The A Team Challenge
The A Team Challenge was an innovative collaborative project between, The A Team Foundation, The crowdfunding platform Buzzbnk and Funding Enlightened Agriculture (FEA). It was designed to help enlightened agriculture projects set up as social enterprises, raise funds and engage with their local communities.
The aim was to provide funding and support to innovative social enterprises working to produce and distribute food in healthy, sustainable ways. We also wanted to harness the power of crowdfunding to raise finance and build a community of supporters for their ideas.
The A Team Challenge supported between 2 to 5 projects each year for the three years that the project ran.
All successful candidates were offered a crowdfunding workshop with Buzzbnk to develop the strategy and messaging of their campaigns. It was a requirement that all projects that are offered a grant/loan attend this workshop. The successful projects ran their campaigns on the Buzzbnk platform for a fixed period of time.
The A Team Foundation matched funds (through a loan or a grant) that was crowdfunded by the project.
The challenge accepted applications from enlightened food and farming projects. By “enlightened” we mean those projects that farm in a way that nurtures and protects the environment i.e. farm agroecologically, create local supply chains, increase employment and community engagement and revive local economies.
In particular the aim to support:
- organic, or biodynamic farming practice: this does not need to be certified, but applicants will need to demonstrate that they are following organic or biodynamic principles
- local food production and adding value to small-scale growing or farming enterprises e.g. micro-dairies, village bakeries, charcuteries and micro-breweries
- horticulture, especially organic horticulture, and those variants that are classed as biodynamic, or are within the broad category of permaculture
- small-scale mixed farming, again organic in principle though not needing to be certified
Organisations were based and they must be legally constituted as at least one of the following:
- a community interest company,
- a co-operative,
- a community benefit society
- a charity.
Crowdfunding has become a phenomenon over recent years, as a way for individuals to give direct support to the people and projects that they feel passionate about. In 2011 over $1billion was raised for businesses, with one project raising over $1million alone.
At the same time, it is estimated that food and farming currently receives less than 1% of income in the voluntary and charitable sector in the UK. Of this, the Government currently funds 45% of civil society work on food and farming, making the sector hugely vulnerable to cuts.
We offered an alternative, a more democratic way of raising finance, providing projects with the opportunity to gain valuable crowdfunding experience and engage their communities in providing the support that they needed.
Crowdfunding not only helps to raise financial support for an idea, but also to raise a project’s profile and build a community of committed supporters. Those who decide to support an idea, not only give money, but also help to raise awareness and champion your cause. Crowdfunding helps to prove that an idea has support from a real community of people, demonstrating the need and customer appeal, which can often help to leverage funds from other sources.
To understand more about the power of crowdfunding, here is a resource that we provided: