Live commercial pilots to find a people and planet friendly growth model
Good Growth is a system refined through live commercial pilots
Designing value chains to be wholly regenerative is not easy.
Every element and every partner needs to be integrated, all incentives and activities aligned. So we are refining our blueprint through live pilots, whilst also undertaking research and development into "build out" activities enabling us to work in more ecosystems and across more product categories.
The value chains we design put regenerative development in the heart of the business - the cost of regeneration is central to our cost of production. And the benefits of restoring environmental health are central to our brands and our consumer proposition.
Our products are valuable because of their regenerative impact.
What we do - 1: science - work out what regenerative development means
We have assembled a world class collaboration of scientists - experts in wildlife, biodiversity, soil and pasture health, livestock management - and teamed them up with socio-economic experts to define within each place we work, exactly what needs to be done to restore the environmental health of that place.
This group is called ERA - the "ecosystem regeneration alliance" - and they are responsible for ensuring that every aspect of the Good Growth Company is regenerative from the get-go. Not just what we do in Mongolia, Patagonia, Cambodia or Scotland, but how the chain operates from end to end.
The aim is first to arrest degradation, and then to reverse it. Monitoring outcomes is a critical challenge, and we are combining satellite monitoring with on ground verification to ensure that we know in depth the state of the rangeland. Much of the work we will undertake in Deluun builds upon the work done in the South Gobi Cashmere Project.
Our key partners in ERA are the Altai Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, the Natural Capital project from Stanford University, NASA, and the Good Economy.
Bringing the cost of the science into the business is a major shift in business orthodoxy, which ordinarily sees science as the preserve of NGOs.
What we do - 2: impact - make regenerative farming valuable
ERA also works with the humans in the ecosystem to help them to become agents of environmental restoration.
The critical component is changing the economic incentives for farmers and herders - unhooking incomes from scale (more animals, more money) and instead ensuring wellbeing and livelihoods for herders so they are equipped to look after the ecosystem.
We are delivering an income scheme for herders linked to regenerative activities that combines:
direct purchase of fibre + a universal basic income + a profit sharing scheme
We also commit to take 100% of the core materials from the herders and to create value from the entire stock of material.
This provides both income and certainty for the herders/farmers and makes regeneration valuable. By having brands engage directly with herders the relationship becomes a partnership, not transactional. Further it ensures impeccable source of origin credentials for the brands.
Ensuring herder livelihoods so that they can restore the ecosystem internalises impact into our business model. The activities and costs of regeneration shape the product mix and the consumer proposition. This hardwires impact into the business in a way that we believe has not been done before.
What we do - 3: product - products to restore ecosystems
We are starting commercial operations with cashmere, yak, and sheep fibre from Chigertei; and in parallel a value chain for wild-sheared guanaco fibre from Patagonia, which WCS has been developing for over ten years. We will develop the fibre into superfine products brought to market through two brands - navygrey and Khunu - and will develop a new range of products from coarser fibre - sleeping bags, mattresses, bedding, curtains, horse blankets - to realise value for currently low-value fibre. This coarser fibre brand we will call “Chigertei”.
Our brands unit is called Origins, and Rachel Carvell-Spedding, founder of navygrey is the CEO.
We are aiming to get our first products to market in 2021. We will start by purchasing fibre from Chigertei (approximately 6 tons in 2021) and restarting a Guanaco wild shearing scheme in Patagonia in 2021.
In parallel we are developing the Ibis Rice brand (including their amazing pepper rice cakes) which has a strong track record in reversing deforestation in northern Cambodia.
Ultimately we wish to combine both fibre and food product categories as commercialisation opportunities in each of the ecosystems we work in.
Unlike orthodox businesses, our product mix is determined by what's good for the ecosystem, not from the market in. Every product has impeccable source of origin as it never leaves our chain. We are especially thrilled to partner with South of Scotland Enterprise to build a dedicated manufacturing cluster working exclusively with source of origin fibre. We will provide more information on this when we have finalised the specification and plan for the cluster.
What we do - 4: consumer - value from source of origin
Our consumer value creation strategy is to reinforce and amplify the source of origin.
We are tapping into growing consumer demand for impeccably sustainable products and brands - demand that is often frustrated by existing channels and opaque propositions. Much of what we are doing is actually to pilot ways of making consumption explicitly regenerative.
Our market bet is that by combining impeccable source of origin credentials with a groundbreaking “regeneration” story that goes way beyond mere ‘sustainability’ we will create deep and special consumer connections. This is a proposition that appeals both to people seeking reliably sustainable and ethical products (growing all the time) as well as to people who feel a sense of kudos by buying products that are “regenerative” not “extractive”.
In pilot phase we will be selling through the brands online channels, as well as roadtesting a physical location for all Good Growth products in Scotland and Melbourne.
What we do - 5: research and development
Across all parts of the operating system we have identified key research and development activities that will allow us to replicate at scale post pilot starting 2022.
Develop protocols to establish regeneration indicators, metrics, targets, and production standards in multiple locations - use basic methodology from South Gobi Cashmere Project and IBIS to finalise and refine
Develop an ecosystem monitoring system (integrated into the business cycle) - integrating satellite technology with the existing ground-based system to provide dynamic and ongoing data on ecosystem health
Operationalise a herder engagement model - use IBIS as a model and add elements of SGCP
Develop small scale batch processing technology - small washing and milling units that can operate within herding and farming communities. These eco friendly small scale units work with minimal water and avoid the harmful chemicals that typify "big" supply chains.
Design socio-economic interventions - refine SGCP income improvement schemes and add incentive schemes (e.g. universal basic income, profit sharing models)
Product development, innovative materials, and manufacturing - working with different fibres to create new products and materials and value from whole herd (coarser fibres, different animals currently neglected)
Consumer interaction and engagement - politicising consumption, certifying regeneration
Financing the whole as a system - funder interaction and engagement; innovative finance.