Community of Dragons Spreads the Wealth at LEF5

Over a hundred people gathered at Totnes Civic Hall on Thursday May 12th, for a day supporting local social enterprise at the Local Entrepreneur Forum, hosted by Transition Town Totnes’ REconomy Project. After two inspiring speakers, including the new CEO of Dartington Hall Trust Rhodri Samuel, and an afternoon of discussion and networking, it was down to business and the Community of Dragons, where local people invest time, money and skills into local ethical businesses.

Four happy local entrepreneurs - Iola, Marie, Jack, and Sima.
Four happy local entrepreneurs – Iola, Marie, Jack, and Sima.

There were four people pitching for financial and practical support this year, from Iola Weir’s theatre arts start up and her vision to create local livelihoods amid a flourishing regional arts and culture scene, to Sima Cutting’s Totnes-based and expanding sustainable catering company The Kitchen Table that supports local producers and raising awareness of important food system issues, to Marie Franco and her expanding horsemanship training practice that offers a range of services supporting the use of horses in agriculture, health and care. Last but not least came Jack Skuse’s ‘Share in a Sheep’ scheme at Lower Sharpham Farm, a not-for-profit running UK and European training projects that help people achieve their goals for nature, science, education and employment.

Each of these projects aims to contribute positive impacts to the local community in a range of ways, from providing worthwhile employment to training opportunities, to decarbonising agriculture to providing an ethical and localised alternative to catering large and small events.

The fine detail of the pledges is still being gone through, but at a rough estimate, overall a total of 75 ‘investments’ were made, including 16 investments to this year’s pitchers from current/past pitchers. Nine ‘friendly & patient’ loan offers were made, totalling £4,000, a sum that is expected to go up substantially after follow up conversations. Gifts of money to the tune of £1,850 were also made. Fourteen ‘share in sheep’ memberships were pre-sold, guaranteeing Jack  £1,400 in pre-sales. Six days labour worth approx £600 were offered, as well as 26 offers of networking, promotion & collaboration worth approx £1,000, 16 hours of professional services worth approx £1,000. There were seven offers of equipment, either loaned or gifted, worth approx £2,000. And then there were all the hours of unpaid time that went into organising the event, totalling about £1,250, which doesn’t include the volunteer time given on the day itself, as well as an approximate value of £5000 in non-financial gifts. Bringing a preliminary total of £18,100+ investment into the local economy.

Previous projects have raised £70,000 as a direct result of pitching at the LEF, and indirectly a couple of hundred thousand have been raised, in a combination of loan, equity, grant, pre-sales, and gift. ‘Investments’ have also included offers of non-financial support, including professional business services, legal services, marketing and communications, advertising, video and radio production, mentoring and coaching, use of buildings and office space, use of land, labour, fruit trees, mulch, horse paddock, lunches, home-cooked meals, and much more; all gifted but worth thousands of pounds, and all representing an investment in the growth of the South West’s new economy.

Overall a great result for all concerned, including our local economy.  Jack Skuse summed it up by saying “We’re delighted with the pledges and have started the follow up. Nearly two weeks on and the glow of the LEF still shines – a great network and positive conversations that will I’m sure lead us further along our respective paths. For me its about developing a network with the local community and widening the opportunities for our team at the farm as well as ever important revenue; I feel we developed these at the LEF.”

For more information on this, and on plans for the next Local Entrepreneur Forum in 2017, please send an email to info@reconomycentre.org

 

Book now for LEF5 and get ‘early bird’ discount

Create you own future. Pitch at LEF5This is the 5th annual Local Entrepreneur Forum in Totnes is on and it is going to be smashing. If that’s enough for you, we’re now accepting ‘early bird’ discounted bookings, through Sunday April 10th. Go on, click it!

Want more details? Read on, or check out the full programme.

Timing – This year we’re starting the day at 2pm and will go to 10pm, which means more people can participate, especially for the Community of Dragons bit. We’re mixing a few other things up, such as more time for networking and collaborating, and a more fun evening After Party.

Rhodri Samuel, the new CEO Dartington Hall Trust, will have some very interesting things to say during his short ‘afternoon keynote’, perhaps offering a glimpse of an emerging new vision for Dartington Hall.

Invest at Local Entrepreneur ForumJonny Gordon-Farleigh, founder of Stir to Action – publisher, entrepreneur, social entrepreneur, catalyst for change, new economy organiser – all that while still in his 20s! He’s also co-founding member of the Young Cooperators Network and will share his experience during his ‘evening keynote’ as an emerging ‘new economy’ leader in the Southwest.

Pedal powered coffee from the BeanBug, lovingly prepared locally sourced cuisine from The Kitchen Table, and community supporting craft brewed ales from New Lion Brewery.

We’ll have the Needs & Offers wall and Be Like a Bee, just as we always do, so you’ll meet who you need to meet and learn what you need to learn.

The Community Dragons – we’ll have four or five projects pitch. Could it be yours? And we’re also on the lookout for projects led by young people and ready to offer a little extra support. Our deadline is April 1, so act sharpish.

After party – we’ll have NLB brews flowing and special DJ set by the Sea Change Festival.

Click here for the full programme.

** Book now and get early bird pricing for **