Business - Issue 95 - Magazine | Monocle

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Bringing the buzz

Montréal — FOOD

This summer, residents of Montréal, Toronto and Québec City can expect their homes to become hives of activity thanks to a Canadian company called Alvéole. In 2012, three Montréal friends pooled their resources to found the beehive-rental company, making it possible for urban dwellers to become beekeepers. There are now more than 250 locations in the founding city.

For an average of CA$75 (€50) a month, Alvéole staff will install a beehive in a safe space such as a roof or garden. Customers will be trained to handle and grow their colony and by September could harvest up to 15kg of honey.


Dénes Honus

CEO and co-founder of Green City Solutions


The CityTree is a soon-to-be-launched urban element designed by Green City Solutions that purifies air in confined urban areas while providing seating, wi-fi and advertising space. Roadside pilots in Paris and Hong Kong take root this summer.

How does a CityTree improve the quality of life in a city?
Each CityTree contains a special moss culture supported by sensor technology that allows it to eat up air pollution with a range of about 100 metres. The moss culture also vaporises a lot of water so it can cool down hot urban areas during the summertime. On top of all that it is greening the city, which is said to reduce stress levels.

What does a CityTree need in order to operate?
The unit runs independently and requires fewer than 10 hours of maintenance per year. It stores solar energy in batteries and collects rainwater in tanks, which is then mixed with nutrients and used to water the moss cultures. It can be installed on any street within eight hours. It doesn’t need to be fixed to the ground or connected to the utility grid.

Where is the CityTree manufactured?
All the units for Europe are being produced in Dresden but in April we entered into a partnership with Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong and they will be producing the units for Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. We are seeing serious demand in Asia so that makes ecological and economic sense.

Material worth

Tunisia — ECONOMY

Tunisia has been on shaky ground since its 2011 revolution, with high unemployment and a decline in tourism offsetting hopes of stability for this nascent democracy. Many entrepreneurs, however, are tapping into two of the country’s richest assets in an effort to improve the situation: its skilled craftsmen and its uncommon natural resources. Leila Ben Gacem’s company Blue Fish, for example, hires homegrown artisans, collaborates with them in designing products and helps them develop sustainable business models with access to international markets.

Another company working in rural Tunisia, Acacias for All, aims to reverse the desertification of arable lands by adopting sustainable tree-planting practices. It is succeeding through the sale of Arabic gum and Moringa oil to national and international markets.

Nokta, meanwhile, is based in the capital’s ancient Medina, an area usually shunned by Tunisia’s creative types. Working with craftspeople in a small atelier, the enterprise creates high-quality work with a subtle Bauhaus look.;

Write on


A brighter future is being drawn up for Italy’s historic felt-tip maker Carioca. Forced into liquidation by the country’s recession in 2014, the 60-year-old stationery maker from Piedmont was taken over in May by a new team led by entrepreneur Enrico Toledo. At the heart of the relaunch is a decision to concentrate its efforts on children as young as two.

“The more tablets are introduced into education, the more teachers and parents recognise the need for children to learn how to write by hand,” says Giorgio Bertolo, one of Carioca’s associates. “It’s a paradox.” The first company to start producing felt-tip pens in Europe in 1956, Carioca now makes two million multicoloured felt-tip pens per day in its factory just outside Turin, helping children learn to work with their hands and ensuring that jobs remain in the region.

Feeling supersonic


Hyperloop – an electromagnetic, carbon-free transport system – recently completed its first public test in Nevada. It plans to whizz passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles within 30 minutes by 2021.

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