Advancing organic agricultural operations by creating a sustainable network connecting producers, distributors, and consumers

Bringing benefits to all living beings associated with the life cycle of food chain, including production, distribution, and consumption.

Photo of Leezen
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Leezen Company LTD.

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • Over $5mil

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • More than 100,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Not listed (Please add to next answer - "Headquarters location: City")

Headquarters location: City

Taipei, Taiwan

Location(s) of impact

Taiwan: 132 service stores Outside of Taiwan: 29 service locations (USA, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Shanghai)


Facebook URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Modern farming techniques rely heavily on chemicals and bio-engineering means. With obsessive drive for enhancing productivity and decreasing costs, modern agricultural have inadvertently introduced significant unwanted toxic elements into the soil, air, water, and human bodies. However, the problem is – it is very difficult for individual farming producers to have a full control over the entire value chain of food production/consumption.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The proposed solution is to leverage the experience and the operating model of Leezen, which is to build a formal social enterprise with a clear goal of connecting and managing a few critical components of the value chain across the organic production and consumption network. The key critical components are: 1. Systematically share and disseminate the technical know-hows in organic farming 2. Connecting the full life cycle of food chain by filling the gaps between producers and consumers 3. Innovatively design and create new consumer products utilizing excess organic produces 4. A shared core value framework committing to safeguard the farm land and the eco systems living off the entire life cycle, through consumer education, encouraging consumers to buy from the organic farmers and to support the natural eco environment for the associated species.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

• Growth in physical retail stores: since the first one started in 1998, Leezen has in total of 161 distribution service stores in 2017, with an average of 10% year on year growth in the past 5 years. • Increase in the sum of organic produces sold via Leezen stores from 1,280 ton to approximately 4,560 ton. • Increase in organic farming practices in support of endangered species: 2 examples o Grow organic Trapa Natans to recreate the natural habitat for Taiwanese Pheasant-tailed Jacana (hydrophasianus chirurgus) and Taiwanese pigeon eagle (accipiter trivirgatus)  - Farmers from 7 in 2011 to 31 in 2017.  - Farm land grows from 3.3 (2011) to 47.8 hectares in 2017 o Grow non-chemical-fertilized mango trees in remote mountain areas to restore the natural habitat for Taiwanese blue-banded king crow butterfly (Euploea eunice). • Roll out public consumer education events since 1998

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The initial capital investment of Leezen in 1998 was about $60,000 USD. The sum of Leezen 2017 capital assets is estimated at near $10 million USD. The average operating net income has been maintained at about 5% to 6%. This is not a hugely profiting business, however, sustainability is what Leezen strives for. Leezen believes that the long-term sustainability is predicated upon the commitment to create shared value across the food chain.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

A viable operation that connects the value chain in organic food production/distribution/consumption

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Like majority of farming areas in the world, the farm land of Taiwan has been through typical “modern” farming practices by relying on pesticides and chemical fertilizers to increase productivity. Water lily farmers use heavy chemicals to increase the productivity of water lilies, which dramatically destroy the natural habitat that the unique Taipei Brown Frogs needed to survive. By patiently persuading one old lily farmer, Uncle Ashi, to give up on using chemicals and gradually transform to organic growing techniques, coupled with a marketing strategy of lobbying consumers to support organic farming, which took 3 years to accomplish. This journey has become a prototype of subsequent Leezen organic win-win farming transformations.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 66.7%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

2. Innovation

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Social and/or Environmental Impact

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

4. Financial sustainability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

5. Potential to Scale / Replicability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

6. Organizational Leadership

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 33.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

7. Potential for Creating Shared Value

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

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Attachments (4)

Leezen Intro.pdf

Corporate vision and missions of Leezen, including the organizational structure and services as well as products currently delivered by Leezen and its associated organizations.

Leezen_Social Benefits Report_2015.pdf

A published public report on the performance of Leezen (document in traditional Chinese).


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Really interesting work Congratulations.

Photo of Raquel Costa

Boa iniciativa, muito sucesso Leezen, os produtos orgânicos trás ,saúde e melhora a perspectiva de vida das pessoas que os consome.

Photo of Chris Vousvouras

Seems to be a fantastic social enterprise. For a non specialist, it would be helpful to better understand who the customers are and which have been the top selling products/services over the last years.

Photo of Leezen

Hi Chris,
The customers of Leeren products are consumers who are seeking affordable organic healthy food. Majority of the consumers could be middle-class consumers, and/or mothers who watch out carefully when buying food for their children and family members, and/or an increasing growing vegetarian community in Taiwan as well as in the major cities of Hong Kong, Canada, and Americas.

Leeren tries to build direct supply chain relationships with the producers and sells to end consumers in order to reduce the additional transaction costs that may generate additional financial burden for many of the salary-income families.

The most popular products are usually the seasonal fresh produces, such as in season vegetables and fruits, organic rice, organic grains (other than rice), organic tea, and some roots produce, such as sweet potato, radish, etc.

Sometimes, there are additional or new processed organic products, such as no-preservative-instant noodles, organic coffee, or organic fruit cakes available for sell, Leeren will announce these specialty items via our website, emails, and line/wechat contact list. Consumers will receive these information and come pick up what they need.  Most of our products have very short shelf life.  However, we do have sufficient consumer base now, and our problem is more about not having enough products to sell.  This is also the reason why we feel very strongly about the need to expand our coaching and guiding practice in order to encourage more farmers to take up the journey of "becoming organic".  This is a "journey" in that it is not something that can just happen.  It takes a lot of learning, many tries, and most importantly, it has to be based on a certain "belief" and "commitment" from the farmers' end.  Leeren is willing to accompany these would-be organic farmers to start that journey by advising them and encourage them every steps of the way. 

Our existing resources are very limited.  However, our experience and knowledge bank has been accumulating many know-how and networks that we can continue to leverage and to make an impact to assist more farmers to go on to this journey of "becoming organic".  We believe that we as an organization is fully committed to creating shared value by focusing on the right cause and not only seek profit making.  Although making sufficient profits so that Leeren can continue to operate and continue to enable those organic farmers to continue their livelihood is equally important for this model to work. Therefore, the 3rd pillar of our operating model is - educating the consumer and have consumers continue to support the organic farmers by buying their products (the first pillar is organic farmers, the second pillar is reducing transaction layers, i.e., Leeren buys directly from producers and sells directly to end consumers). 

We found that the most powerful combination is to combine the impact of organic farming with protecting the natural habitats. Many of our consumers are touched by the stories of preserving the natural homes for butterflies, eagles, frogs, and more.  They are willing to pay slightly higher price for not as perfect looking vegetables or fresh produces because they want to support the cause of preserving the natural environments for other living beings.

The continuous growth of Leeren model requires continuous investment in expanding our circle of influence, both inspiring more farmers to become organic and more consumers to buy organic.  We humbly believe that some of the experience we accumulated since 1998 could be shared and leveraged by other countries outside of Taiwan. If there is a forum or an opportunity where we can share our know-how in a more sustainable way, we will be more than honor to be part of that great cause.

Hope that we had answered your question?  Please do feel free to send us any additional questions you have. 

Thank you.