Feed Our Loved Ones (FOLO)
Urban 'Farmacy' Movement Powered by Food Waste
Waste to Wellness movement transforming neighborhood food waste to nutritious local organic food. Cultural shift from
Pharmacy to FARMacy.
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.
Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Malaysia: Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Alor Setar
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City
Thailand: Phisalulok province
A latest article on FOLO written by popular media company Vulcan Post
FOLO recently won the Environment Hero of the Year award at MAGIC's Annual Amplify Awards 2017. We are also part of the pioneering batch of Impact Driven Enterprises (IDE) accredited by the Malaysian Government.
Ad-hoc video by a reporter from Malaysia's national newspaper, The Star, in our early days. Describes composting food waste and our partnership with restaurants.
Video made by The Chivas Venture team when we became the first Malaysia representative to the Venture finals in LA in July 2017. Shows what we hope for the future.
Beautiful video made by the MAGIC SE team, when we won their national Amplify Awards in 2016. MAGIC SE is the government agency tasked with promoting social entrepreneurship in Malaysia. They have also selected FOLO as one of the pioneering batch of Impact Driven Enterprises (IDE) formally recognized by the Malaysian Government in 2017.
An inspiring video about what we do, made pro-bono by Passion Portraits. It focuses on the story of one of our co-founders, Dr Lemuel - a medical doctor - and his family, showing the reason why we do what we do at FOLO from a health and family/community perspective. Went a little viral on FB!
Our first TEDx talk in Johor Bahru in 2016 talking about the state of nutrition/food safety and the power of community agriculture.
Our very first FOLO video made pro-bono by a family member, Dan Stevenson in early 2016. Still the most concise and fun way to understand what we do.
Our journey began in 2014. Will and his 4 childhood friends returned to Johor Bahru from overseas to be closer with their families when we noticed how some of us were suffering from chronic illnesses at a young age. One of the friends, Dr. Lemuel, determined one of the root issues to be the harmful food we were eating. So to help fight it, the team came together and came up with a way to feed our families the right things.
A family-run farm that turns food waste into rich organic compost, we grow a diverse range of healthy vegetables and microgreens. We collect the food waste from restaurants and hotels who partner with us, like Renaissance Hotel.Our composting and farming mentor, Pierre Loisel from Taiwan, explained to us that to grow organic vegetables, we should do our own composting to create the most nutritious organic fertilisers.
We run on a subscription model to build a sense of community with the risk and reward of a joint harvest. People join the farm as members for a 24-week share and come by the farm every Saturday to pick up our harvest for the week.
The team have 3 farms around Johor. One functions as a demo farm where we do our experimenting and it’s also open to public for school tours, private workshops and so on. The remaining 2 are for our main production and compost facility.
Wanting to take our enterprise even further, we applied for Chivas Venture 2016 (a US$1 million global search to find and support the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs).
Emerging as the first-ever Malaysian global finalist of the Chivas Venture, FOLO Farms is in the midst of collaborating with property developers to promote an idea.
We’re hoping to build a FOLO-type “agrihood” in our townships where residents, businesses, FOLO and local government can work together to recover and compost their food waste, and to grow healthy food in their townships as opposed to exotic landscapes fed with chemicals. Already in agreement/final negotiations with 3 housing developers using a range of land options - public, private and common spaces.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
800 million people worldwide remain chronically undernourished. Over two billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, also known as HIDDEN HUNGER. Children today are eating high-caloric micronutrient-deficient food. Root cause: Our food system has neglected quality in the pursuit of quantity. Moreover, the prolific misguided use of pesticides and chemicals further exacerbates children health, resulting in an explosion of child cancer, learning disabilities and auto-immune diseases. Our food is killing our children!
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Our business concurrently disrupts 4 systemic, entrenched issues faced by Malaysia and all developing countries at once: Food Waste, Nutrition, Farmer Livelihood and Climate Change. We produce nutrient-diverse, microbes rich, pesticide-free vegetables close to communities in need, leveraging on an abundant but ignored resource: food waste. Globally, 1/3 of all our food (and hence our nutrients) is wasted in the supply chain.
