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A report on “Creating a Sustainable Business”.

The iZindaba Zokudla Virtual Farmers’ Lab 30 March 2022

This was our 4th delivery of the course Nxazonke – all around – for the development of Circular and Sustainable Enterprises.

The key highlights of this session include the following:

Naudé looked at the Beegin Beehives (see: https://www.beegin.co.za/), Food Forests (see: https://foodsystemsjournal.org/index.php/fsj/article/view/1043) and Backsaver Farming Equipment (see: https://www.backsaver.co.za/).

The key observation about these contributions is that the technologies and activities converge at a point where sustainability outcomes become visible. Sustainability emerges when one thing creates value at multiple points in the system. The design of technology creates benefits if we can also change people’s behaviour so they can incorporate both these technologies and new behaviour into their lives. The use of Backsaver’s technologies incurs financial savings. However, the use of this technology also creates employment opportunities. However, it is unclear if Backsaver technologies bring into view agro-ecology, so at this point the technology does not converge with broader sustainability outcomes.

If we look at the Beegin Beehives, we immediately see the enterprise sells the technology as a Royalty-free manufacturing system. Beegin probably makes its revenue by selling enough of the moulds, and this is the business model. This however converges now with local manufacturing, and the use of locally available materials (it is not essential to use vermiculite and the beehive could be made with “normal” concrete as well). This brings savings in transport and decentralised manufacture could stimulate the development of a local sector of honey production.

When we take a look at how successful Food Forests have been implemented two features stand out. The first is that the entrepreneurs building Food Forests used social methods – events, volunteers, partners and networks, in conceptualising, designing and implementing these Food Forests as enterprises. The idea for the forests was conceptualised in an event when multiple partners were linked and some of them gave their services (as consultancy services) to the implementers. This activity of implementing with all partners present build synergies and social capital amongst participants.

The next observation is that the Food Forests were all designed. This includes the ecological design of the food forest, but also the design of engagement events and the partnerships. Hence, the implementers were in control over most of the activities that gave rise to the Forest. Urban farmers and caterers can learn from this way of implementing an enterprise, and this immediately bring the community into the enterprise, maximising the acceptance of the enterprise by the community.

Juanita continued the session with a look at a workbook that helps urban farmers to construct a business plan. We are making available the free to download workbook in this regard. Urban emergent entrepreneurs have to download the workbook and go through all the stages in the book and write their own business plans. A Business plan is primarily there to guide the entrepreneur to stay on the designated course in setting up the business. Sometimes it is useful to solicit support and funding, but the key in finding finance would rather be the presentation of records and an income and expenditure statement.

Please do see if you can download the workbook and let us know if this is useful.

It is available here:


1.urban_farm_business_plan_handbook_091511_508
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.57MB

We will meet again on the 20th of April when we will be focusing on how to develop the individual systems in your enterprise.

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