Space for Ingenious 2020 Winner, Uproot Urban Farms making an Impact in the time of
Manila, Philippines— Jan 29, 2020, Uproot Urban Farms was declared Winner of the Space for Ingenious (SFI) Program, a partnership incubation program dedicated to recognize startups making a social impact. Forerunners of this program are KMC Solutions, the largest Flexible and Virtual offices and HR Staffing provider in the Philippines and Impact Hub Manila, the only social and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) driven incubator in the Philippines.
As the Philippines battles the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), continuous food supply is threatened as quarantine measures are put in place to curb the spread of the virus. Travel restrictions, particularly in and out of Metro Manila, poses a challenge for farmers and consumers alike as mobility for fresh produce becomes limited. One of the first responders to address this food supply challenge is Uproot Urban Farms.
Through Uproot’s vegetable subscription model, “veggie subscribers” get to order fresh vegetables from Uproot’s online “GROWcery shop,” and have these delivered right at their doorstep. This online vegetable shop connects households to farmers in Uproot’s partner farms, and its own urban farms, dubbed “grow hubs.”
“We are able to feed hundreds of people just in a span of one and a half week. A lot of them are the most vulnerable ones, senior citizens, who cannot go out, or have no access to go to the supermarket,” said Uproot’s founder, Robi Del Rosario.
Del Rosario and his friends pooled together their own vehicles to serve as delivery fleet for the growing demand during the quarantine period. Riders go around Metro Manila delivering fresh produce straight from the farms in and outside of the metro. Del Rosario also personally delivers goods to senior citizens who have no means to go out and get fresh food for themselves.
Bringing nutritious food closer to every Filipino
Uproot is a social enterprise that aims to address various dimensions of food security which includes environment and socio-economic impact. The startup enables people in urban areas to grow their own high nutritious food by capacitating them with necessary skills. Primarily, Uproot helps provide livelihood, and introduces communities to the use of innovative solutions such as aquaponics, a system that combines aquaculture and planting using water instead of soil.
“Our goal is to grow fresh food closer to the people that consume it, lessen carbon footprint, and create a thriving economy at the barangay level through our veggie subscription, link communities to businesses, [and] create an economy that benefits all – consumers, communities, and the environment,” Del Rosario said.
Grains and vegetables are available at the Uproot online shop where buyers can subscribe to a regular supply of fresh harvest. Customers can also avail an assortment of vegetables packed in a ‘bayong’ (market bag) sorted according to the buyers’ needs.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has also intensified its push for more localized food production through urban farming, in an effort to cushion the negative effects of COVID-19 in the country’s food security, especially in Metro Manila.
“We need to promote proper implementation of urban agriculture in the metropolis so that when there is tightening of food supply from the provinces, there will be enough in urban areas as well,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
Scaling business for greater impact
Social innovations such as Del Rosario’s Uproot Urban Farms started with an idea stemming from an identified need in the society. But turning such ideas into tangible solutions, and even into a viable and scalable business, entails serious work. This is where incubation programs, such as SFI, help entrepreneurs.
The program was born from the partnership of workspace provider KMC Solutions and global innovators network, Impact Hub Manila (IHM). SFI puts together essential skills training and mentorship program to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses and deliver greater impact.
“No matter how great you think your idea is, it won’t really matter if you don’t execute it,” said Del Rosario.
Like Uproot that won in the last SFI program, a selected startup goes through mentoring and incubation to support them in operations, business modelling, marketing, and strategy, among others. IHM and KMC combine their respective networks and expertise through SFI to enable more entrepreneurs to grow their business ideas and create greater social value.
For more entrepreneurship programs, check out Generation Impact Fellowship for innovative ideas that will contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
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