Demand for local, nutritious, ethical organic produce is rising fast. The Global Organic Food & Beverages Market is poised to grow at a CAGR of around 16.6% to reach approximately $456 billion by 2025. We leverage LOCAL assets - underused land, community citizenry, and food waste - to meet this demand through community-supported food waste composting and farming. We also create shared social and environmental value - access to nutrient rich organic food, better and healthier farmer livelihoods, and a carbon negative, soil-regenerative, agriculture system.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
Social Impact: Nutrition/ Food Safety
- Total kg of organic vegetables produced (20,000 kg to date, 400kg a week)
- Total number of families benefitting from vegetables (200, all with chronic illnesses)
- Beneficiaries of vegetable donations (50 elderly, 20 cancer patients, 9 employees)
Social Impact: Livelihoods
- Number of Urban Farmers trained/employed (10 as of 2017)
- 2000 tons (3 tonnes/day) of food waste diverted from being burned or dumped and transformed into compost
- 180 tonnes of CH4 avoided
- 216 tonnes of CO2 avoided
- 16 acres of previously degraded land restored through regenerative organic farming
- 7% per month of carbon emissions reduction for Hotel Partner
Please refer to Attachment Section for independent Impact Summary Report by Shujog.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
FOLO Farms is already a cashflow positive social enterprise after 2 years. It is now financially supported by 1) Prepaid membership subscriptions (30%); 2) Consultancy fees to develop "agrihoods" (40%); 3) Workshops/ events (20%); 4) Corporate F&B customers (10%). We also gratefully received grants and awards from government agencies, foundations and corporates (USD 50,000 in 2017).
In the long term, we hope to scale and sustain hrough a social franchise model, with further income streams:
. microfranchising to other communities, including urban and rural BOP
. market access partnerships with rural organic farmers and collectives
. monetization of social/environmental value: FOLO Foundation, 3rd party payments for food waste recovery, emissions reductions etc.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
In the world's most contaminated fresh produce market-Malaysia- FOLO is a scaleable systemic Waste to Wellness solution addressing malnutrition, food safety & climate change together.In growing nutritious food, we differ because we have a Full Circular Economy at the community level, starting with our waste. Our competitors operate in silos, waste collectors produce compost without regard to its farming viability, farmers grow for remote strangers, communities consume instead of contributing.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
FOLO (Feed Our Loved Ones) Farms was started by 6 families. Returning home from overseas, we realized that too many of our family and friends, some very young, around us were developing all sorts of chronic illnesses – from diabetes to auto-immune disorders to cancer. These were caused, to a large degree, by food grown that not only did not heal us, but were slowly killing us. Our current food system is simply unsafe, and not grown in the best interest of our health and our future generations.
This propelled us to start a community-based farm powered by food waste for our own consumption. Within a year, demand for our healthy vegetables grew greatly amongst wider family and friends, so we grew more. Today we are feeding 100 families what we believe are the most bio-nutrient dense, low food-mile, microbes-rich, organically grown vegetables. And teaching other towns to do the same.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?
Upon recommendation from others
Program Design Clarity: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
What: Food waste recovery/ Bio-nutrient capture
Where: hotel, restaurant, industrial and residential partners
How: Everyday, 3 tonnes, from 7am-4pm
Who: FOLO food waste truck
What: Nutrient and microbial cultivation. Converting food waste into bionutrient-rich, microbes diverse solid and liquid compost.
Where: FOLO Farm. Customized aerobic, thermophilic, community-sized composting facility.
How: Every day 8am-5pm.
Who: FOLO-trained composters
Others: We take great care to allow nutrient and microbial diversity to thrive harnessing the inherent potential and diversity in our food waste, uncovering an alternative rich nutrient value chain close to urban beneficiaries.
What: Urban organic farming. Method focuses on nutrient density, "wildness" and microbial diversity.
Where: Farm, supported by community volunteers.
