Conservation Entrepreneurship/Business Plans/Examples
Assignment one is for each student to review 2-3 business plans and write a 2 paragraph article about 1 of them. Your article should give a full citation of the business plan, 1 paragraph description and 1 paragraph of your reaction/observation to the business plan (what caught your attention). Be brief and to the point -- remember you are writing 1/8th of the article. Lynch 16:22, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
Post your responses by clicking on the 'discussion' tab at the top of this page.
Note- feel free to comment or discuss any of the other posts found on the discussion pageLynch 00:37, 12 January 2009 (UTC)
Responses to this assignment are seen below:
Name of business plan: Airaware.org
Keeping the road safer and the Earth greener Amber Pitt, Jamie Cotta, Skya Murphy, Simone Athayde
This is a non-profit organization that plans to reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions through the regular (and industry recommended)maintenance of appropriate tire pressure and community education programs. The idea is to make tire inflation convenient and part of the consumers' regular auto maintenance and part of their insurance plan so that the effort employed would be minimal and thus the incentives to participate greater. All profit would go to public awareness campaigns that promote more sustainable lifestyles in the U.S. as well as conserve energy and more efficient product use.
It directly approaches environmental questions and the idea of offering a free services to reach people and educate them in environmental issues by reinvesting in local education and awareness campaigns that can be tailored to local resources and needs. Whether it would have significant conservation impact is hard to say but certainly the statistics they cite for the impact that keeping tires properly inflated are directed more towards the need for inflated tires rather than the direct fuel efficiency and tire life benefits. I would say that there is good potential for replication since it would be associated with insurance company services instead of consumer maintenance so that it could be implemented across the country and without much effort on the part of the consumer. The "scaling up" of conservation impact would result (it would seem to me) more in the environmental education aspect of the non-profit through awareness building. It is hard to say how feasible it would be in the short time that I have had to review the plan but it seems that they covered all of the obvious and not so obvious bases. And since it has a practical use, multi-benefit potential and is environmentally as well as fiscally conscious, it would seem a venture worth investing in. I don’t feel qualified to say whether the marketing strategy is adequate. However, it appears to follow good marketing strategy and is certainly appealing. The competitive analysis was compelling with all of their figures and their method of “free advertising” (through the “attractive” decals) and addition of the element of “societal approval” with the expression of their participation in the service as a means of supporting efforts against global climate change. I would recommend it and I am curious to see what Bob has to say about it. Knowing that they won a University-wide award gives it a great deal of credibility.
Batik Boutique Wendy-Lin Bartels, Diana Alvira, Anna Prizzia, Kendall Sanderson, Richard Wallace
Mission: Building capacity to ensure sustainable livelihoods for rural Zimbabwean women and artisans.
Batik is the art of creating colored patterns (traditionally geometric in design) on fabric using a combination of dyed and dye resistant areas (Batik Boutique 2003). Batik Boutique is a business that proposes to connect Zimbabwean artisan communities (designers, painters, and seamstresses) with each other and with the international free trade market. The business, which is a merging of an experienced batik marketer in the capital and a cooperative sewing club of rural Shona women, has arranged for 70% of the business shares to go to the sewing club and 30% to the experienced marketer. Rather than solely developing a tool to provide an income to these people however, Batik Boutique aims to teach skills that prove useful beyond this project. To do this Batik Boutique plans to connect its workforce with a university professor in the capital, who will teach basic business management, bookkeeping, marketing, and organizational skills. The final step proposed by Batik Boutique is to connect the organization and their products with the international free trade market though use of the World Wide Web.
Overall I think that this business proposal was well organized and well researched. In developing this business plan they took into account the social, economic, and cultural aspects that could potentially affect the success of such an international business. They clearly understood the trend of international trade and the free trade system, and the value of utilizing the World Wide Web. I do however feel that this business proposal follows in the footsteps of a multitude of past projects that attempt to introduce small artisan crafts to the international market. I imagine, and I could be wrong, that the business of selling handicrafts on the international market is tough due to factors such as competition and possibly low demand. The team who created Batik Boutique clearly saw this hurdle however, and believed that they could overcome it due to the craftsmanship and quality of their products. After going through the various sections of this project proposal, the point that resonates most with me is the fact that Batik Boutique aims to teach long term skills not just introduce a means to an income. If for example Batik Boutique fails to sell the minimum number of textiles on the international market and the company dissolves, the members of the community can still walk away with a useful set of business skills to apply elsewhere. Lynch 23:58, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
Osa Hike Project
The Osa Peninsula is comprised of much biodiversity, including tropical rainforest. This project is essentially a fundraiser with a business plan. As part of a strategy secure land in the Osa Biological Corridor, this group had the idea of recruiting hikers and sponsors for those hikers, in the name of conservation. Money raised would be put towards the social initiative of the Osa Biological Corridor Strategy. This hike itself would be a "cross peninsula" hike and would be publicized in Costa Rica and the US. It would provide a "combination of social engagement, recreational activities and the opportunity to help promote conservation..."
This business plan was more interesting to me because of the business idea itself is fleeting. Unlike an ecolodge, for example, and other business enterprises, this is a temporary engagement. Normally, are business plans developed for fundraisers? I think it must be useful.
Occasions Personal Event Planning Business Plan. Portland, Oregon. Available from:  Accessed January 13, 2009.
