Our missionOur mission is to restore confidence to Irish communities by developing community supported enterprises, which will increase resilience and retained wealth in the local economy.
There is a natural disposition within Get Local toward an egalitarian and just society. From our founders, Ross Rabette and Aidan O’Brien, to every member of our project team there is a deeply held belief that this kind of society is worth working hard to achieve.
The idea for GET Local was partly inspired by successes and failures experienced in the Cloughjordan EcoVillage project. Eco Build Ireland, founder Aidan’s natural building methods company, was involved in much of the home construction in the EcoVillage. Co-founder Ross has worked in bioenergy for many years and was inspired by the community led bioenergy village movement in Germany.
Our experiences have shown that too often, worthy community-led projects fail as members run out of energy and resources to support them. For this reason we wanted to build a team that would explore ways to affect change while being able to earn a living from it.
When we embarked on the project in early 2012, we thought that the focus would be based around community energy investments or project based initiatives. As time moved on, it became clear that what was really missing were the local enterprises that allow these projects to happen. We evolved from a local, low-carbon, project based agency to an enterprise creation agency in the low carbon economy with a division to build sales for local entrepreneurs.
The problem we address
We all know the caricature of the 1950s agrarian emigrant in the cold streets of London – working on the building sites by day, drinking in the pub by night – often destitute and homeless by the time they turned fifty.
While many Irish prospered overseas, there was always a significant minority that suffered when forced to emigrate at a young age. We are now in the midst of the largest exodus from the country since the Great Famine. Today’s school leavers are headed to the mines of Australia and the bars of Toronto. Most will make a life for themselves but a significant proportion will have their lives torn asunder.
At the same time our communities are being hollowed out from the center. Our young people are leaving or are buried under mountains of debt. Over 1.6 million people are economically struggling with less than €50 disposable income left at months end. Depression, alcoholism and suicide are on the rise and becoming endemic. The very fabric of Irish life and, in effect, what it means to be Irish, is under threat.
As our human capital leaves the country so does our financial capital, and with that our identity and sovereignty. Approximately 200,000 people have left since crisis began and at the same time our national coffers are being drained of €11Bn in energy and food imports annually .
This is a bleak picture but the good news is that we can address this problem by utilizing local resources to reverse this outflow and stem the hemorrhaging of our real wealth. In doing so we can revitalize and strengthen struggling communities, build hope and confidence for the future, and reclaim our dignity and sovereignty.
The time is right for a unique solution like Get Local. With our groundbreaking business model and prescient leadership, Get Local can become a cornerstone in Ireland’s economic recovery.
We will provide expert business training, debt free working capital and an innovative end-to-end business platform to local entrepreneurs. This will allow them to take control of their destiny and provide great products and value to their communities.
Get Local has a strong team, an innovative and working solution, and the energy to carry it off. We offer you the opportunity to bring about real and lasting change in the lives of many. It will be a long but promising road to local economic sustainability and increased community vibrancy.
Our primary goals as an organization are to:
- Create a marketplace for locally produced goods and services which will reduce food and energy imports
- Facilitate the empowerment and creation of local sustainable employment in these areas
If we achieve success in getting to these goals, we will have established a viable blueprint for our mission: to reduce the outflow of wealth from the island of Ireland, and build local wealth, and a sustainable economy.
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” E. O. Wilson
We are not reinventing the wheel. We are looking wisely at the problem in front of us, applying useful innovations from around the world, and then implementing within an Irish context.
Our Food Box Scheme – the Biabox
We take our cues from established success stories from around the world, including UK based Local Food Direct and Farm Drop, Aussie Farmers Direct and Good Eggs based in San Francisco.
Ours will be one of the first fully developed local food solutions on the island of Ireland and our aim is that it will be 90% composed of locally sourced produce. We will make our solution affordable across multiple economic demographics by going deep into the supply chain. Our goal is to provide affordable, fresh, delicious food to a wide number of people and in doing so, create local sustainable employment.
Our world class food solution will help create a large captive market for the other products and services of our local entrepreneurs.
Skilled and educated people are either stagnating in the Irish welfare system or moving abroad altogether. We want to harness all this unique human potential for the betterment of the community, and for the island as a whole, before it’s lost for good! We are creating a world class entrepreneur development program where we build confidence and inspire new business creation.
