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This month, the UK House of Lord’s COVID-19 Committee launched its first inquiry on Life Beyond COVID. The Committee is interested in the long-term impact of the pandemic on people’s daily lives as well as on society as a whole.

In its first inquiry, the Committee is inviting people to share their hopes and fears about what the pandemic might mean in the long-term for our home and working lives, and for how we function as a society – what might it mean for social cohesion, for (in)equality, for our environment or for arts and culture?

If your organisation is interested in engaging in some direct policy impact, make a submission (including stories/ material on lived experience) to inform the Life Beyond COVID initiative.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 31 August.

If you have any questions or would like any further information, contact Alex McMillan: mcmillana@parliament.uk

New WEAll Briefing paper published today:

‘With your support we kept going, what else were we to do?’ Linwood as a microcosm of the beginnings of a wellbeing economy (click to download PDF)

By Katherine Trebeck, WEAll Advocacy and Influencing lead with Kirsty Flannigan and Jim Boyle

For any new idea to be supported, let alone adopted, it needs to be visualised.

Sometimes that is via story telling that offers a coherent and compelling narrative. Sometimes that will be by seeing the idea played out in practice and getting a sense of what it looks and feels like.

Ideally, it will be both.

This applies to the diverse movement working to build a wellbeing economy: we need to work upwards from practical experience and outwards from conversations that open up people’s sense of the possibility that the economy can operate for, rather than against, humanity.

Rarely though (under the current economic system), is it possible to see the richness of an idea embodied in so many dimensions in one place. Fortunately, in Linwood, a town of just over ten thousand people on the outskirts of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, efforts to build what can be described as a wellbeing economy can be seen in action.

The Linwood story encompasses not just what a wellbeing economy might entail, but also why such a new economic model needs to be built, in Linwood and beyond.

In many ways, the story of Linwood reflects the story of the global economy. It has powerful actors in the form of corporate and institutional protagonists. And it has those who suffer from an economic model misaligned with what people need: local families who just want to get on with their lives and buy produce locally, play football on local pitches, share a cup of coffee together in a local cafe, and feel that the economy with which they interact is working for them.

The characters in Linwood’s story include heroic women fighting against an impersonal bureaucracy. It has heartache and triumphs, and its long history is still ongoing with the possibility of another instalment just around the corner.

Rather than telling the story of Linwood in a chronological sense, its story of the last few decades is set out here via challenges and objectives that will be familiar to those in the wellbeing economy movement around the world:

  • Deep systemic causes beyond the manifest symptoms
  • Local perseverance in resisting an imposed and inappropriate agenda, but so often coming up against power and system intransigence
  • The cultivation of business models that are designed for social benefit
  • Bottom up economic development; and
  • A bold new vision for how the economy can operate.

Together, the story of Linwood provides hope that a wellbeing economy can be built in the face of system resistance, by a few determined people with their eyes set on an economy that works for them.

Download the full paper here.

Image: Linwood CDT

By Isabel Nuesse and Robert Wanalo

Makerspaces have the potential to transform local communities by solving local challenges using global resources. But how are these makerspaces created in a way that ensures lasting sustainability? How do they integrate local knowledge, preserve the environment and build the capacity of the community? These are integral pieces in thinking about “Sustainable Making” and how to influence a global movement of thinkers, doers and creatives to consider these questions before they develop their local maker spaces. 

In December 2019, a group of global makers convened at the DOTS conference to discuss what Sustainability as a principle means for the makerspace movement, and what ‘Sustainable Making’ as a field of practice would be. Being true to the saying that “Systemic problems require systemic solutions,” we sought to present Sustainable making as a set of connected concepts rather a single ‘big idea’. Below, you will find the outline of the first of five principles.

  1. Make things that make sense:  Create products and solutions that solve fundamental, real-world problems.  

The ideology behind the open source knowledge and distributed manufacturing movement is fundamentally disruptive and revolutionary. It seeks to establish a globally distributed knowledge and design commons that supports localized production of value in communities across the world. This means that the makerspace movement is on a mission to democratize the global manufacturing industry by increasing access to knowledge, skills, and tools that enable those who had largely been left out to engage in production and commerce. Democratization in this case goes hand in hand with Localization, in that  production of goods is being supported to occur in proximity to the communities and places where they are most needed. This would result in shorter supply chains, and production that is more context specific, and highly responsive to local challenges.  This is the precise intention behind Principle 1; that making should be informed by the local context in question and thus seek to address the challenges at hand.  

