Announcing our Second leveraged Investment into the Pacific with Tanna Coffee

TDi are proud and excited to announce the second investment that we enabled into the Pacific. Following months of working closely with various partners across the region including DFAT and Pacific Trade & Invest, we are pleased to announce that we have leveraged $656,000 in investment capital,  for a business making a real difference to peoples’ lives in the South Pacific.


In 2015, Cyclone Pam devastated many of Vanuatu’s 84 islands. One island, called Tanna, suffered the full force of the storm, and the coffee-growing hub, comprised of 750,000 plants, was almost completely flattened. This left nearly 500 of Tanna’s local farmers and their families without any source of income.

The collective of coffee farmers work with the enterprise Tanna Coffee to produce some of the rarest single-origin blend on the planet. The coffee plants on Tanna grow in volcanic soil, 400 metres above sea level, giving the coffee a unique flavour. Coffee also makes up majority of the profitable agriculture on the island and is the primary source of livelihood for a large portion of the population. It was vital that this industry survive the storm and be rejuvenated.

“In the long term, a sustainable economy in Vanuatu will reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign aid, including the $62.5 million [1]  in aid that the country is estimated to receive from DFAT this financial year”.

— Anthea Smits, Deputy CEO at TDi

When DFAT approached TDi about working in the Pacific to discover what doing good and making money looked like in a developing context, we took up the opportunity and the challenge willingly. Our Pacific team, comprised of Anthea Smits and Anna Moegerlein, have been working with Tanna Coffee over the last year to help regenerate the business, set them up for long-term sustainability and to help them have a greater impact on Vanuatu’s local economy. We also helped to leverage their investment.

 

The majority of the investment will be utilised to rehabilitate the crops that were damaged by Cyclone Pam, and redeveloping 200 hectares of land. This will help to increase Tanna Coffee’s annual production from 100 tonne to 250 tonne and the land will be equally distributed among 200 local farmers. Ultimately, when you consider the income that will be directed back into the community, this investment will help to improve the lives of more than 5,000 people, 16% of Tanna’s population.

"We have trained and empowered all the farmers to become self-sufficient individuals and we now pay them up to 270vatu (AUD 3.20) per kg for their sun-dried coffee parchment (up from AUD 25c), providing an enormous back-flow direct into the community”

- Terry Adlington, Managing Director at Tanna Coffee

Managing Director Terry Adlington adds, “We have worked with TDi on an overall plan for sustainable growth to increase coffee production… and anticipate farmers’ incomes to increase by 20% as a result of the investment, which will increase peoples’ livelihoods and improve their ability to afford consistent education for their children.”
We are immensely proud of the growth and development that the team at Tanna Coffee has achieved over the past year. It is incredible to see local farmers being empowered through industry and sustainable business. We are so excited by this model of business and its capacity to both do good and make money for communities in developing regions.

“This is groundbreaking for the Pacific Islands, and has the potential to help Tanna Island achieve long-term trade independence and a sustainable economy".

— Caleb Jarvis, Australian Trade Commissioner for the Pacific

Tanna Coffee is currently stocked in most of Vanuatu’s premium resorts, restaurants and cafés, along with Air Vanuatu and Au Bon Marche Supermarkets, as well as providing strong regional sales to Fiji, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.


Anthea's Blog About Finding Opportunity in Adversity

I love hearing the stories of social entrepreneurs; their stories of courage and passion, stories of overcoming obstacles and creating something that will deeply affect someone else’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everything or every idea is a winner, I’ve had my fair share of the opposite. When everyone else in the room is heralding the newest hero in social impact, sometimes I’m just not on the same page. It’s the same in reverse, sometimes all I hear in a room is “no”, but I come out seeing a great opportunity. I often get asked, how am I able to hear a different story?

The truest answer I have is that I use my gut instinct. When people say something isn’t possible, I can often see and feel an opportunity that will take us somewhere. As I’ve gotten older and had to think more deeply about finding opportunities and how to teach others how to see through adversity, I’ve realised there is some method alongside my seeming madness.

I think there are four attitudes we can approach life with that allow us to see opportunity where others see risk and difficulty.

