Sembrando Confianza – Seeds of Confidence (SoC)

Sembrando Confianza – Seeds of Confidence (SoC): Food security and income generation through sustainable urban agriculture.

Bogota, ColombiaBogota, Colombia
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Can you change the lives of people through food? With Sembrando Confianza (SoC) it is certainly possible! In Colombia, a country in positive transition, millions still face great economic, environmental and nutritional challenges. Through urban and organic agriculture SoC starts to close this gap

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if small-scale farmers, conscious consumers, and innovative institutions could come together in an inclusive network that positively changes the face of poverty, health, environmental preservation in cities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Although Colombia is in a period of great economic growth, there are still serious income gaps, high levels of malnutrition and grave environmental degradation causing a large part of the population to face vulnerabilities. These farmers, entrepreneurs, families and communities have great passion and the potential to create impact but because of lack of target markets and technical advice have a low rate of success.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

SoC uses urban and organic agriculture to create solutions through education and innovative social business. SoC offer hands-on training that raises awareness about the cultivation and consumption of healthy food for youth, communities and institutions in urban garden installations where the team recover idle spaces and convert them into productive and nutritional areas. The organization also foster a transparent network of small-scale organic producers, each supported by the team of agronomists who provide on-going technical assistance. In a local and direct value chain, SC connects the farm to the table by providing a stable channel for sales of ecological products through the sale of home delivery baskets to clients throughout Bogotá.

Awards

Recognition Botanical gardens Bogotá/Hilando Prize for Social Innovation 2014/Alstom Foundation: 2014 award winner for environmental protection programming/Green Latin America Awards 2015: top socio-environmental projects
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Emma, passionate about small-scale yogurt and bread, produces everything from her urban farm in Bogotá, and sells exquisite products yet experiences difficulties gaining access to the market that had prevented her from scaling or generating income. In 2014 Emma became part of the home-delivery baskets enterprise with SoC and since then she has scaled production to its maximum capacity and sells her products at a fair price every week. At Moralba school, in a vulnerable neighborhood of Bogotá, many students could not identify many important fruits and vegetables. Through a 3 month of workshop, these teenagers have constructed organic gardens, harvested their own greens and gained a new consciousness about healthy eating and active living.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The impact through urban and organic agriculture lies in three categories 1)Small scale ecological producers, 50 individuals and their more than 200 family members; 2)Clients of the organic basket delivery service, 300 people in the 1.5 years of operation, currently averaging 40 baskets per week; 3)Participants in the hands-on urban agriculture trainings, a 3 month based curriculum with extensions based on the client, a total 800 individuals trained and counting. The sale of the organic baskets is a constantly growing model and in an exciting scaling phase. The goal is to average 60 baskets delivered each week by the start of 2016 and expand the model to Medellín, in the first quarter. With standardized trainings and installations program, the aim is to reach 10 new schools, institutions or communities during 2016 with the potential to reach over 1000 beneficiaries.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

- Expansion of trainings and installations program through new contracts with schools and public/private programs favored by increasing government stimulus for food security programming in over 1000 public and private colleges in Bogotá. - Progressive integration of new associate producers network, group organic certification and diversification of our products on offer (workshops, fertilizers, green walls, agro-tourism projects) - Geographic expansion to other markets within Colombia, starting in first quarter 2016 supported by strategic human resources and by a capacity-building policy.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

While SoC currently utilizes the following income streams to bring the project to a critical scale, the ambition is to be completely self-funded by 2017. - Self-Funding products and services Sales of organic Market basket Sales of trainings and garden installations - Individuals and Private Donations - Foundations and other grants - Other in-kind contributions: agricultural inputs, subsidized human resources, consulting, technology etc.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Around 25 social businesses and foundations in Bogotá currently offer organic/local products, installation of urban gardens or educational workshops. SoC differentiates through Trainings/Installations: Hands-on model empowering participants to create solutions to the social, nutritional and economic problems/Virtual training capacity through an online course platform and videogame in development Baskets: On-site agronomic assistance and business intelligence provided to associate producers/Pioneering organic group certification process/Agro-tourism project connecting consumers to the land.
Team

Founding Story

We started our work in the locality of San Cristóbal, Bogotá, in 2013, where we empowered the agricultural knowledge of the local community, many who were farmers displaced by the violence, through urban garden installations and nutritional workshops. We saw the potential and scale to recover more space for organic production and empower a whole generation of youth to live healthier. SoC also decided to expand the range of impact to other zones of Bogotá. Here the founders identified the need by small-scale producers and farmers for assistance in organic cultivation techniques, organization under a single brand, and development of a direct sales channel to resident of Bogotá.

Team

The team is composed of 7 full-time professionals and approximately 5 interns/volunteers from numerous countries with experiences in agronomy, social science, business administration and marketing.This intercultural and interdisciplinary allows the organization to improve its structures and impact. As it grows, SoC plans to collaborate with local Colombian expert consultants and with university students during the required intern semester.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Ashoka Changemakers Platform

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder; actively functioning as the program director and manager of the Mercados (baskets) business line.

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

SoC’s has been a 3 year labor of love and learning and makes up a great part of my professional and entrepreneurial experience. In my home country of France in my hometown of Toulouse, I pioneered and established an urban agriculture association with a group of friends called Terr’eau Ciel. Our objective was to create an organization in pro of urban agriculture development in the city among many actors. I was involved with the investigatory process in Toulouse, an investigation of successful projects and initiatives in Paris and the actual establishment of the association. Due to my opportunity to work in the same field in Colombia, I could not continue with the project but my other partners have since continued and launched a successful environmental business, still growing today. Please visit http://www.terreauciel.com/ for more information. My experience with Terr’eau Ciel will help in SoC’s success given that our investigations brought us in contact with many successful urban and organic agriculture projects and professionals. Additionally the administration of a socio-environmental business gave me the insight into the importance of a strong business model to support the impact it can create.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Thanks to the French Civil Service Program we receive French young professionals each year with a variety of specialties from agriculture to financing. Their salaries are subsidised by the program allowing the foundation to channel funding that would have been spent on human resources to better our internal systems, offer more programing and expand our current initiatives.

Also the French Embassy, Residence and Prime Minister are sponsors of the Human Rights prize granted to the organization in 2013, highlighting the program in the Prime Minister's visits and addresses.

The Grupo Abordo: Social impact graphic design firm who has supported in community meetings as well as the intellectual property (brand, manuals, brochures and other pieces).

The American Women’s Club, a social and philanthropic association of english-speaking women which SoC by promoting and becoming clients of the social businesses and offering volunteer opportunities with the foundation to its members.

Bogotá Accueil (French Women’s Club), a social and philanthropic association of French women which strongly supports SoC through financial donations and as clients of our organic baskets concept.

Parroquia Madre del Divino Amor a community church in the Santa Rosa neighborhood where our experimental greenhouse is located.

SAP global enterprise who has chosen SoC for two years in a row to receive consulting from their top performing employees during a month long “social-sabbatical”. We receive consulting and resources regarding operational efficiency, measurement of impact, scalability and strategic planning.

Brigard & Urrutia law firm the largest law firm in Colombia who has selected the foundation as a pro-bono client. The firm will provide the foundation with legal, intellectual property, information management and operational consulting.

The university Minuto de Dios and the university Nueva Granadas provide SoC with mentoring on how to provide technical assistance to smallholder farmers and the organization receive also every year interns who are about to graduate from ecological engineering.

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