Case study: Inclusivity Innovation in the Health Sector. 

Broadly speaking, access to quality and affordable healthcare is a global phenomenon, and the challenge varies from place to place. When we factor in the physical limitations of persons with special needs and the products available, it may either be too expensive or may not entirely meet their needs. Careables, is a global platform run by an interdisciplinary team which creates, shares and supports the production of  open solutions that aim to improve the quality of life for people with unmet needs or facing physical limitations. They do this by facilitating collaboration between local communities of citizens with disabilities, healthcare professionals and makers/designers to co-design and develop open-source interventions and solutions that meet the needs of persons with disabilities. Whether it is the use of 3D printing to produce specialized orthopedic braces for children with neurological challenges in Milan, Italy, or convening and hosting healthcare hackathons with diverse stakeholders in various cities like Kumasi, Ghana, or creating open access to their designs, handbooks, reports and “how-to” guides on their website, Careables is an  example of makers using digital technologies to create real social impact.

2. Integrate Local Knowledge: Build from within the community by working with local practices, materials and traditional resources.

During a conversation with Jon Stever, co-founder of Innovation for Policy Foundation, discussing his and his teams work on policy reform in various countries across Africa, we talked particularly about what it means to design ‘with’ and not ‘for’, how to engage communities with humility and respect, and the various processes available out there to facilitate this. At some point, a quote came up which succinctly captures what inclusivity represents; “If you do something FOR me, but WITHOUT me;  you do it AGAINST me.” Participation is empowerment, and empowered participation is democracy. Integrating the culture, local knowledge, lived experience and perspective of the communities we work in and with is essential for social innovation. 

The Innovation for Policy Foundation is a pan-African organization whose work involves developing and deploying methodologies and technologies that support more effective policy reform through discourse and public participation. Their platform pursues the crowd sourcing of input from local communities of “policy users” (those most affected by a particular public policy). Being able to contribute to the formulation of policies that you are passionate about through your smartphone or the comfort of your home is a great departure from when national and local governments would host events in different cities and towns; an expensive and tedious affair. The i4Policy team have supported participatory policy reform processes in 11 countries and trained government and ecosystem leaders in more than 20 countries in Africa to great effect. Most recently, their work led the co-creation of the Senegal Startup Act in December 2019.  

i4Policy is redefining what civic engagement means in the continent. They are currently hosting a public consultation of the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto using their open source policy consultation software. Shape your policies now: https://i4policy.org/manifesto.

 

At the DOTS conference in December 2019, we joined a working group whose aim was to find out how makerspaces are could amplify the level of impact they are already creating in the communities in which they exist across the world. We articulated these findings in 5 Principles of Sustainability, which are as follows:

 

  • Make things that make sense:  Create products and solutions that solve fundamental, real-world problems.  
  • Integrate Local Knowledge:  Design with the community, leveraging on local knowledge and experience, as well as the local resources & assets available.
  • Include Ecosystem Services: Aim to give back more than you take from the environment and include accounting practices that value the natural resources used.
  • Build for Continuity: Design for the present and future; build social capacity, & aim for financial self sufficiency.
  • Share How You Make: Develop a set of guidelines that provide a framework for openly documenting everything about the making of the project. 

 

These principles provide a framework for makerspaces around the globe to consider in their development, operations, and  strategy. Not only do these spaces provide opportunity for communities to revitalize their local economies, but it inherently builds an economy that enables communities to be self-reliant. 

Over the next few weeks, WEAll will be publishing a blog series that showcase different case studies from groups that are a part of the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG), and The r0g Agency for Open Culture and Critical Transformation.

What exactly is a wellbeing economy and how can we put it into practice?

What are the options and what is the path that makes sense in each particular business context?

‘The Business of Wellbeing: a guide to the alternatives to business as usual’ is a new publication launched today by WEAll. It aims to answer these questions, and to inspire decision makers at small- to mid-sized organisations to explore the wellbeing economy space.

It includes:

  • Analysis of the dimensions businesses need to deal with when trying to contribute to building a wellbeing economy, from leadership to accounting for impact;
  • Case studies of pioneering businesses to inspire what’s possible;
  • Expert views on how to navigate transformation;
  • A self-assessment tool to help decision makers plan their next steps.

