certification schemes and mechanisms that enable consumers to differentiate between products with positive and negative biodiversity outcomes.
It was this desire to educate consumers that eventually led Gus on to developing his own social media presence in the guise of the African Plant Hunter. His first aim is simply to show people the magnificent breadth of African plant diversity, and his second is then to educate them as to how consumer decisions they take potentially impact this biodiversity.
Gus was also the main driver behind the African Baobab Alliance (africanbaobaballiance.org), of which he is the current Board chair.