Founder: Oceans Alive Trust and Kuruwitu Conservation and Wefare CBO

I grew up in Kenya and have nurtured a passion for wildlife of all kinds for as long as I can remember. After graduating from Chelsea Art school with a degree in graphic design, I worked briefly in London; but it wasn't long before I felt the call to return home to Kenya. Alongside other business ventures, I started my own advertising company but still found my real passion unfulfilled. As a child, I spent a lot of time on the Kenyan coast, spending hours diving with local fishermen that became my friends. They introduced me to the submarine world that would continue to fascinate me for the rest of my life. At the same time, however, I noticed over the years of visiting Kuruwitu, that the marine life was becoming damaged and depleted, and that the fishermen were struggling to support their families from their tiny catch. When I spoke to them about what I had witnessed, they expressed the same concern about the future. Faced with the prospect of my two children seeing nothing but a barren wasteland when they too took to the ocean, I knew I needed to do whatever I could to help. It was clear that together we needed to find a sustainable solution, and in 2003 the KCWA - Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association - was born. Finally I found my true calling. For conservation to work, it must improve the lives of the people in the area that they will strive to protect by offering them a sustainable alternative income. Combining my experience of how to run a good business with the fishermen's innate knowledge of the ocean, we offered the area a chance to thrive instead of just survive. The success we have seen at Kuruwitu has inspired similar projects both locally and internationally. To untite and support the growing conservation communities, we set up the Ocean's Alive Trust, which offers toolkits and solutions that we wished we'd had when we first started. My family have encouraged me and supported the cause so we now spend the majority of our time at the coast. This is my full-time occupation and although the challenges are many, it is infinately more rewarding than the corporate world.

Des Bowden's Solutions