The guide was created through a participatory process, with a steering group of business and wellbeing economy experts.

Ten stakeholder interviews were carried out to gather input from different solutions providers and to give us insights on challenges facing decision makers.

The guide doesn’t aim to give a complete overview of solutions – but it does shine a spotlight on a selection of those we believe could be useful on your journey.

The guide was facilitated and co-designed with SenseTribe Consulting.

Download the PDF guide here – or explore extracts in our dedicated Business of Wellbeing web portal.

Tony’s Chocolonely was founded 13 years ago by journalist Teun van de Keuken. Teun was shocked to discover that much of the chocolate sold in supermarkets was made by people working in slave like conditions. When he tried to discuss the situation with chocolate makers, many declined to discuss the issue.

Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

Malpractices in the cacao industry drove me to set up Tony’s. Many plantations in Western Africa practice slavery and child labour even today. That’s what we want to help to prevent.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

 

Being a journalist, Teun had investigated the number of children working on cocoa farms and how many were working under illegal and dangerous conditions. This was what motivated him to create Tony’s. 

From the outset, it was clear that a mission to eradicate modern slavery from all chocolate production went way beyond measuring Tony’s direct impact.

 

Alone we make slave-free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100% slave-free. One of the main things we’ve learnt along the way is how difficult it is to change an industry. After 11 years we’re not there yet. We’re actively seeking partners who apply our model.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

Tony’s strategy roadmap to achieve the goal of 100% slave-free chocolate consists of three pillars: 

Extract from Tony’s Chocolonely annual report 2018/2019

It is these three pillars that form the measurable impact of Tony’s Chocolonely. The company also follows the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines for sustainable reporting as well as the usual financial accounting metrics. he metrics relating to their roadmap are their clear indicators of impact and success. In their 2018/19 annual report, this meant 13 key metrics linked to the three pillars.

The newest of these metrics is linked to the third pillar and is all about the start of Tony’s Open Chain, an open source platform where chocolate companies can access the necessary knowledge and tools to improve their supply chain. 

On its own, a certification label does not enable farmers to live above the poverty line and provide a decent income for their families. The way we see it, chocolate makers are responsible for their chocolate supply chain – not the certification inspector.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

 

Tony’s Chocolonely

Critically, Tony’s recognises that it cannot do it all by itself and its business goal can only be achieved in collaboration with others. This it acknowledges in the way it reports its impact, highlighting the contribution of others.

In 2018/2019 Tony’s Chololonely expanded to 143 employees with a revenue of roughly 70 million euros. Over 53 million of this revenue came from the home market of the Netherlands, and the business is now looking into international expansion. Take a look at the latest annual report here to find out more about the size and complexity of the problem, about what is going well for the business and what still needs to be improved. 

 

  • This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here
  • To stay informed of the release of each extract, please sign up to our newsletter here.

Maroma was founded in the late 1970s by Paul Pinthon and Laura Reddy and is now a multi-million dollar business with over 80 staff. The Indian business sells home fragrance and body care products: incense, candles, aromatic essence, reed diffusers, room fresheners, votive, candles, gift sets, potpourri, fragranced mats, perfume spirals and perfumed sachets.

The Auroville community owns all shares in Marona. While the CEOs of Maroma are founders and follow the charter of Auroville, along with the other business owned by the community, Maroma’s employees have the autonomy to run and manage the business.

Maroma’s profits constitute its contribution to the Auroville Foundation. These funds serve to finance and create infrastructure assets in the sector of road building, water and sanitation, power (including from alternate sources such as solar, wind and biomass), as well as telecommunication, and housing for Auroville residents.

Erinch Sahan, World Fair Trade Organisation

“Maroma is a quintessential example of an enterprise fully embedded in its community. It has a governance and business model that locks-in its social mission. After 40 years of serving its community, Maroma demonstrates the resilience of the Fair Trade Enterprise model. It shows that business can be designed to put people and planet ahead of growing its own profits.”
Erinch Sahan, CEO, World Fair Trade Organisation

 

 

Maroma aims to achieve a balanced relationship with its suppliers through selecting suppliers that are able to offer products that match product specifications but allowing suppliers to set their own prices. If suppliers get into economic difficulties, Maroma looks to support them to move through those difficult times.