How: Daily 8am-5pm.
Who: Trained artisan farmers from marginalized communities, e.g. unemployed Indonesian pesticide farmers, Burmese refugees.
What: Harvesting and community collection
Where: At farm. As a CSA Farm, we cut off the middlemen. Families also benefit from the farm environment and community interactions.
How: Saturdays, 9am-3pm.
What: Franchising/consultancy to duplicate FOLO system with other public/private landowners
Where: Other suburban lands
Who: FOLO founders with alliance of farm designers
What: Advocacy/Education/Engaging the wider ecosystem
Where: Farm, schools, public agencies
How: 2-3 times/month
We are interested in learning more about your initiative's broad impact on sustainable development. Please reply ONLY to the question(s) related to your above focus area.
"As the role of microbiome on human health becomes increasingly understood, the food and nutrition industry is racing to harness the vast opportunities hidden within the human microbiome."- Microbiome Human Nutrition Summit, 2017.
FOLO captures - from urban food waste - not just the BIO-NUTRIENT VALUE CHAIN, but also MICROBIAL VALUE CHAIN critical to future human nutrition, and delivers this value right where communities are as an urban organic farm movement.
Urbanization will reach 70% by 2050. Currently, 1/4 of urban populations are stunted due to undernutrition or malnutrition. Malaysia suffers from double burden of being 1) global leader in obesity (adults 47.7%); and 2) faced with overweight parents but stunted children. Malaysian children malnutrition stats: 47.5% Vitamin D deficiency, 48% Iodine deficiency. 1 in 5 under 5 are stunted. The usage of harmful pesticides and chemicals in food production and processing is also prolific - less than 1% of farm land is organic.
FOLO delivers urban "farmacy zones", and bio-nutrient rich, microbes diverse fresh local produce directly to families and the needy. We do this through an integrated approach: community-organized waste recovery, proprietary urban composting system and farming methodology, shared-risk sales model.
For 3 years, Sheay, a mother of 2 comes weekly to FOLO for her vegetables. Coming from a family rife with diabetes and malnutrition, she is glad her 2 kids have different fates and are thriving.
Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?
CSV Nutrition: Future value/solutions in human nutrition linked to the microbiome. Only 1% of bacteria can be cultured - means human microbiome nutrition strategies need to be "LIVE" and LOCAL. FOLO delivers fresh, nutrient-dense, microbes-diverse diet at competitive prices.
CSV Businesses/ R&D: FOLO is building bionutrient and microbial "banks"/ infrastructure close to communities at urban food waste composting and farming facilities.Real estate value also appreciates around urban community farms.
CSV Farmers: From faceless nameless farmers working in pesticide environments, FOLO is restoring the livelihoods and respect of farmers. Beneficiaries of FOLO "Know their farmer, Know their food". FOLO's farmers earn better pay, enjoy better benefits and healthier environments. They are also proud to be skilled "farmacists".
CSV Climate Change: 1 million kg/year urban food waste composting, regenerative farming practices reduce emissions and restore Nature's 2nd biggest carbon sink.
How is your initiative funded, now and over the next 5 years?
FOLO is already a cashflow positive social enterprise after 2 years. It is now financially supported by 1) Prepaid membership subscriptions (30%); 2) Consultancy fees to develop "agrihoods" (40%); 3) Workshops/ events (20%); 4) Corporate F&B customers (10%). We also gratefully received grants and awards for advocacy/education from government agencies, foundations and corporates (USD 50,000 in 2017),
Next 5 yrs, we hope to fund scale-up through social franchising, with further income streams:
. microfranchising to communities, including urban and rural BOP
. market access partnerships with rural organic farmers
. monetization of social/environmental value: FOLO Foundation, 3rd party payments for food waste recovery, emissions reduction
How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the CSV Prize?
Malaysia: We are already participating in dialogues with public/ private landowners, waste companies, UN, agriculture and health ministries, universities. The Ministry of Health has identified over-reliance on food imports as a root problem for citizen health. We hope to leverage Nestle and Ashoka's network, prize prestige and our public policy background to turn these dialogues into policies, regulations and action, so Malaysia can go from net importer of food to net exporter of health.
