♣ Showing people concrete means to contribute and impact

"♣": Estrategias específicas empleadas por los estudios de caso para incrementar su nivel de auto-sustentabilidad.Pueden estar en inglés o español. Por favor usa el traductor del menú lateral 

"♣": Specific strategies used by the case studies to increase their degree of self-sustainability.They might be in English or in Spanish. Please use the side menu translator
  • [This/The initiative]  FARM is located in a rural area of Beijing (China) and offers a sustainable model of agriculture, an alternative to industrial agriculture. The model is inspired by what is internationally known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which promotes agriculture that is more attentive to the development of communities and advocates a co-responsible and reciprocal society.

  • The farm rents farmland to residents of the city of Beijing so that they have access to fresh, healthy, safe and quality food. For this, it offers three membership options with variable costs: 1. Cultivation and harvesting of the land and/or care of animals for consumption by the consumer. The farm provides technical training, tools, and ecological products to guarantee an organic production, without the use of chemical fertilizers. 2. Same as the previous option but with the help of the farm. 3. Cultivation and harvest of the land and/or care of the consumption animals in charge of the farm (previous selection of food by the consumer). Delivery of food either at the farm, at one of the four delivery points in the city of Beijing, or at the address of consumers.

  • In fact, the project started in 2008 when Shiyan, Huang Zhiyou, Yan Xiaohui and other pioneering researchers from the Renmin University rented abandoned rural land to the Haidian District and Sujiatuo town government authorities, with the idea of financially self-sustaining and even scaling up their project of agricultural schools for farmers and of creating sustainable, safe, healthy and equitable agro-food alternatives — in the midst of a national crisis of food security, with the quality of McDonalds and the industry of milk being severely questioned.

  • As a social enterprise that serves as an integrated platform for agricultural development, the farm is maintained with the income received both from the rent of land and animals and from the school trips, mentioned above. In addition, it has set up a dining room that operates during the weekends and a store in which it sells its own products (eggs, meat, vegetables), as well as some from other collectives with similar working approaches (with commission), which makes the visit to the farm more attractive. The farm also offers consultancies and training to officials and organizations that want to replicate the model, as well as to companies that want to adopt greener technologies. It also offers carpentry and local arts workshops. It works with the support of volunteers — some thesis students, other young people who want to experience a way of life different from the one offered by the city — and still relies heavily on donations from both foundations and local governments, which help, in part, to finance scholarships for interns who help manage the farm. This diversity of income sources allows the subsistence of the project in a region where land rent is expensive.

  • Obviously, this scheme benefits everyone because of the contribution it makes to reduce the environmental impact. Moreover, it benefits:

• GreenPrice, because it generates profits as a company that allows it to ensure the financial sustainability of the project — unlike if they were constituted as a non-governmental organization.

• Customers, because it allows them to access products that would otherwise be out of their reach, while contributing, in principle, to solving the ethical and environmental problems that GreenPrice addresses. Here it is important to mention that the niche population of the project are middle-class citizens, especially adults. Firstly, because the civil organizations that collect and redistribute food waste in Hong Kong — from restaurants and not from distributors or suppliers — focus on the poorest populations and the wealthier sector is not particularly interested in getting their products at a lower price. Second, because the type of products that GreenPrice focuses on are not essential— they are foods that are normally considered luxury and some other products such as cosmetics. Third, because young people do not seem to care too much about the high price of products.

• Suppliers, because it represents their only alternative, in addition to garbage dumps, to channel their products with dates close to expiration in a responsible manner, minimizing their monetary losses due to transportation, storage and disposal of these products — the GreenPrice initiative does not represent a risk for them because the project is still small and because the products it sells are not fixed, but depend on what suppliers provide it. In addition, some suppliers register their transfer of products to GreenPrice as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. Moreover, the sale of these products through GreenPrice allows them to approach a population niche that will potentially continue to buy these products through conventional means.

  • GREENPRICE rescues edible foods that are about to be thrown away due to marketing strategies and gives them one more opportunity of distribution in their online and offline stores — reducing food waste and the pollution it generates, and offering the possibility of reducing expenses for an important sector of the population.

 

  • Sponsors.[This/the initiative] searches for sponsors for specific occasions/projects by publishing particular activities of the Foundation that need donors’ support on their website. To that, they explain their projects’ objectives and enunciate the aspects that need financial support.
    • Online donations. These donations are received “in honor or memory of” and gift cards that are offered with exact amounts (also open) to receive single or concurrent support for specific objectives (e.g. workbooks for 5 children, signboards for 18 schools, 5 day training workshop for 30 teachers, etc.). The “donate” button appears on each section of the website (ibid.).
    • Volunteer workers. It has a shortness of staff and hires personnel or volunteers for specific projects.

     

    • Get funding from many and diverse sources, both public and private, that usually support concrete initiatives.

     

    • Allow online donations of materials, equipment, or others.

     

    • the[This/the initiative] Website has a section for specific (lamps, water-tanks, etc.) or general donations (x)

     

    • Searching for sponsors for specific activities such as the Balmela and/or other incidental costs

     

    • incorporate[This/the initiative]’s website ideas like gift cards (that people can give to others in their name as a Christmas or birthday present, for example) or the option of “Memorial” donations, where people can donate their legacy in the name of their family or the like.