We bring together the foremost experts in general and specific business skills and tailor an A-Z training program that will result in a sustainable income for our enrollees. We are different from the usual programs – we ensure success by bringing together financing, an end-to-end business platform and a captive market in conjunction with the training program to ensure success. We have already trained people through beta who are establishing businesses in following areas:
Property retrofit for increased energy efficiency
Local wood fuel supply and sales (offsetting Oil imports)
Recycle & Reuse Centers
Community energy schemes
Community Tool Libraries
The Business Platform
Many honest hard working people have ideas, skills and experience but in the end they often fail because they do not have the interest or know how to manage the business side of things. We will take away the fear factor by providing a simple to use and lean back office business solution platform. This will automatically or semi automatically handle all accounts, orders and payment processing, freeing up the entrepreneur to focus on the areas where he or she adds most value.
The Solidarity Fund
With the help of social investors from within Ireland and from the global diaspora, we give entrepreneurs the financial-kickstart needed get their project rolling and on the road to being self sustaining. Our goal is to raise a fund of $500K this year so that we can help 100 people create their own jobs. Debt free capital (average value $5K) will help establish the entrepreneur and pay for their training and initial working capital costs.
GET Local will replenish the solidarity fund with secondary re-fundraising from the entrepreneurs and their communities. We have identified an innovative way to do this. We will arrange group utility switchover events. This will enable the entrepreneurs to largely repay their loans without depleting income. This means social investment will continuously create additional in other communities down the road its impact is furthered as its capacity grows, creating a strong social return on investment.
Our development plan
Our vision is to build GET Local as a social franchise. After developing both sides of the business, we plan to allow the model to be replicated in other areas. Further business development will define the appropriate territories for new franchises to operate in. At present we believe that 6-8 branches would be appropriate for the Island of Ireland.
We have enrolled the services of Linda Stafford, a specialist in business process implementation, who will ensure that business procedures are documented in all areas of operations, and that best practice is defined and adhered to, so as to allow the enterprise to be replicable.
It is envisaged that the over time, the current management team of GET Local will step back from day to day operations, and assist new GET Local social franchises to be established. This will allow acceleration of deployment in other areas, through having fundraising needs catered for centrally, and a solid blueprint put in place for day to day operations.
The procuring and management of funds raised will be overseen by Ronan O’Dalaigh, who will take on the development of the charitable fundraising function of GET Local as an intern, as part of his final year business degree project. Ronan is being aided by his father, Tom Daly, from Third Sector Advisors, who has being acting as platform development consultant for GET Local for the last year.
Achievements to date
In the first year of development, GET Local was operating in the research phase, and used the time to carry out development work, to ascertain business models for the low carbon economy that could work locally in a recessionary environment. Out of the research came business ideas which a number of local people have taken up to develop as their own businesses, including:
A tool library – Being developed by Ger Bailey
A woodland maintenance team – Being developed by William Gleeson, Simon Hall, John Cohen
A creative reuse centre – Being developed by Claire Ni Fhearghail
A property retrofitting business – Being developed by Myles Doran and Mark Delaney
A local food distribution agency – Being developed by Donna McLoughlin
In the meantime, a number of other people have come forward for assistance, with ideas for their own enterprises, including a natural soap making business, a honey production business and a thermal window blind fabricator. After initial analysis these business appear to have potential to succeed, and will be assisted by GET Local as finances permit. The local food distribution agency has already begun trading and currently serves 40 customers, bringing them the produce of ten local food producers.
The enterprises we help develop are highly disruptive, in that they repair a broken marketplace, by exploiting the only real channel enabling their use, which is group or direct community support.
This model is thriving in Cloughjordan, home to a hot bed for innovation in the low carbon economy, and is receiving massive support in Borrisokane now too. We believe that adaptation to our energy problem in this way can be replicated virally, and the social technology we are developing is a world leading approach towards facing up to the predicament of a new environment of limited availability in fossil fuelled energy.
Our food box solution in Borrisokane received 40 pre-sales within 2 days, and we have the beginnings of success additionally in Limerick city. We hope for continued success in other locations in the near future as we develop the platform, and drive sales for local produce.
We have learned a lot from our experiences, particularly in terms of what types of businesses have a better chance of success, and what strategy will allow us to leverage ourselves with better success in the future. We have quickly learned from our mistakes and have adapted accordingly.
One such learning has been the experience with the local food distribution business: After close to two months of operations, it has become clear that GET Local will need to provide a marketing and customer outreach service to recruit customers before the local agent begins delivering produce. We have found that it is difficult for the agent to build a sufficient customer base while they are busy satisfying their current customer needs, particularly in the early phase. We have modified our model accordingly; to procure local suppliers, and build a customer base on behalf of the local agent – thus allowing them to become more established and become good and managing their customer accounts. We will refine this process as we move to build business in this and the next areas, before delegating responsibility new local sales agents. We are also in the process of developing a bespoke training course for new local sales agents in order to provide them with the tools they need to build a successful local food distribution business for themselves.