Globally, we hope to work with inclusive businesses like Nestle & the changemaker network to opensource and innovate the multiplication of FOLO's "food waste to farmacy" model in other cities & suburbs, customized to their local context & stakeholder.
How will you leverage an investment from Nestle to expand the impact of your work?
Financial investment: Start full time nonprofit arm to expand engagement with the wider ecosystem of urban food systems & health, fund collaborative research, open source our ideas & expertise , get new implementers to engage each other & possibly merge with other organizations to increase efficiency.
Technical expertise investment: Nestle can use its expertise to sustainably process, preserve and pack fresh local produce, and be the last mile backbone for a localized artisan urban farming movement that recycles urban food waste nutrients to organic produce. Packaging can be designed to also be food waste collection solutions instead of being a landfill problem, increasing the penetration of a fully circular resource ecosystem.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact? What’s the projected impact for the coming years? Are you planning to expand your programme into new locations? On what assumptions do you build your scale-up plans?
Impact 1000 geographic communities in the next 5 years by franchising model & open source dissemination of our ideas with adaptation to new contexts via cogeneration of knowledge.
Impact local law & policies to incentivize community level full circular ecosystems, redirecting institutional resources for health into farming.
Impact cultural roots by spreading the big cultural idea of 'Farmacy', using stories to shift norms and beliefs. Invest in transformative learning in schools, jumpstart communities of practice.
Commit to evaluation.
- demand for local, organic trusted produce (strong growth stats)
- future of nutrition is live (incorporating microbes), not just chemical/mineral based.
- sustainable food production moving towards regenerative methods, relying on recycled nutrients. regulations picking up.
- governments will be pressured to fulfil UN SDG commitments, and climate change pledges. Malaysia 2017-2025 MOH nutrition plan includes food security.
Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, number of full-time vs. part-time staff, board members, etc.)? How will this team evolve as your initiative grows?
Our team of 20, of which 12 are full time, have hands on experience in commercial organic farming & composting in addition to C-suite careers in private and public sectors of manufacturing, construction, finance, public policy, nutrition, community health & international affairs. Current roles include CEO, COO, CFO, Business Development, Community Coordinator, Agriculture Specialist, Infrastructure Specialist, Nutrition & Wellness Researcher & Advocate, Artisan Farmers.
2018: Formalize existing global network of mentors into a board, set up a franchise/consultantancy team, expand logistics team, hire country representatives in Singapore, add full time nonprofit team to scale impact, train 10 more refugees/pesticide based farmers to be artisan farming trainers, hire packaging specialist
Awards: What awards or honors has the initiative received?
1. Environment Hero of the Year 2017 Award by Malaysia Global Innovation and Creative Centre (MAGIC)
2. Govt Accreditation: Pioneer batch of Impact Driven Enterprises (IDE)
3. Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Award (IMSHA) 2017
4. National Champion and Global Finalist - Chivas Venture 2016
5. MAGIC Social Enterprise Amplify Awards 2016 - Winner
Organizational leadership: How are you influencing your field of work in the present?
- UN University Institute of Global Health - Presenter in multi-stakeholder workshop on Urban Food Systems and Health 2017
- 1st France-Malaysia Governmental Dialogue on Food Waste: Presenter
- Public Health: Nutrition support for local cancer patients and groups
- Lead consultant with 2 landowners to design community-based "farmacies", negotiating with local authorities to transform public and private land.
- mentored the startup of 5 community food waste composting and farming initiatives in other towns.
- UK Soil Association - Member
- Solutioning with national waste management providers
- University lectures/ research - 3 universities
- School education - 20 events to date
- Public Talks - TEDx, WWF Sustainable Development
Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend the Ashoka Impact Boot camp and Creating Shared Value Prize Live Pitch Event at the World Water Forum 13-16 March 2018
Yes, I am available to attend the events on 13-16 March 2018