     

    • online donations in various modalities including children’s sponsorships

     

    • El[Esta/la iniciativa] es un negocio privado iniciado por X en 1960 cuya actividad económica principal, la venta de árboles de navidad, es complementada por una serie de programas que buscan promover la sensibilización y conservación ecológica, la educación ambiental y el desarrollo socioeconómico local. Ello le ha ganado varios premios por su contribución al desarrollo sustentable.

     

    • It is trans-sectorial because it promotes the formation of skills as the basis of entrepreneurship (including those for pacific coexistence, health, garbage management, environment, etc.). They emphasize on children’s application of their knowledge within their family and community. One of the main successes of[This/the initiative]’s model is that it offers very concrete elements to motivate children’s participation with the community. It is important to say that creating these entrepreneurial skills has been a useful tool to prevent rural children’s migration to the cities.

     

    • all stakeholders participate in educational decisions, which motivates their ownership of the projects. The model has, for example, a children’s and a parents’ government that run the school.

     

    • Once a reference model is agreed

     

    • The[This/the initiative] Project’s model is not intended to be scalable, but the local autonomous economy model that promotes solidarity and local production is. Retrieving experience from the[This/the initiative] Project and[This/the initiative]’s initiatives (or from any other of the many thousands of alternative currencies – economies – that today are being multiplied in the world) can become a tool to reinforce the self-sustainability in the implementation, and therefore the scope, of the programs undertaken by the[This/the initiative], by attacking the roots of dependency with a systemic, integral perspective

     

    • it was also recognized that people could be unclear on how to participate, because of which, in a meeting witnessed during the field study, it was decided to elaborate a list of their concrete needs (financial or organizational) to show people means for supporting the project.

     

    • To attract members to the[This/the initiative] Project, the abovementioned coordination identifies people from the community who could enrich the diversity of products and services offered in the association’s directory (x), and presents them with a document on regulations (x)

    However, increasing people’s participation is difficult especially in contexts where communities are habituated to be passive beneficiaries of public programs and incentives, and/or where their people are divided by socio-economical or, for example, racial barriers.

    To stimulate it, both the[This/the initiative]and the[This/the initiative] are promoting the use of alternative currencies that aim at reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which is not guaranteeing that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty. Currencies that are expected to boost the local economy, promoting the circulation of goods and services which either stopped being produced as a (most probably unintended) consequence of external subsidies, or had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place. Ultimately, the intention of these alternative market systems is to create incentives and means for solidarity and participation among people in order to solve their communities’ problems: defining and addressing what they are lacking and what their members can provide for resolving them. Moreover, they have noted that these non-monetary inputs, which value is backed up by the same goods and services offered by the participant partners, constitute a significant proportion of the resources needed for the implementation of other development programs with the communities.

     

    • The[This/the initiative], on its side, designs and monitors all of its programs through participatory mapping techniques, by which the community members gather with the members of the organization to draw up, together, a map of their community. During the drawing process, a comprehensive diagnosis is made of local conditions, challenges, conflicts, problems, and priorities. The participatory mapping not only allows the communities to visualize themselves and their situation but to become agents of their own development, by enabling them to identify the resources they have available, define possible strategies to address their interests and needs, and distribute roles — which enhances the programs’ possibilities for sustainability.

     

    • Many initiatives have also managed to foster local participation and ownership by decentralizing the management of the programs and their budgets — which also ensures transparency and thus, fosters credibility and with it further participation. They have done it by developing structures that give different sectors of their targeted communities the means and opportunity to create awareness of their specific needs and perceptions, and that help covering roles and functions (supervisory, managerial, communicational, etc.) that, as mentioned before, would otherwise require the acquisition of funds to cover them (such as children’s parliaments/governments, village development committees, parents’ organizations, rotatory management commissions that ensure the equitable representation and responsibility of all of the members, etc.). Another strategy commonly used to this end is the establishment of schemes, such as the banking trust funds mentioned before, that assure that all stakeholders’ interests and responsibilities are negotiated, defined by contract, and supervised by an external actor — dealing concurrently with potential treats to self-sustainability that could emerge during the implementation process and keeping the communities stewardship of the programs by delimiting their rights and responsibilities.

     

    • Making investments at fair value and searching for beneficial interests in trusts.

     

    • the[This/the initiative] Website’s “Donate” section (ibid.) accepts donations for specific items (such as mosquito nets, or solar lanterns) or higher, voluntary amounts.

     

    • Increasing the capacity of the[This/the initiative] to attract funding by putting emphasis on connecting the donors with the beneficiaries by creating a portfolio for the donors of the Solar Night Schools Program (in specific) that includes concrete information about:

    1. The problem that the Night Schools address.

    2. The[This/the initiative]’s mission, vision, and organizational scheme – personnel, programs, etc.

    3. The Solar Night Schools Program (a systematization of the model and how it works).

    4.The results obtained so far from the Solar Night Schools Program — qualitative (case studies) and quantitative (statistics) information that can connect the donors with what their funding might support and explain to them how was the region before the Night Schools started and how is it now.

    5. The organization’s financials.

    a. How does the[This/the initiative] collect money for the Night Schools, how does it use it, and how is it distributed.

    b.[This/the initiative]’s financial self-sustainability (here could be included the Community Contributions Inventory suggested in[This/the initiative]’s R1).

    6.  A “Gift Catalogue” where options are offered to the donors about means to contribute with items, activities, or services for the children and explaining how are they going to be used.

    7. Emotional connection with the donor: a conclusive text that concretely explains to the donor how their contribution is going to benefit the Solar Night Schools Program, and more importantly, the children and their communities.