INSPIRED IMPACT™ gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of purpose-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Jacob Foss and I am the COO of Agricycle. Agricycle is a social enterprise that transforms natural food waste into natural food products for sale in America. We engineer and install simple machines as the vessel of this transformation. Focusing on the empowerment of women and youth, we lead trainings for communities in poverty to create opportunities to help improve their economic situation. Transforming locally sourced fruit that occurs in such abundance that a majority goes to waste not only creates a business model with essentially zero input costs, but it also helps reduce food waste benefiting the environment. The cooperatives we partner with dry a variety of organic fruit and flour to be sold to customers in the United States. Currently, we are operating in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Liberia, Haiti, and Jamaica.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY DOES THE WORLD NEED YOU?
Agricycle stands for opportunity. We stand for equality and empowerment. Far too many women in this world live their entire lives facing oppression. We stand for helping the oppressed become the empowered. There are 2.8 trillion pounds of food waste across the globe. We stand for reducing this waste and increasing nutrition and income. There are 1.5 billion smallholder farmers around the world, many of whom live below the poverty line. We stand for improving their economic situation and having them lift themselves far above that line. We stand for leaving the world better than we found it.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We are providing income for isolated rural populations in areas of poverty around the globe. We are providing the knowledge for a population to take the abundance of natural fruit that either goes to waste or sold for next to nothing, and creating a profitable business out of it. The impact of a business model with zero input costs and international sales as the output can do wonders for a population.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
The people in deserving need around the globe are our inspiration. Every time we travel to another continent, engage with another country, meet another city and train another community our inspiration heightens. It is these partnering communities that give us such inspiration and dedication to help them improve their conditions and expand to as many populations as we can. It is the looks on their faces of realizing they have found an opportunity and the only thing preventing them from cashing in on that opportunity is their effort. Not some innate environmental situation, but something within their control. It is the numerous children, who run around their community during our trainings, whose futures can greatly benefit if we run our business successfully that are our inspiration. The well being of the individuals we want to impact is our inspiration.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM, FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We want to be fully operational across the entire equator of Central America, the Caribbean and East and West Africa. We want to build partnerships with thousands of communities and reach hundreds of thousands of farmers. There are 2.8 trillion pounds of food waste every year, we want to reduce as much of that as possible. We want to eliminate the entirety of food waste derived from fruit we process in our areas of operation through conversion into usable product to feed people, generate income, enrich soil, and provide animal feed. We want to turn additional food waste into a lower carbon footprint charcoal revolutionizing the way we grill. We want communities to become empowered experts to train neighboring communities, who can then train their neighbors to continue the cycle. This model is fully scalable. The impact it can and will have is tremendous. We want schools to be able to fund their programs, parents to be able to feed their families without worry, farmers to sit down for dinner and not wonder where their next meal will come from, individuals to not let a $9 dollar medical bill prevent them from receiving lifesaving treatment. We want members of these cooperatives to fund the enterprises they always dreamed of but never had the capital to do so. We want the next generation to have it better than the prior.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THAT DREAM COME TRUE?
We need capital. We need a fully operational supply chain. We need dedicated, motivated communities to commit to empowering themselves through our model. The latter two are factors currently established and will continue to grow and expand. Monetary resources, on the other hand, will take additional assistance and is the largest contributing factor to make those dreams come true of our vision, our global goals, our impact.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
There are challenges every step of the way. Supply chains don’t make themselves. As with all product distribution operations, there are roadblocks and logistics to overcome and plan for. It takes a tremendous team to make these operations go, and I am thrilled to be part of Agricycle’s tremendous team.
International operations are full of challenges. Communication, monitoring and evaluating, ensuring teams are processing the product according to the outlined procedures are additional challenges that surface. The success here begins with great initial training, great staff to ensure this training translates to great operations, and great communication throughout all parties to give and receive updates, feedback, and suggestions to grow and adapt for the future.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Listen. Listen to those you want to help. Listen to what they need to get to where they want to be. Don’t force an idea you think will work, people’s situations are not one-size fits all. No-one knows their culture, their history, their people, their situation better than those living it every day.
If you have an idea, by all means, run with it! But be willing to change and adapt along the way, flexibility is key. As you learn, as you get to know the people you are trying to impact, stay flexible and eliminate your ego. You might set out to make a difference on others, but be prepared to receive just as much of an impact upon yourself. Good luck and get after it!
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE IMPORTANT WORK YOU’RE DOING?
It can truly make a difference. Not many business models take something of zero value and turn it into a multi-continental business that has the potential to benefit millions through enhancement of economic situations. Just $1 to individuals in the areas we are operating in can have an entirely different meaning and value than $1 to some or most people living in other parts of the world. This income community partners with Agricycle can generate can truly be life-saving and life-changing.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Everyone should go like, subscribe and follow our social media pages! We are out there, waiting for more smiling faces wanting to do something to better the world. Share our page, exposure can go a long way. Spread the word!
Buy our product! Go taste greatness! You will be able to scan the bar code to see where your incredible fruit or flour was sourced, and the story of those you supported through your purchase. I can tell you every one of our communities has a great story, full of wonderful people doing whatever they can to help their family and community.
Donate! If you have plenty of money just begging to be used, send it toward a cause you know will do good for people and the environment around the world.
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations supports the growth and impact purpose-driven organizations that are making a difference in the world. We share their stories, news, and valuable expertise to drive awareness, establish credibility, and build trust to foster meaningful relationships with their stakeholders. If you would like to be featured on INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.