In April, the six finalists in GFAR and YPARD's Youth Agripreneur Project headed back to their homes in the four corners of the world after an intense week of orientation and skills building at the GCARD3 Global Event, to embark on their personal adventures--and tackle their particular challenges--in agricultural entrepreneurship.
Over the last three months, Jax, Anil, Nikki, Lillian, Jony, and Kellyann have taken what they learned in the YAP induction workshop and used it to fine-tune their business plans and set realistic milestones for progress; they have channeled the excitement of the pitches they delivered at GCARD3 into campaigning for support through social media, crowdfunding, and getting their names out in their communities; and they have started forming relationships with their mentors who will support and challenge them during this year, and help them identify the resources they will need to make their businesses successful.
Now, with a little more experience under their belts, we asked the YAPpers to reflect on where they have come since GCARD3. Kellyann Allicott's proposal was to develop a line of natural skin care products using raw materials from naturally derived sources, such as organic produce (herbs, spices, and fruits) purchased from local and regional farmers. Here is what she has to say about where she has come thus far...
Everyone loves to collect little items to commemorate a life changing event or a trip to an interesting place. I can honestly say GCARD3 ticked both those columns for me. I collected some interesting souvenirs to remember this event by, but I also walked away from it with a new network of friends and colleagues passionate about making a positive difference in the field of agriculture across the globe. An intangible trinket, but one that an avid collector like myself would gladly add to her collection nonetheless.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Returning home marked the process of re-evaluation for my proposed project to produce unadulterated skincare from naturally derived sources. After the wonderful Skype sessions with our mentors Bill Downing and Michelle Kovecevic, it was clearer to me the steps that were most necessary to take to make this project a success over the coming months. The reduction of a business plan to a concise snapshot called a lean canvas was the real eye opener. As you all know, when you start a new venture you’re excited and think you can accomplish everything from the get-go. But then the reality hits that you are only one person, not five like you had imagined. Most importantly, funds are limited so you have to make wise decisions.
One crucial step was identifying the team—selecting the farmers and organizations that would be a great fit to execute the goals of the project. One such person was Randy Belgrave. An enthusiastic young agripreneur and a fellow graduate from the Barbados Youth Agri-preneurship Incubator Program who possess a keen interest in anything to do with sustainable agriculture. The Youth Agri-preneurship program is designed to ensure the future growth of entrepreneurs in a diversified sustainable agricultural industry.One of the organizations I’ve decided to partner with is The Caribbean Sustainability Collective run by Dr. Arianna Marshall, who will help in the process of getting locally selected farmers prepared to meet the demand of the raw materials we need utilizing sustainable methods. Cutting down the long list of hydrosols and essential oils I initially had in mind for the production of our line of natural skin care products was a true test for me. I honestly wanted to start producing all 20 something distillates from the get-go but then reality stepped in.
Thinking more deeply about what our target market would be more interested in helped us make this crucial decision on what would be first produced. So we’ve decided to focus on five types of hydrosols and three types of essentials in the first three months. We will progress from there after our trial period of a month. This in turn will influence the type and quantities of herbs we will be purchasing from our local farmers. So stay tuned for updates on these great collaborations.
And the treasures continue...
I feel totally blessed and honoured to call myself a YAPper. The gifts from the experience of being involved with such a group is priceless. I was afforded the opportunity to work with a wonderful mentor called David Thomas—the very definition of irie (“cool” in Caribbean slang) in my books. This was made possible by the lovely Michelle who listened attentively to the list of attributes I desired in a mentor.
From the initial meeting, David and I laid out all the areas we would be focusing on in the coming months. These included branding and logistics, to name a few. One exercise which assisted with branding was the creation of a mood board. The mood board allows you to put all your ideas of what you want to convey and see if it has the same effect on others as you intend it to have. The concepts which we want the brand to deeply portray are:
1) “Farm to face”, meaning that ingredients are directly sourced to create the products, and;
2) An overall feel of eco- consciousness through the use of eco-friendly packaging and working with local artisans to produce the finishing touches for the brand.
Doing this exercise had an eureka effect for me. I finally felt as though I was getting my ducks in a row. Why, you may ask?
When you start to think of building a lasting house you need a sturdy foundation. The team and knowledge that accompany the group of people I will be working with in this project provides that. So, as the journey unfolds in the coming months, I am truly looking forward to sharing with them each moment of this transformation of an idea into a successful enterprise, one step at a time.
Blogpost by KellyAnn Allicott – ibisproducts(at)gmail.com – one of six finalists in the Youth Agripreneurs Project, a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”), co-organized by GFAR and YPARD. The YAP Finalists launched their projects during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016.
Picture: Area in which the first set of raw materials for the product are sourced-St. Andrew, where it all began.