This business plan is for Occasions, The Event Planning Specialists, a small event planning organization based in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1997 by two part-time event planners, Occasions has aspirations to expand to multiple locations across the Pacific Northwest. Maintaining a strong commitment to community participation, this business promises consistent exemplary results. Focusing on a range of clients from individuals to public and private organizations, Occasions emphasizes greater efficiency with superior quality to ease the burden of planning in a busy society. Occasions primarily serves an organizational and coordinating role and contracts out to local businesses for event components such as catering and music. For those who prefer to plan their own events but want help, Occasions also provides an array of resources such as step-by-step guides, event planning computer software, and “party packs” containing all of the things needed to host an event. This company shows strong business sense as well as devotion to their customers and is likely to go far.
Overall, I was very impressed with this business plan. It was very comprehensive, covering all aspects of the company, it’s goals, mission, background, and plan. The plan also featured a good combination of text, figures, and tables, clearly communicating key information in a way that was visually appealing. At the same time, the action-oriented vocabulary drew me in, making me want to be excited about the company’s goals and plan. In terms of content, I liked the strong emphasis on the company’s commitment to the community, such as dedicating ten hours a month to training students from the area in event planning and using local businesses that can produce quality products to promote economic growth. These efforts show a warm dedication that is often lacking in large impersonal businesses. One issue I had, however, is that while the company’s objectives and keys to success were clearly laid out, I did not see it stated what metrics would be used to evaluate when they had achieved them. I would like to see more clearly what qualifies as success.
The Tanzania Shade Farmers' Association A Project of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group
Mission: To improve livelihoods in nine rural villages in the East Usambara Mountains of Tanzania and create an economic incentive for the cessation of forest cutting and an increase in reforestation in the area.
The proposed mission is to be achieved through the formation of the Tanzania Shade Farmers' Association, a cooperative of growers focused on the shade crops cardamon, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. All of these crops are already grown in the area, but due to low prices owing to ineffective marketing, the intervention of middle men who keep large percentages, and highly variable quality (as well as overall low prices for these products in recent years), the price that farmers receive is much lower than what is possible for these farmers to receive through organization and capacity building. The promotion of these shade tolerant crops (and others including vanilla, medicinal species, and cacao) is attractive in both social and ecological terms because of the high biodiversity of the forests in the Eastern Usambara mountains and the vulnerability of non-forested cultivated areas to erosion due to high slope angles, and subsequent deterioration of water supplies and land fertility. Present low prices are encouraging the abandonment of shade farming of the above-mentioned crops and agroforestry systems in favor of forest clearing. Although the agroforestry systems in which these commodities are produced may not be as diverse as natural forest, they do allow for considerable biological conservation, erosion control, and land regeneration while also providing income. They also link the patches of officially protected forest in the area, forming corridors (increasingly viewed as of utmost importance). Prices 30-60% higher than those currently received by farmers are projected to be fairly easily obtainable by better quality control, elimination of middle men, value added processing by the cooperative, cooperative branding, and targeting of niche markets. Further value could be added by organic certification. The project proposes the creation of the farmers cooperative (to be governed democratically, composed of Tanzanian staff, and transparent) in collaboration with the local Tanzanian NGO Tanzania Forest Conservation Group. This NGO, along with technical supervisor, Theron Morgan-Brown, will seek funding (half grant and half loan) to organize farmers into the cooperative, train staff and farmers, make marketing connections, establish necessary infrastructure and facilitate organic certification. The ideal is that in five years the cooperative will be self-functioning in terms of technical knowledge, marketing capacities, income production, infrastructure, and staff, so that the NGO and technical adviser become obsolete.
This proposal is very interesting and strong in my view, partly owing to its diversity. Diversity in terms of crops, diversity in terms of stakeholders; a NGO, a foreign technical adviser (with experience and reputation in the area) and growers' cooperative, and diversity of its proposed funding; half through grants and half through a loan to be repaid during the first five years of the cooperative's functioning. Another strong point of the proposal is that is plays well on established players (farmers and an established local NGO) and crops (crops already familiar to growers). In essence the project proposes little new, but rather a betterment of current practices, and better organization/marketing, so that farmers can receive a higher percentage of the retail price for the very product that they are already producing. The higher prices thus achieved then create a feed back loop encouraging farmers to produce better quality (and the organization to target niche markets such as organic), thus further increasing farmer income. The emphasis on capacity building of community members and making the organization a local enterprise, democratically run with an effort to retain high levels of transparency and promote the involvement of both males and females is well-taken. The main potential problem I see with the project is whether farmers will see it as truly their own and be able to conquer the risks mentioned in the proposal such as corruption, lack of cooperation between farmers and/or communities, and the fracturing of the cooperative by opportunistic middle men. The project makes no mention of the idea for the cooperative having come from the communities themselves, though it does mention an interest expressed by farmers in informal discussions. But, of course, when proposed higher prices farmers will express interest. What is unclear is whether the work of cooperative organization will be embraced and sustainable. For me personally, this proposal is very interesting because I have thought of doing very similar work in Mexico, but have been unsure of how to organize it, how to channel funds, and how to compensate myself for work done. I really like the idea of an establish NGO being used to facilitate the establishment of the cooperative and channel the founding funds used in training and the emphasis of quickly making the cooperative self-sustaining and the technical supervisor and NGO obsolete. It seems very important to initiate and capacity build and then quickly let the organization take on a life of its own. In terms of transparency, I wonder whether the technical adviser's proposed salary of $191,000 during the first five years (75% of the proposed grant money) will be well taken by the local Tanzanian staff and the farmers themselves. I have begun to wrestle with this in my own thinking; what seems "fair" and reasonable (even necessary due to lifestyle) to us, may be very different than what seems fair and reasonable to project beneficiaries. How to deal with these differences of lifestyle and income and be fair to all? Lichenology 21:14, 26 January 2009 (UTC)jay