Does the wildflower harvesting industry need a Sustainable Flower Harvesting Assurance System – and if so, how should it be structured to add value to the industry and make business sense?
An initiative to address this is currently being led by TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now together with Flower Valley Conservation Trust, supported by the Biodiversity Component of the Western Cape Government Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (Department). The development of a sustainable wildflower harvesting assurance system is being explored in terms of the value it could bring to the industry.
A clear and viable business plan is the first step to the development of a feasible strategy for the implementation of this assurance system across the Western Cape. It forms part of the Western Cape’s Provincial Biodiversity Economy Strategy, to support and create opportunities within the green economy.
What’s the business potential?
The targeted outcome is to facilitate the development and implementation of a sustainable flower harvesting assurance system.
“This is an opportunity to create an inclusive approach to propel the industry forward. The key to the development of the assurance system is to understand the value it can bring while highlighting the uniqueness of Fynbos and the legacy of the harvesters,” said Dr Jaisheila Rajput, CEO of TOMA-Now.
According to Flower Valley’s Conservation Manager, Kirsten Watson, key stakeholders in the industry, particularly the Western Cape, are engaging in transparent discussions. “We are excited by this process – there’s extremely important information being gathered. It’s important that legislators understand the advantages, and some of the challenges currently facing the sector. The business plan will look to provide solutions to some of these challenges. So this is a powerful opportunity for the Fynbos sector.”
Albert Ackhurst, Head of Component Biodiversity at the Department, said: “The Department Environmental Affairs and Development Planning through the Biodiversity Management Unit views the project as a major step forward to ensure transformation, access to global markets and equitable trading in the natural products industry.”
Sharpening the industry’s value proposition
The dialogues themselves are being used to obtain a clearer understanding of the business potential for the assurance system. They will establish the viability of an assurance system, the benefits this will afford and ultimately, sharpen the value proposition for the industry.
The impetus of this work is based on the recognition by the Department that there is a need to effectively manage and coordinate biodiversity management in an inclusive manner. There needs to be an increase in capacity and knowledge of the requirements to competitively practice in the sector. This challenge is exacerbated by onerous and costly processes linked to attaining certification for the industry.
According to Ackhurst, “If stakeholders agree, and the business plan supports the implementation of an assurance system, the focus will be on potentially having a system that is a coordinated step-up approach in building the capacity and competence of the harvesters and farmers towards attaining compliance.”
The process will be completed by April 2019 when the outcomes, findings and reports will be communicated with organisations in the flower sector.
Can effective data management be the key to unlocking the Green Economy?
Terms like sustainability and green economy sometimes get bandied about without needed structures and frameworks to ensure that it is tangible, highly implementable and impactful. I recently had the opportunity to attend a “Use of Big Data” Symposium hosted by the ILO with interesting discussions around asking the right questions for the data to work for you. This comes off the back of a session with GIZ on “circular economy and business model design“.
As a value chain specialist, we’re often called in to develop tangible solutions that are dependent on data sets for decision making – how much / type of waste are you generating, what is your current capacity, what are forecast trends, where are the opportunities to improve your processes and what are the points to leverage in your value chain? It’s often quite concerning how little structure and verification protocols are placed behind this data. You wouldn’t do this with your financial indices, why then with your environmental data? Structured the right way, analyzing this information could provide not only insights into environmental footprint but opportunities for cost savings, new market opportunities and revenue streams.
Why is data for the Green Economy being neglected?
Some cite significant costs for implementing data management systems. Why use an ERP system when excel could easily do the job? The key really lies in how you look at data – is it part of your decision-making toolkit or is it just a prescriptive box to tick? We live in unprecedented times. Never before has so much information been available for effective decision-making but at the same time, perspectives around sustainability and green economy don’t always take full advantage of this. As a value chain specialist, we strongly rely on solid intel. We’ve seen first hand the impact and scope of possibility with companies transitioning to a waste economy or identifying guaranteed recycled content supply for their products or even developing new industries. All of this relies on good data – both quantitative and qualitative.
As with most technology, the key takeaway is not to get caught up on how fancy the tech is but to rather look at the human problem you’re trying to solve – not unlike impact considerations for the green economy.
What’s in it for me:
So here’s what I’m thinking – Developing a low cost, accessible data management tool targeting growth and development of the Green Economy in Africa is long overdue but a completely attainable target. Designed with intended useful outcomes in mind, it could be a real game-changer on how we conduct business. Who’s in this with me?
This article was previously published on LinkedIn.
About the author
Dr Jaisheila Rajput is Founder & CEO of TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now. She strongly advocates the use of green economy business models and actively supports organisations looking to rapidly innovate their business.
Jaisheila holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town.
CCDI invited Jaisheila Rajput Founder of TOMA-Now (Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now) to participate at Creative Exchange. The event focused on the link between circular economy and design thinking. The focus of the talk was the role of design thinking in the circular economy – or as Jaisheila highlighted, the Infinite Economy. Jaisheila shared insights about value chains and sustainable innovation.
Jaisheila brings a fresh global perspective to the development of solutions for companies doing business in Africa and has worked in several countries including South Africa, Germany and Hong Kong. She is passionate about developing economic models for sustainability and transforming the way we do business and is a fervent believer in developing practical and comprehensive solutions that have the biggest value with long term benefit and impacts.
Find out what Jaisheila and her team spoke about at the CCDI #CreativeExchange on Thursday, 2 June 2016.
We’ve scoured the web, spoken to our clients and partners, and reviewed past projects for Top 5 key focus areas and developing trends to safeguard a healthy, viable value chain. The list is by no means exhaustive but represents valuable lessons learned and upcoming focus areas.