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty"

— Winston Churchill

Curiosity

I’m deeply curious and have never lost this. As children we are naturally curious and constantly asking two key questions ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’ Unfortunately we have this beaten out of us by the time we’re about eight or nine years old. But the ‘why?’ question is crucial, it leads us to insight and understanding. It helps us discover how things work and what possibilities might exist. Curiosity keeps our mind engaged to work out the implications.

Being prepared to jump into the unknown  

My preparedness to go into unknown places has lead me into all sorts of troubling situations, including sleeping on the floor of a rat-infested barn and being shot at in a market place in Port Moresby. But, it has also led me to some of the most wonderful places. For example, the rat-infested barn lead to the establishment of a midwifery program in Cambodia that over the past ten years has influenced the practice of literally thousands of Cambodian traditional birth attendants.

The truth is, I often don’t know exactly where an opportunity will take us, and where we’re going to land. It’s in these moments we need to trust our instinct, curiosity and lived experience to create a path forward.

"Ideas alone don't change our world for the better. Ideas that inspire action do"

- Simon Sinek

Unlearning

We live in a vast new world that is changing at the fastest pace in human history. Our ability to not only learn, but I think more importantly to unlearn, is paramount. There is an old saying that wisdom isn’t about what we’re prepared to learn, but instead about what we’re prepared to unlearn. The problem I see is that we get anchored to the wrong things; we often get anchored to the ‘how?’ and the ‘what?’ instead of the ‘why?’ We need to be continually unlearning our ‘how’s and ‘what’s but our why is what centres us and keeps us on the right track.

Reflection 

Taking time to stop and reflect on all of the above is critical to us seeing new ways. Reflecting on bringing together our ‘why?’ and ‘what if? questions, thinking about where I need to jump into the unknown and where do I need to push my ‘what’ and ‘how’ to unlearn old ways and discover new ones.

Too many leaders act with such certainty; what if we took the time to discover new pathways to solve problems from a different vantage point? Just maybe we will see possibilities where others see impossibilities, to solve problems where others have given up.


Able Bakehouse

In 2016 TDi began bespoke consultancy work with a Melbourne bakehouse with a difference, Able Bakehouse. Run by Melba Support Services, a service provider that helps Lilydale locals with disabilities, Able Bakehouse has turned into the organisation’s social enterprise venture. The Bakehouse was started to provide meaningful work and community engagement for people with complex disabilities.
After Able Bakehouse received a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, TDi was asked to help the Bakehouse to become commercially and financially sustainable, so that their social mission could become a long-term reality.
We spoke to David Glazebrook, who runs the Able Bakehouse about what the enterprise is looking to achieve in its local area and how they’re going to get there.

"TDi made us think, question, and consider a wide range of options and opportunities".

- David Glazebrook, Manager at Able Bakehouse

Why did you start the Able Bake House?
We started Able Bakehouse to provide meaningful work and community engagement for people with complex disabilities. While others thought they were unemployable, we didn’t and have proved that these wonderful people can contribute to their community 
What impact do you wish to have in your community through the Bake House?
We want to provide even more work and opportunities for people with disabilities. We have an outstanding and delicious product, well several actually, so if more people buy from us, more people are engaged, and more people see people living great lives and contributing.
What motivates you? 
What motivates me and the team at Melba is having people actively engaged in their community and the community embracing everyone, all skill levels and abilities.

How do you hope the Bake House will grow in 2017?
We want to establish our social enterprise hub at the Box Hill Institute campus so we can engage more people make more delicious quality biscuits, slice and jams and increase the numbers of people we sell to.
Why did you engage with TDi?
We received a grant from the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation to assist with our work. In developing the grant we worked with TDi and the assistance and processes they ran with us it enabled us to see more clearly what we could do, how we could expand and stay true to our vision and mission. TDi made us think, question, and consider a wide range of options and opportunities.
What elements of your business has TDi worked on with you?
TDi has worked on all areas of business development and has provided the tools to allow us develop and plan more effectively.

