It’s my final week in Rio as a Social Impact Consultant with _SocialStarters and time to wrap things up with my client, Horta Inteligente. Over the past six weeks we have worked together on a number of things – defining the product offerings, pricing, market research, website, business presentation – and this week we need to get everything finished, or at least into a state where I can be sure that Elisa can complete any outstanding elements when I’m gone.
One of the biggest challenges has been trying to get Elisa and her team of volunteers to understand that they need to charge private clients for their garden building services and workshops so that they can provide free support to their beneficiaries, kindergarten schools in the favela Providencia. Her funding is about to run out and so this is necessary if she is to continue her great work, but she is so passionate about what she does that she’d offer it free to everyone, such is her enthusiasm for her work. This seems to be a common theme with all of our young social entrepreneurs, their dedication to their projects, which is totally infectious and a joy to be around.
Last week I was lucky enough to see Elisa in action as I joined her at the creche where she runs her twice weekly sessions. The kids were mesmerised as they listened to her speak and then all joined in, planting and watering seedlings. They’ll be keeping a close eye on the garden over the upcoming weeks and watching their tomatoes grow. She also leads basic cookery classes, painting and craft classes, in fact anything that will engage the children and teach them about the environment and healthy eating.
On Sunday, the Horta Inteligente team were invited to be part of Feira Ekobé at the Museum of Tomorrow in central Rio; a large fair promoting sustainability and the environment. Underneath a blisteringly hot sun they ran their children’s workshop as well as promoting their services on their stand. It was great to see some of the marketing and promotional things that we had discussed being put into action and we were all excited by a number of visitors who requested quotes for private hortas (walled garden). Result!
The past six weeks have flown by. There have certainly been some challenges along the way. Working through interpreters does make things slow, plus availability of our clients meant it took a while to set a reasonable level of expectation on what we could deliver in the time available, but the local support team here do a great job and all of our entrepreneurs and translators have been amazing. I shall be sad to leave Elisa and her team but will watch her progress through her social media and Facebook page. Hopefully she will continue in the _SocialStarters programme and a new Social Impact Consultant will sign up to work with her in October. Rio is a fantastic city and this has been a truly wonderful way to see and experience it.