Maroma is verified by the World Fair Trade Organization as a social enterprise that fully practices Fair Trade. This means they structured as a mission-led enterprise as well as implementing the 10 Fair Trade Principles in all their operations and supply chains.

Find out more about Maroma in this World Fair Trade Organisation podcast.

  • This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here
  • To stay informed of the release of each extract, please sign up to our newsletter here.

At the end of 2017, Auchrannie resort on the island of Arran in Scotland became the first Scottish resort to transition to a model of employee ownership. A trust now owns 100% of the company’s shares on behalf of its 160 employees.

The co-founder, and Managing Director since 2010, Linda Johnston said of the employees in relation to the transfer:

“They realise that what each of them does will affect the future success of the business and that this is directly linked to their own success, so they have already become more engaged in making the business better and understand the power and influence each and every one of them now has on their own future.”

 

New targets for the business

New efficiency targets for the business, agreed by the ‘new owners’, created the conditions to become a Real Living Wage Accredited Employer in April of 2018.

While the efficiency targets helped boost profitability, paving the way for the introduction of the Real Living Wage, there was also a recognition that the introduction of the wage would in and of itself support further financial benefits. These included lower staff recruitment costs (due to higher retention), greater productivity and increased occupancy from an improved reputation.

Linda Johnston, MD of Auchrannie resort

“Employee ownership will give the whole Auchrannie team a stake in the continued growth of the business. All of us will work together to build a more efficient, sustainable and profitable business.”
explains Linda Johnston

 

Since the acquisition of a 16-room guest house in 1988 by Linda and her late husband Iain, the resort has become home to two 4-star hotels, 30 5-star self-catering lodges, 14 luxury ‘Retreats’, two leisure clubs, 3 restaurants, children’s playbarn, a destination spa and outdoor adventure company.

 

Ownership transfer as an exit strategy

The ownership transfer was born of a desire for an exit strategy by the Johnston family (sole owners of the resort) that would allow the business to continue to flourish as well as upholding the ethos of the company, maintaining and motivating the team plus continuing the community’s access to the facilities of the resort.

“We are confident that the collective efforts of our fantastic team will continue to strengthen Auchrannie’s customer care and community focus as well as improving the sustainability of the business going forward.”
adds Linda Johnston, MD and former owner of the resort

Crucially, the transfer arrangements were designed for it to be affordable to the business to be able to reinvest in the future as well as financially reward the employees after the transfer. The previous shareholders will be paid out of the profits of the business over the next 25 years.

  • This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here
  • To stay informed of the release of each extract, please sign up to our newsletter here.

 

Together with a number of local and international stakeholders and investors, Futuro Forestal developed the ‘generation forest‘, a combination of the dynamics of a natural forest and reforestation.

This combined approach allows the organisation not only to tackle climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and ensuring biodiversity, recover soils and water sources, it also helps to make a viable business case that reduces poverty locally by making sustainable forestry possible and economically viable. 

Andreas Eke, Futuro Forestal

“The natural forest in itself doesn’t have a viable business case, and political and financial entities lack the ability to create a system where environmental services are paid for.” Andreas Eke, Director of Futuro Forestal

Even though the company is largely driven by foreign impact investments, the business model ensures long-term profitability. Futuro Forestal attempts to be a game changer for the forestry sector:

“Generation forest is a concept, not a product. We need others to use it, so we can be on time with climate change. Our work is a small drop into the ocean and we have to be successful with what we are doing, so others copy what we do.” explains Andreas Eke.

With alarming climate change data, Futuro Forestal is in the process of expanding its approach through land ownership in addition to forest management and environmental services provision, creating an asset in which to invest.

What does success mean at Futuro Forestal?

 

“The biggest success moment for me was when the Jaguars came back to an area where we had reforested; an area that had been a cattle field 5 years ago. That was a moment of plain fulfilment, we celebrated this moment with champagne.” remembers Andreas Eke.

Futuro Forestal started off as a small family retail forestry company that has, over the last 25 years, transitioned to one of Latin America’s largest and premier providers of tropical hardwood, with reforestation of over 9000 hectares, the creation of 4,500 hectares of private reserves and FSC and bcorp certification. Find out more about generation forest and how to support the initiative here.

Images in this article: Copyright FF, 2 and credits to 3 Emir Lebedev.

To stay informed of the release of each extract, please sign up to our newsletter here.

This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here