What challenges do you face? Has TDi helped you to prepare for these obstacles?
Knowing our customers and why they buy from us, developing the social enterprise hub and a realistic growth and business plan. TDi has been ‘gold’!
What did you gain from working with TDi?
Knowledge, simple but comprehensive processes and systems, realistic ways forward, and throughout TDi has remained true to our vision and the people we support. They understand what we want to do, what is important and ensure that is maintained.
What would you say to a small business considering working with TDi?
Use them, you’d be silly not to! You’ll be better off because you did!


A Two Feet Retrospective: m-Time

In the lead up to Two Feet 2017, we want to look back on some of the incredible work our alumni are doing.


This week, we look to m-Time, an enterprise run by Dr Yan Ting Choong and Sarah Agboola out of Melbourne. Yan came up with the idea for m-Time after reflecting on a custom in Chinese culture. After a woman gives birth, a nanny is sent to her home to support the new mother emotionally and physically through the child’s first month. This gives the new mother the space and time to recover from birth and to focus on bonding with her child.

Sarah came on board when she realised her social engineering and digital community skills could help to create a shift in the mindset of new parents toward normalising accepting help.

Through further research, Yan and Sarah discovered that new mothers with adequate support form better bonds with their babies and have higher sense of self-worth. When mothers take regular time for self-care, they are likely to be happier. Yan reasoned that if having dedicated time for self-care helped new mothers in other countries, it should also be a norm in western cultures.

Last year, the duo were part of our Melbourne Two Feet cohort. We chatted to them about how m-Time is going and what’s coming up for the enterprise this year.


"It shouldn’t be considered taboo to admit that it’s hard or that sometimes you need help. Instead, we’d like to see a new narrative about the importance of parents taking care of themselves physically and mentally".

- Sarah Agboola (L) and Dr Tan Ting Choong (R), co-Founders of m-Time

Hi Sarah and Yan! Why did you start m-Time?

m-Time came to life through a desire to support transitions into parenthood. After a series of interviews and product testing with parents of all backgrounds, we quickly determined that working parents of both genders desired more time to bond with their children, and have more time for self-care.This insight shaped m-Time as it stands today and led to the development of our signature Mumcierges, all-in-one personal assistants for parents.

Where was m-Time in its growth before taking part in Two Feet?

When we started Two Feet we had done one round of testing based on our original model (baby shower gift packages). Through the workshops on Theory of Change at Two Feet, we were able to understand what type of complementary activities and services we needed to offer in order to help parents on a long term basis rather than as one off “treats”.

Why did you decide to take part in Two Feet?

We were blown away by the mentors. We had originally come to TDi to get some general advice on social enterprise but after only a 30 minute conversation, we walked out feeling energised about how big m-Time could be, and how much we could help change cultural attitudes about parenting.

What did you learn, and how are you applying those skills or lessons to your business today?
The biggest takeaways for us were the learnings on the theory of change and social impact measurement. These tools have helped us keep our social values in check while we work toward creating a commercially viable business.

What would you say to a start-up considering Two Feet?

Take the workshops seriously and make actionable plans for how you’ll use the tools you’ve been provided. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the information being thrown at you but if you take the time to write what actions you want to take after each workshop, it’ll be easier to keep track.

What do you hope to achieve with m-Time in 2017?

By the end of 2017 we hope to be providing Mumcierge services to parents all over Melbourne and be preparing for an expansion to Sydney and Brisbane.


Five Tips from Ben to Broaden Your Network

The lovely folks at TDi have asked me to write this piece because, being new in Melbournethey’ve noticed that I’ve had to rapidly try and build networks in not one, but two new cities (I’ll be looking after both a Melbourne and Sydney cohort for our Two Feet program, for which we are currently taking applications).

Being new to a place or an industry, or if you’re just trying to connect with the right people, there’s a few pretty basic steps you can take (for free) to help you on your way.


1)    Set up a great LinkedIn profile

Spending a few hours ensuring you have a great LinkedIn will allow anybody you approach to get a good sense of who you are. There’s loads of good content out there about how to make a great LinkedIn profile, including this article by Bernard Marr.

I’ve viewed literally thousands of profiles on LinkedIn now and it still never ceases to amaze me how many people get this wrong. I think by far the funniest/worst profile I saw was a college student in the US who’s profile picture was him competing in Greco-Roman wrestling and slamming some poor chap to the ground. It made me audibly gasp.

