Providing urban people with the incentive to grow and trade fruit & vegetables, delivered by a group of young urban agriculturalists.
The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Country of residence of entrepreneur
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
I am a 28 year old living in London, originally from Birmingham. I presently work for an ad agency for clients such as the BBC. I'm active in the environmental space having worked on allotments, attended numerous growing/gardening courses, commenced an urban garden design course as well as installed growing schemes in several friends gardens. I run a community garden in London and I have grown fruit and vegetables in my small terrace house for the past 2 years deriving great returns and a whole load of satisfaction whilst doing so. I've progressively become enchanted by urban gardening the possibilities that exist there whilst conscious of the growing need for cities to be less polluting and more self sufficient.
Outside of work, I volunteer in the community with a young person. I have done this for 5 years. In this time I have helped him comprehend his potential and go on to higher education. One of the lessons this has taught me about the youth in the UK is that they have drive, ability and are being made to suffer due to the decisions of others. This has made me incredibly passionate. I want to use this idea to change this any way I can.
In my job, I work with the Internet in the main. I have seen the growth of social networking and the ability it has to give more people a voice, in a connected, democratic way. I see this fundamentally as being the tool to allow people to help each other, but in the real world, not just online. My vocation in this space, has allowed me to see how I can utilise the Internet to help the causes I am passionate about.
The question about entrepreneurship is one I pondered for a while. What exactly are the skills? If it means 'total' dedication then I think my continued striving for urban gardening, growing and exploring as much as I can, as well as staying dedicated to my volunteering, never losing sight of the benefits that I provide, demonstrate considerable commitment. Beyond this, I have built this idea; I've shaped it and evaluated it to create a robust enterprise plan over 2 years. This indicates a solid dedication to push this through to the realisation of my ambition.
Innovation is something that I realise is essential to the project for its long term prosperity. Just this realisation is not enough though. Connected Roots is fundamentally innovative being a dynamic and original combination of gardening, the urban environment and the community. There is nothing out there quite like Connected Roots and I have striven to ensure that. I've applied rigorous analysis, not just come up with speculative perceptions. Innovation only stems from a frank assessment of the full market - my hunger and enthusiasm in this area has only served to make this more capacious and meticulous.
It's true that being an entrepreneur merits aspects of all the above but beyond these traits, I think that it takes the right combination of objectivity, a special insight and a innate joy about your idea to make it work. All of this I think I have to some capacity.
About Your Organization
United Kingdom, WFT, London
Country where this project is creating social impact
United Kingdom, HCK, London
Is your organization a
Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization
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The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
The problem of climate change, of people relying on supermarkets for their every food need, the problem of food air miles, the problem of atomised communities and the problem of supplying more fresh food to more lower income families in a cheaper way. And to help stem youth unemployment. Connected Roots aims to solve all these problems.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
To bring food growing to the urban masses through inter-neighbour trading of food and knowledge. I'd achieve this by training and educating unemployed young people with agricultural skills and then have them obtain commissions to install 'urban greening' projects, visibly demonstrating what is possible in small spaces, encouraging others to do the same. As more people join in, we facilitate a trading and sharing of produce and gardening knowledge online, through a website. 60%+ of people who grow have surplus food at some time or other. If people traded this with their neighbours food would go further. People would save money, save the environment and actually get to know their neighbours.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
- Educate and train young people in urban agriculture
- Set up a website where those who have urban gardens (no matter what size) can trade surplus produce and ideas.
- Gain commissions for the young people to install urban greening
Connected Roots takes on unemployed, out of education young people and trains them to be urban agriculturalists. The training takes place at urban gardens around north east London. These young recruits, eager to be challenged and given a chance to show what they can achieve, pass out of the school and are then added to the Connected Roots website where private companies and local governments and members of the public will be encouraged to commission them.
The young people go and seek their employment using the awareness from Connected Roots marketing to reach a wide audience, outside of work this group return to their homes and naturally develop their own growing projects - perfecting their skills.
Back in the community, Mr Khan, Ms Simmons and Mr Falstaff live in Sandringham Road, London. Mr Khan enjoys gardening but only plants flowers, Ms Simmons has never even considered it and Mr Falstaff is far too busy to think about it. Mr Falstaff hears about the Connected Roots training programme in his local paper and decides that he could do with the fresh produce in his diet but does not have the time to plant and design his small growing space himself, so he commissions a Connected Roots young employee to install an urban garden for him.
