When we began the Local Entrepreneur Forum in 2012, we were inspired by the idea that if we created a space for creative change makers, social and green entrepreneurs, catalysts and enablers, investors and other supporters, something good would happen. It did. We have discovered that it forms the heart of a new model of community-led economic development – one that’s inclusive, fair, regenerative, resilient and accountable.

After four, LEFs – our fifth one is May 12 – we’ve had about 500 participants, 18 projects pitch, leading to over £70,000 financial capital raised, several new jobs created, and huge array of ‘in kind investment’ from mentoring to professional services to use of land to home cooked meals. This is community supported entrepreneurism.

2015 Local Entrepreneur Forum – Wrap Up

LEF4_ad_smOnce again, the Local Entrepreneur Forum, held this past May 2015, was a fantastically full day. We hope you came away with the knowledge you looking for, met the people you wanted to meet, and connected in ways that support you now and in the future. We’ve collected below some of the outputs and other information from the day to help you keep the momentum.

Thanks again for participating and see you next year!
– the Totnes REconomy Project team.

The fabulous pitchers: Our pitchers were great, weren’t they?

The Bank of Devon – if you are interested in keeping up with this very exciting project, you should attend this event: Local Banks for a Local Economy, coming up July 10 in Plymouth. More details, here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/local-banks-for-a-local-economy-tickets-17352179837

Photos – We’ve posted photos of LEF4 right here: http://tinyurl.com/nmhhev2

8:30am Breakfast Club – hosted by Grown in Totnes, who pitched at LEF3.  Enjoy a hearty, stick to your ribs oat-filled breaky – only £2.

9:30am the day begins…

  • The Bank of Devon?Tony Greenham, new economics tony_gfoundation – what would it mean to have a regional bank serving the interests of the community and how do we make it happen? An inspiring proposal.
  • oana_nCrowdfunding the FutureOana Neumayer, BuzzBnk Our good friends BuzzBnk are hosting the crowdfunding campaign for Grown in Totnes. Oana will talk about how crowdfunding is powering the rising ‘for community benefit’ economy.
  • fiona_wREconomy all over the worldFiona Ward, REconomy Project Many innovations start in Totnes, it seems.  Other local ‘REconomy Projects’, just like in Totnes, are popping up all over the world, from Japan to the US to Brazil to Portugal to Sweden – you get the idea.
  • Be Like a Bee – Super fun and super productive. Share needs and offers. Meet people you need to meet. Learn what you need to learn. A most important part of the day. Sessions will include:
    – Action Learning –  Alison Theaker will run a taster session on ‘action learning’ in advance of the new action learning set starting up at the REconomy Centre, May 21
    Sources of Finance – Fraser Durham will share his research on close to 300 sources of finance for social/sustainable/community enterprises.
    – Atmos Totnes – Want to locate your business at Atmos? Come meet Atmos reps who will be ready to discuss the possibilities.
    School for Social Entrepreneurs – SSE maven Dirk Rohwedder will offer information on their programmes
  • Local lunch from the fabulous, The Kitchen Table
  • Is Alternative, Democratic, Community Finance Possible? – Organisers of TRESOC, Transition Homes, and Plough & Share share their stories of challenge and success.
  • The Community of Dragons – pitching for local support and investment: The Green Funeral Company, Dartmoor Pony Training Centre, Wild & Curious, Student-led project from KEVICC

4:00pm After party, hosted by New Lion Brewery, who pitched at LEF1, featuring a special craft brew.

2014 Local Entrepreneur Forum

The Living Projects pitching at the 3rd annual Local Entrepreneur Forum

The Living Projects pitching at the 3rd annual Local Entrepreneur Forum

This year’s Local Entrepreneur Forum on May 13th was a massive success.  A big thank you to all who participated!

Over 130 entrepreneurs and their supporters converged on the Civic Hall for a full day of networking, learning and investing, with five plucky entrepreneurs walking away with pledges of funding, mentoring, labour, legal and marketing services, massage training, event organising, and even home-cooked meals.