Don’t make this your LinkedIn profile picture…

2)    Reaching out on email – keep it short!

Email is still arguably the channel through which to network in the modern era. The problem is you are competing against a lot of things for space in someone’s inbox – so make it count as the delete button is always just a click away.

Do 10 minutes of homework (e.g. google ‘name + LinkedIn’) to see what the person you’re trying to connect with’s interests are so you can best tailor your email. This blog from Hubspot goes into a lot of depth about how to connect on email in an effective way.

Now – by far the best advice I’ve gotten about emailing people in general: brevity is best.

Guy Kawasaki has written about how emails should never be more than 5 sentences long. People are time poor, and that’s more and more true the higher up the food chain you go.

One or two sentences explaining who you are, then get to what you are asking for – that’s it. If you prattle on you’re destined for the trash bin, and it’ll make you seem unsure of what you want.

3)    Rapportive

There’s an obvious question after point #2 – that’s all well and good, but how do you get someone’s email address in the first place? If it’s not listed on the website, there’s a pretty nifty tool that can help you guess.

Rapportive is a free Google chrome add-on, which is powered by LinkedIn, that can help you see if you’ve got the right email address for someone. Simply type in someone’s name when you’re composing an email, and if it’s connected to their LinkedIn, their profile page will come up magically on the right. Just guess with the usual email formats “firstname@website.com” or “firstname.lastname@website.com” and see what comes up.

4)    Meetup groups

Nothing replaces meeting someone face to face. If you want to connect with people in your industry, head tomeetup.com and look for groups in the area. There are always events on and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people with similar interests.

5)    Did I mention LinkedIn?

In my view, LinkedIn is the pre-eminent way to connect with people in a professional capacity. If you try to connect with someone, you can add a note and it forces you to be brief (300 characters or less). People can easily see who you are, and people are usually pretty open to being approached on LinkedIn.


As I’ve found, it’s incredibly hard to distil networking down into a listicle, but if you would like to know more, feel free to reach out to me directly at ben@tdi.org.au


International Women's Day at TDi

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? For us in business, it’s another opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women throughout the world. At TDi, we work in an office where women are the majority. Today, globally, many women are striking to show how without women, the world stops. If we did that, TDi would stop.
At TDi, we’re passionate about empowering women to run enterprises that do good and make money. Over 70% of the businesses we work with in Australia are women-led, which we think is pretty awesome. Especially considering the start-up space still has a gender equity problem, in 2016 only 23.5% of Australian start-up founders were women.

So tonight, we’re all marching in the International Women’s Day March on Melbourne to show that we believe in the fundamental rights of women and that equality must always be strived for inside and outside of the office.
Melissa Browne, a ferocious entrepreneur from Sydney is incorporating this same goal into her work every day. We chatted to the business and financial advisor, who works “to help women find their voice and to help them become business and financially savvy”.

“I think women bring passion and heart to what we do. A lot of women start their businesses based on this”.

— Melissa Browne, Founder and Entrepreneur

Hi Melissa! Tell us, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

“International Women’s Day is an excuse for us to keep the issue of womens’ rights, feminism and fundamental rights such as parity front of mind. It means that we’re continuing the conversation. I think it means that we can celebrate all the things that we’ve done but it’s also about acknowledging how much further we have to go. I mean, economically, which is where I play, we don’t have parity. Women are starting businesses faster than men, they’re just not doing it as successfully, there’s so many places where we have work to be done”.

In your experience, are women-led startups and social enterprises common?

“The stats read that women are starting up businesses faster than men, researchers over the last three years out of Australia and the States report that. So its not just common, but we are actually starting things faster than men”.

Why do organisations need women in their teams and especially on their executive teams?

“I don’t think we just need women, we need a big slice of society. We can start with women and then we’ll go from there. The fact that there’s a lack of diversity is really obvious, then you have things like unconscious bias and not having different opinions coming into the mix”.

Throughout your career, has being a woman ever proved difficult professionally?

“Absolutely, everything from people thinking my business was my dad’s business, through to how I behaved. When I started out I would try very hard to fit into what the men were doing, which was really dumb. When I was willing to embrace my femininity and to be confident about being a female in my business, my business just exploded”.