- Technology as a core strategic driver
Production networks particularly those using global supply chains, can be complex, with issues related to outsourcing, safety standards and questionable environmental and labour practices. Although, smartphones and other technical systems seem like overkill, they are gaining acceptance especially regarding transparency and traceability. Aside from operational support, the big data analytics are helping with strategic areas like sustainability, accountability and marketing to interested customers. It’s no longer about collecting data but a stronger focus on using the data for driving key strategic business decisions.
- Transparency never goes out of fashion
Although this topic has been around for a while, it has recently come once more into prominence. There is an emphasis on ensuring a balance on flexibility in reducing environmental impacts while keeping in mind stakeholder demand for transparency. Continuous investigation is called for, as stakeholders demand more transparency with environmental and social impacts in the supply chain. Better traceability with improved systems helps significantly. There is a growing need to not only track where a product physically is, but if it has been modified in any way.
- Circular rather than linear chains
The idea of using circular supply chains is being driven by the circular economy. This approach is also synonymous with better asset management and working more effectively with resources. It’s focused on using a feedback loop to work with waste and recycled content as raw materials in manufacturing processes. This can act as both a challenge and opportunity with cost savings, value creation and reduced exposure to volatile commodity prices, as recently seen with fluctuations in the oil price. It does require a different, innovative way of looking at products as components rather than a single finished unit. There are a number of benefits, including enhanced environmental footprint and development of new (recycling) economies.
- Small improvements with big success
This is one of the key reasons we emphasise working with the value chain. Focus on individual parts of your chain and optimise. This holds true especially for highly complex supply chains. Working with the value chain allows for a specific focus on key areas where product value is generated. A special hyper-focus on areas of importance to the company such as carbon footprint, energy consumption or water scarcity can create a more action-oriented high impact outcome.
- Better relationships
We need to say that again – better relationships! So many potential opportunities are lost and projects break down due to a lack of trust or from simple relationship dynamics. The quality and nature of relationships have never been more important. This is the age of collaboration. More collaboration and benefit can be created with a balanced and mindful customer-supplier relationship.
Do you have your own Top 5 key focus area we should include? What else should we incorporate as a priority? Contact us to share your lessons learned.
What are the benefits to integrated reporting, aside from stakeholder communication? Pieter Conradie, Progamme Director for Integrated Reporting at Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at University of Pretoria, talks to Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now on the role integrated reporting can play in driving the Green Economy in South Africa.
Performing a value chain analysis is no longer the domain of seasoned businesses or corporate players. Small businesses and start-ups can likewise use it as a strategic growth tool. Tomorrow Matters Now | TOMA-Now recently worked with the New Economy Accelerator | NEA, a social impact growth accelerator, to offer a 2-day module in their accelerator program, on mapping the value chain.
NEA supports entrepreneurs targeting and / or operating in low-income areas (base of the pyramid). Their aim is to activate local economies in South Africa to build an inclusive and prosperous society. They provide business training and support, one-on-one business coaching, access to peer mentors as well as access to investment networks for social and environmental high impact start-up enterprises servicing the base of the pyramid sector.
We used a structured approach to introduce the concept of value chain analysis with a gradual development towards growth and sustainability. Some of the topics covered include,
- Defining the value chain: what is it? Difference between supply chain and value chain.
- Understanding where you fit into the value chain.
- What are the drivers both upstream and downstream from your business?
- Developing an integrated approach: Does your product address drivers and gaps in your value chain?
Value chain journey
The workshop was designed with a progressive approach on developing participants understanding and ability to examine their value chains. For the purpose of this workshop, value chain analysis was used as a tool to address gaps in the entrepreneur’s business development and identify opportunities for growth. This process relies on the basic understanding of key business driver concepts such as identifying what metrics are appropriate for your business as well as being aware and acting on externalities that impact the business.
During the group work exercises and feedback sessions, entrepreneurs were guided to developing concrete action plans from analysis of their value chains. They were trained on how to obtain clarity in their service offering and business processes. A further positive was the identification of business synergies amongst participants.
Encouraging the entrepreneurs to move outside their comforts zones assisted the participants to grow and look at their businesses from a different perspective. This approach was effective as selected entrepreneurs used the opportunity to create a sounding board for their current businesses or plans for growth. Participants developed concrete actions plans to follow up on completion of the module. An accountability plan set in place by the NEA, will be able to measure growth of participants after the module.
The entrepreneurs communicated the value of the module and that it was fitting to learn the concept of utilizing the value chain for growth and sustainability in the new economy they are pioneering. We enjoyed watching the participants adopt the concept of value chain thinking and create action plans for their business growth. The approach taken is not unlike that followed by larger organisations with a focus on staying agile in the market place. We look forward to these pioneering social impact entrepreneurs using their value chains to grow and create more opportunity locally.
Have a similar story you’d like to share or like to map your value chain? Email us or please let us know in the comments section.
Dean Muruven, WWF South Africa Water Source Areas Program Manager, talks to TOMA-Now about the development of the water value chain as a means of addressing water scarcity in South Africa. He discusses how business can play a pivotal role in securing the water value chain. Dean also presents some examples on WWF South Africa’s current and future work on water security and development of the biomass industry value chain.
Industry expert and Responsible Sourcing Manager at Woolworths Foods, Tom Mclaughlin, chats with TOMA-Now on the importance of the value chain to Woolworths. Tom shares an interesting example and gives advice to those wanting to develop their own value chains – focus on risk management and collaboration!