A new socially responsible search engine called Ekoru uses profits from online searches to fund ocean clean-ups, animal protection and climate change projects. Samuel Ballard reports
Ekoru, a search engine that works in the same way as Google or Yahoo, donates 60 per cent of the revenues it gains through sponsored links to charities that work in areas including animal welfare, ocean conservation, beach clean-ups and climate change policy. All you need to do is add it to your browser.
“We’ve had years of experience building messaging, analytics, location, and search platforms for mobile operators and internet service providers,” said Ati Bakush, chief executive officer at Ekoru. “We decided to use our skills to contribute to the betterment of society and contacted some charities.”
Last November, Ekoru selected World Animal Protection as its chosen charity. Alesia Soltanpanah, US executive director of World Animal Protection, said: “This honour will not only help raise funds to help protect animals around the world, it also helps show users how they can make a difference through simple, everyday activities like surfing the web.”
Bakush, an Australian software professional, has travelled extensively around regions including Asia where he witnessed first-hand the deforestation that certain places have endured. In Australia he engaged with Aboriginal communities living in poverty.
“That kickstarted Ekoru, a search engine that saves the planet,” he said.Ekoru’s name and logo is taken from the New Zealand Maori symbol for regeneration and new life represented by an unfurling silver fern leaf. “That is Ekoru’s mission: to regenerate and provide a new lease of life for our planet,” a company statement reads.
Ekoru also runs all of its servers on hydroelectric power ensuring that they have minimal effect on the environment. Not only this but all searches are made anonymously, meaning that the company retains no data about individuals using its website.
Ekoru is not the only search engine contributing its revenues to good causes, particularly when it comes to sites specialising in travel, a major sauce of global emissions.
Ecosia, the world’s largest nonprofit search engine, launched a search engine for ethical travellers last year. The tool uses 100 per cent of the commission profits from any trips booked to plant trees – averaging at 26 trees per booking.
Other companies offering a similar service include FlyGRN and FlyBarbara, sites specialising in travel, the latter of which donates a third of its profits to carbon offsetting, working with partners including Airbnb and HomeAway.
Christian Kroll, founder and CEO of Ecosia, said: “Travel is an essential part of our lives, but it comes with a carbon footprint.
“We want to give Ecosia users the opportunity to make an environmentally friendly choice when planning their next trip. It’s time for the industry to step up and do better and we’re proud to be part of a movement towards a fairer and more sustainable form of travelling.”