Check out this short film from Emilio Mula and Nu-Projecthttp://vimeo.com/101401822

See images on our Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/rpleft

  • 2014 pitchers:
  • Holly Tiffen, Grown in Totnes
    A TTT project that seeks to broaden the range of local produce grown and sold in the local area.  It’s all starting with oats! We are working with a local farmer, to develop a market for Totnes grown and processed oats.  Oats grow very well in our damp climate but there is currently nowhere that you can buy oats that are both grown and processed in the South West.
  • Zav Bowden, Dart Valley Timber
    ‘Dart Valley Timber’ is a (new) mobile sawmilling operation, suited to(or designed for) the timber available in the area. It can cut to order but will also dry and season timber, meeting the demands of local natural builders, woodworkers and craftspeople. And supply some really good firewood!
  • Doug King-Smith, HillyField CIC – www.thehillyfield.co.uk
    Every Drop makes a Difference!  Support truly sustainable British Woodland Regeneration on Dartmoor, by harnessing energy from the river to add value to timber, provide educational opportunities, and help realise a fossil fuel free forestry & farming future at The Hillyfield.
  • Fraser Durham, Argand Solutions – www.argandsolutions.com
    Argand Solutions is a solutions-led energy monitoring business based in Totnes. We design and build solutions that enable commercial & industrial clients to reduce energy consumption and generate energy more effectively through smart data visualisation & analysis.
  • Charlie Burls, Elliot Smith, et al., The Living Projects
    The Living Projects is a youth-led initiative blazing a trail to find innovative ways to help young people access land, housing,  real-life skills and purposeful work. We want to help make Totnes a town where young people have opportunities, can afford to live here, and are supported and inspired by the people in their lives. Our vision is opening up town and land-based community space, facilitating young people’s initiative to create viable and sustainable futures for themselves and their communities, and unleashing their creativity, talents and dreams along the way.


2013 Local Entrepreneur Forum

Read about the 2013 event in Rob Hopkins blog and check out what participants said in this video.


School Farm CSA – School Farm CSA is a community supported market garden on the Dartington Estate, south Devon. It was established to contribute to the high demand for local, organic, ecologically-grown vegetables and fruit in the Totnes and Dartington area. Laura talks about her experience, pitching at the 2nd LEF in 2013: https://youtu.be/yGmhZnhBnJ0

Transition Homes – Transition Homes Community Land Trust has been working now for five years to develop low impact housing for local people in housing need which demonstrates transition ideals. They’ve just applied for planning permission (circa Dec. 2015). Here’s Chris sharing his experience at LEF2: https://youtu.be/AXJ77yRhuCU

TotnesArts Hub – It’s a cooperative seeking to establish a work hub for artists and makers, including studios, workshops and messy space.

Totnes Mosaic – Mosaic aims to bring a flexible, playful, multi-use space to Totnes High St, hosting educational projects and live performance in a fresh, urban setting. Eat, drink and buy local or hold your own event and be part of the Mosaic.

 2012 Local Entrepreneur Forum

Read about the 2012 event in Jay Tompt’s blog  


GroCycle  – GroCycle is an award winning social enterprise pioneering the growing of Oyster mushrooms from waste coffee grounds. Here, Adam and Eric talk about pitching and their phenomenal growth: https://youtu.be/HzH-7aN8mk4

New Lion Brewery – As a craft brewery, we will be an ale alchemist, mixing cutting edge technology  with history. As a social enterprise, we will run the business not just for profit but also to benefit the community. Here’s Rob talking about pitching: https://youtu.be/ciOilJyjRPY

Babes in the Woods – Hen parties in the wilds of Devon.

Plough & Share Credit Union – The Mission of the Plough & Share Credit Union is to work towards the financial inclusion of all. Here’s Mark Burton, PSCU chair, talking about his experience pitching for support at the LEF: http://bit.ly/1pfPLZK

The Land Society – We support people in housing need in towns and villages to self build their own affordable home.