Learning from failure is essential for success of any kind. With our previous Enactus project (of the same name) failing, we were keen to learn from our mistakes when starting a new project. Having identified a lack of research and understanding as a key reason the previous lemongrass-related project had failed, we realised a better understanding of the issues was needed.
Our new project was based around imperfect produce. Fruit and vegetables that are bruised or damaged in other ways are often thrown away or buried, with farmers unable to sell them on. Our Enactus project sought to turn this otherwise-wasted produce into juices and smoothies. Working was strict time constraints, our trip to Ghana, funded by the School of Management, was a crucial one.
Partnering with Olive International Konsult – an NGO operating in Ghana – we started the trip by meeting with Enactus University of Ghana and discussing how they could help the project in terms of market research. Market research is vital when starting any business – social enterprise or not, and so we visited supermarkets to identify our competitors.
The following day, we headed to the Volta region, the location where our previous project partner was based. Here, we conducted questionnaires and interviews on farmers to gain a better understanding of the issues. The intense day provided more opportunities to speak to farmers first-hand about how much produce is wasted – something which would have been incredibly difficult without a trip. Our suspicions were also confirmed through a meeting with Jeremy Agyemang – a relative of Gloria (Head of School of Management).
The region of Somanya is the main producer of Mango, so it was extremely positive to hear that we had the backing of the Municipal Chief Executive and Chief. At the end of the meeting, The Municipal Chief Executive confirmed his commitment to the project, particularly in his offering of land, water and power for a small processing plant. The Chief, whose approval is required for a project to start, was incredibly keen about the project – also offering his services.
Keen to make an impact whilst there, we also had opportunities to visit schools and deliver presentations on the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption. After the presentations, the children had the chance to sample the smoothies we’d made, and the feedback was positive. We were told that the teachers would be open to buying the products for the children.
Our final day provided us the opportunity to deliver presentations to over 200 students, not only talking about our project but how they can learn from mistakes in the same way we were.
Overall, the trip was a great success and the EcoResist team are looking forward to using this momentum to push the project towards making an impact.
This post was written by Dan New (Enactus Royal Holloway).
This trip was proudly co-funded by the School of Management @ Royal Holloway