Shamengo: a platform that cultivates the very best of green and social innovation


Shamengo’s goal is to boost green and social innovation throughout the world. This web platform created in 2011 has 6,000 members and has already given media coverage to projects devised by 200 pioneers. Its new challenge is the construction of a smart house that meets today’s environmental and societal challenges.


Pioneers: the name for members of the Shamengo community; a platform dedicated to innovative entrepreneurs who explore sustainable development solutions. “The association was created to promote the best green and social innovation projects in the world via three actions: discovering, coming together and building,” says Catherine Berthillier, prominent reporter and founder of the organization. The association operates three activities: it gives media coverage to pioneers by producing filmed portraits of project developers, which are then broadcast on the Shamengo site and every day on TV5 Monde, thanks to a partnership between the association and the TV channel. It also helps innovators to distribute and share their knowledge on its web platform. And lastly, it plans to develop “Shamengo Villas”: models for living environments where people can devise and build sustainable development projects every day.

Innovations with global potential

Since its launch, Shamengo’s teams have crisscrossed the world to produce the portraits of over 200 pioneers. Some of these nuggets have literally overwhelmed the association’s switchboard. Catherine Berthillier still remembers the euphoria of Pierre Calleja’s discovery four years ago. The researcher based in Libourne, France, invented a CO2-absorbing lamp using microalgae. “In two weeks, the French version of his video was seen 13,000 times and the English version, another 300,000 times,” says Catherine Berthillier. “The swankiest gym in Beverly Hills and the headquarters of H&M both wanted the lamp! The company has been built up on this popularity.” The latest success story involves Philippe Ouaki di Giorno. The French agronomist developed a technology using semi-organic materials that keeps rainwater near the roots of plants. An increasing number of people are showing an interest in the “Polyter,” as it is called.

Spreading the Villa model

Shamengo is also a collaborative intelligence platform consisting of some 6,000 members and an organization that aims to build Shamengo Villas that combine the pioneers’ green and social innovations. During COP 21, a prototype of this 150 m2 house was built in Le Bourget, using 50 green and social innovations (such as a living room carpet made of recycled fishing nets, wardrobes full of clothes made from coffee grounds and hang-glider sailcloth, a roof of recycled paper made from stone offcuts, and a bicycle that produces energy to charge a cell phone).

The first permanent Shamengo Villa will be built by 2018 in a district of Bordeaux that is currently being revitalized. The smart villa will include a Fab Lab to encourage DIY activities, an incubator designed for pioneers from the Shamengo community, a hanging mini-farm and social housing that will be built inside the new building. This will be a villa that is completely new and full of life… and that can be reproduced anywhere. Catherine Berthillier is already dreaming of Shamengo Villas in every country in the world.

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