Social Enterprise Selling Fresh Produce From Rural Farmers
Faced with limited market access and unfair trade, rural farmers often end up with only 20-25% of the profits from their labor.
That’s according to Dennis, founder of Veggies.my (Veggies), a social enterprise connecting local farmers directly to urban markets through online and offline platforms.
In addition, they also deliver fruits and vegetables through a subscription model. Surplus products that are not sold are redirected to feed the poor.
Dennis told Vulcan Post that the income and profits made will be shared between their stakeholders and rural farmers, but more on that later.
A needle in a haystack
Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an abundance of players big and small to sprout up to help rural farmers sell their produce online. Being a small fry in the industry, Veggies has found several ways to stand out.
Firstly, they leverage their myGAP and myOrganic certifications to assure customers of the quality of their products.
These certifications are internationally recognized accreditations by the Malaysian Department of Agriculture (MOA).
Those who achieve this follow rural farm improvement practices through:
- A resource management system for sustainable agricultural production;
- Increase the productivity of a farm and reach urban markets;
- Reduce the use of pesticides in products; and
- Preserve the environment and protect the well-being of employees.
To achieve this, Veggies has subjected its farmer partners to a training program with myGAP and MOA to raise awareness and enforce these practices.
“The freshness, food safety and quality of the products will not be compromised. Big players entering the mass market will find it difficult to control quality, ”said Dennis.
Veggies has also implemented a rewards program that works like a points system where RM1 equals 1 point. For every 250 vegetarian points collected, customers will receive RM5 cash vouchers in return.
This loyalty program aims to build good rapport and keep customers coming back for more.
As the platform also prioritizes customer service, it will also refund or replace any damaged or spoiled merchandise reported on delivery.
Achieve target return
Compared to buying mainstream groceries like Tesco, it can cost consumers almost twice as much to buy similar products from Veggies.
For example, 1 kg of Siew Pak Choy on Tesco costs RM 5.99. If I were to get it on Veggies, the same amount can cost me RM11.60.
However, consumers who tend to buy from these social businesses rather than big brands are generally wealthier individuals.
These city dwellers can afford to spend more on groceries and Dennis knows it, which is why Veggies only delivers to areas in the Klang Valley at this time.
A percentage of these purchases will also help local B40 farmers in the low and highlands of Malaysia.
As Veggies is in fair trade, they pay their farmers an average of 40% to 50% profit margin for their labor.
Funding being limited, the social enterprise currently relies on word of mouth from its customers to promote its activities.
They would like to partner with more NGOs in cross-selling and resource sharing to provide meals to more communities B40.
In the long term, Dennis aims to export the products of his small farmers abroad. He also plans to engage with more Orang Asli communities to empower them with knowledge, skills and income from farming.
- You can read more about Veggies.my here.
- You can read more about the other startups we’ve talked about here.
Featured Image Credit: Dennis, Founder of Veggies.my
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