Ms Simmons passes by her neighbours house as Connected Roots is installing the urban garden and is inspired to grow for herself, 'why not - it's easy and you just pop some seeds into a window box', she searches for Connected Roots and goes on to site to see what is in demand (so she can trade surplus!). From this she decides to plant potatoes, beetroot and cucumbers. She also uses the site to get tips and knowledge from other users online - from primary research we have found that most people are nervous about exactly where to begin, the site instantly helps people discover how their peers did it for themselves.
Mr Khan passes his neighbours and has seen their growing efforts and is impressed, he never knew you could achieve so much from such a small space. He attends to local social club that has had a new urban garden installed by the Connected Roots team through a council commission and he is sufficiently enthused to have a go himself!
Throughout the summer, each of the neighbours talk to each other about what they are doing - first sharing and discussing growing through the site. Mr Falstaff has far too many tomatoes on his trellis for himself so lists them through the connected Roots website, but he is also in want of some beetroot to go into his salad, so he trades with Ms Simmons and they both get something they want, without spending a penny!
Each person grows fresh healthy produce, meets their neighbours, saves money and considerably helps environment. Each person gains the self satisfaction attained through growing their own and feels closer to their community
This is what is possible through Connected Roots
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Groundwork facilitate community growing, Cultivate London work with young people to provide agricultural training & Growington.com allows people to share produce.
None of these entities cover the 3-fold combination of community develop, youth employment AND collaboration; all of which are heavily interlinked. By addressing all of these issues collectively, Connected Roots will deliver a more impactful & scalable business that can reach a mass audience.
Groundwork is possibly the greatest threat to Connected Roots due to its experience, national reach and its established contacts. Connected Roots will overcome those challenges by focusing on the community network it will build; Groundwork operates from the outside in, Connected Roots will empower communities to do it for themselves.
Select the stage that best applies to your business
Operating for less than a year
This Entry is about (Issues)
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?
Connected Roots is yet to start trading and has therefore had no social such impact as yet. The form that measurement takes will be to measure the local food growing schemes started, the number of trades delivered through the website and through a survey of those that take part. The survey will discuss a range of topics focused on how Connected Roots has influenced their local food consumption, such as their supermarket usage, how many things they grow themselves and what they trade. Other aspect research will discuss:
How many of their neighbours they knew before the scheme and how many since?
What benefits the training has brought to their life?
What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?
Apathy: People are stubborn to change their ways.
Solution: use each young person as an ambassador; people see and hear about what is possible and adapt.
Scale: Connected Roots will start small, so people may become frustrated that we don’t have full coverage in their area.
Solution: We restrict the communications of the project initially, rolling the project out as we gain in size and scope, in a timely fashion to limit frustration.
Credibility: As with all businesses, people need to be convinced before they trial what you have to offer.
Solution: Gardening qualifications, & by working with a small number of commissioners
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?
Connected Roots teaches young people the value of work. It gives them the ability to earn a decent wage, helping people on lower income and aiding those that take part to save money on their weekly food bill by growing for themselves. Produce may appear cheap but the long-term benefits are also to be found in the health cost savings that readily available fresh fruit and vegetables provide. By buying local, people are also investing back into their own communities and creating more jobs.
Socially, Connected Roots fundamentally aims to bring neighbourhoods together through a mutually beneficial goal – eating cheaper, fresher produce. It also aids social mobility through the education and employment of those it takes on. As people trade, they mix, and this mixing of diverse backgrounds serves to build greater consideration and tolerance in society.
The planting of urban gardens, the growth of local produce, the reduction in food air miles of supermarket-bought food and the enhancement of seasonal produce consumption serves to deliver a profound and fundamental focus on the environment. People create less food air miles through Connected Roots, and take pressure off foreign, often developing countries, to provide increasing amounts of food. Therefore, this model not only helps UK sustainability, but also global sustainabiilty too.
Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?
Developing countries lack infrastructure that big business relies on to circulate their products and create economies of scale. A developing nation is a perfect environment for social entrepreneurs because it relies on the community to work together, and it in turns works to deliver something back to them. The small, focused, intelligent business ideas prosper. They bring schemes like the mobile money transfer project so popular in several African countries and they help people where mass, bulk and anonymous corporate organisations don’t. Social entrepreneurs act as the glue at the foundation of developing economies and will lead ethical business if allowed to prosper.
What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?
The comprehension of a different culture with unusual methods and conventions will always be something that daunts the mind. It is alien and having to adapt, learn and collaborate is certainly the greatest challenge that I will face, but this must inversely provide the largest rewards through the emotional attachment that you will develop upon hopefully gaining the respect of your Ugandan peers and seeing your efforts come to fruition.
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|67 weeks ago Matt Franks submitted this idea.|