Community Vegetable Gardens

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Community Vegetable Gardens

CambodiaManchester, United Kingdom
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Supporting education, helping the environment, improving health, building community cohesion, and alleviating poverty.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The main problem is a lack of income for poor villages is rural Cambodia, which means that not only do families have to survive on very little money, meaning children often go without, and eat a poor diet, but also the schools and hospitals don't have the facilities and equipment that they need. Secondary problems include malnutrition and poor educational standards. My project will also solve the problem of poor community cohesion.

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

My solution is to provide village schools and hospitals with vegetable gardens. They can then sell their produce and raise money to buy the equipment and materials that they need, and they can also set aside a portion of their profits to buy new seeds/tools etc., so the gardens are self-sustaining. The schools can also use the gardens to teach the children about plant growth, life cycles etc., so they will be an educational tool, and the access to fruit and vegetables will mean that local families will eat a healthier diet, and associated health problems will be improved. By giving communities joint ownership of a project, community cohesion will be improved, and by situating the gardens in schools parents and community members will be encouraged to take an interest in their children's education, and to become involved with their school, and therefore more children will remain enrolled.
Sustainability

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

Our main ally would be an NGO called Malteser International would provide training, but do not provide tools and plants on the large scale that I am envisioning. I have worked with them before and they would help our success greatly by offering contacts, training, and support, in the native Khmer language. Our main competitors would be local market sellers, but because we can cut out the middle man and sell vegetables and fruit at an almost-cost price directly to the people involved in running the garden and their friends and neighbours, they should not impact too much on our success.
About You
Organization:
Friends of Banteay Meanchey
Background Information
First Name

Hannah

Last Name

Al-Othman

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

Yes.

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 recently completed a VSO placement in Cambodia, working in community education, and this gave me a real clear idea of which sort of projects will make a difference to people's lives, and which sort of projects won't. International Development is my passion, and after leaving Cambodia I've been trying to fundraise for various projects that mean a lot to me - this seemed like the perfect opportunity to build on this. I know that my business works because it has been tried and tested - I came up with lots of ideas for different projects during my year of service, but this was one of my most successful.

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Friends of Banteay Meanchey

Organization Country

, Manchester

Country where this project is creating social impact

, BM

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Innovation
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities

The village will identify a suitable public location for the garden, eg. a school or hospital. They will then be provided with tools, fencing, and seeds, and the community will plant the garden together. Training on vegetable growing can be given if required. One or two people in the village will be given direct ownership, in return for a share of the produce, this is to ensure that the garden is properly looked after. Suitable individuals would be a teacher, nurse, or community elder. If the garden is situated in the school, the student council could be given ownership, under the supervision of a teacher. Once the crop is harvested it would be sold directly to villagers at a lower price than market value. Cambodian schools already have wooden stalls selling snacks at break time, so I am envisioning a similar idea. This will give people more access to fruit and vegetables, but the crops will still be sold at a slight profit to finance the continuation of the garden. The idea is that villagers will see the success of the garden and plant their own, thus improving the nutrition rates of the whole village.

Select the stage that best applies to your business

Operating for less than a year

Social Impact
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?

I have set up a vegetable garden at one school, and one hospital. There was nothing like this in the village before, and the community welcomed the gardens. Several community members attended the first planting, which enabled them to share skills on plant growing. The mark of our success is that they are still running today, community members are involved in their running, and several crops have been harvested. The cook at the hospital has used the vegetables grown to improve the nutritional value of the food given to patients, and at the school the student council are running the garden, which is both good for team building, and a valuable educational experience. The children are learning how to grow plants, and are also able to study topics such as life cycles of plants first-hand.

What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?

My main problem is funding - The first gardens were set up using a private donation. Although the gardens are self-financing, there are some initial start-up costs. I intend to run the project as a not-for-profit business, and until I have some initial donations to pay for the equipment and raw materials (fencing, watering cans, spades etc.) I cannot create any more gardens. I have already started fundraising for various projects in Banteay Meanchey, and the prize money from this competition would go a long way!

Sustainability
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?

I am confident that this project is sustainable, not only because the model has been tried and tested, but also because ownership is given directly to communities, so they have a vested interest in the project and will want it to succeed. Therefore, this project is socially sustainable. I have spent the past year building relationships within communities in the province, so I know that there will be support for my project on the ground, and that the gardens will help to improve community cohesion. At the moment my main problem is financial sustainability. I am relying on private donations to fund the project, but I hope that soon there will be more gardens making profit, which will generate a small income. I will never charge for my services, but instead I will put all profits into building more gardens. I also want to provide support to individuals wishing to build gardens on their own land. This project is completely environmentally sustainable, as all gardens are organic, and all waste is composted.

Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?

I support the work in development geared towards empowering people to help themselves out of poverty, rather than offering handouts or imposing foreign ideas and practices. I believe that the ideal is to provide people with the necessary tools and equipment, and the ideas, and they will know best how to turn those ideas into a reality, within the context of their own culture and society. I think one of the most important things is instilling confidence in people, and helping local people to become entrepreneurs. They can then pass their enthusiasm and skills onto the next generation, and help to bring their own countries out of poverty.

What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?

I love immersing myself in a different culture - getting to know families, speaking the language (even if it's just a few friendly words), trying the food, and learning the customs, so for me, staying in Uganda and living and working daily with local people will be the most rewarding part. I know that working with limited capital and resources will be difficult, but after my work in Cambodia, I think that I will manage to rise to the challenge. I fear that what I will find most challenging is saying goodbye to the new friends that I have made at the end of my stay, and not knowing when I will be back to see them again.

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