Green Savers - Tree Hospital for Urban Farms

We are creating a greener Dhaka by training and mobilizing Garden Experts for hire - and worked in 5000+ homes and 200+ schools till date.

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Eligibility

  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Ahsan Rony

Initiative's representative date of birth

16 June 1987

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Bangladesh

Where are you making a difference?

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Website or social media url(s)

Website: https://thegreensavers.org Facebook: https://fb.com/thegreensavers.org YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqGzdqe4fisFni2WPtq1v3A

When was your organisation founded?

06/2010

Focus areas

  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $10k - $50k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

I used to be a home tutor in 2010. One day, I asked one of my students about his thoughts about gardening, to which he said that gardening was the job of a gardener. My father was a farmer and I loved gardening so I was a little hurt. I decided to present him a strawberry plant. Soon, there were fruits, and my student was excited, taking it to school to show his friends. His school teachers requested me to give a presentation on rooftop gardening at the school. After my presentation, many parents started to contact me and wanted to have their own rooftop gardens. I used to buy plants and deliver those to their houses and I started to receive a lot of orders. I realized that I can do a lot of good in this new industry. Green Savers was born!

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

Dhaka is a rapidly urbanizing and densely populated area a population of 20.628 million and over 500,000 buildings, with little space left for trees, except rooftops. Gardening and farming in Bangladesh is considered a job of the uneducated and this results in a lack of trained tree specialists to maintain the few green areas we have. There is no initiative to train and produce gardeners either from public or private level.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our Tree Hospital provides plants care support to city dwellers and trains and employs new gardeners, branding them as Plant Doctors to give meaning to the work. Over 500,000 buildings exist in Dhaka and our solution focuses on planting and maintaining gardens in these roofs. Anyone interested to build their own garden is simply a call or a text away from getting a visit from our Tree Doctors. Since our start, we have expanded our work to cover rooftop gardening, monthly garden service, landscaping and hydroponic farm setups to help people grow their own food and gardens. Since 2010, we have served over 5,000 rooftop and indoor gardens (about 1% of Dhaka). After recruitment, all Plant Doctors go through at least a 3-month training at our Tree Hospital on plant diseases, gardening techniques, landscaping and customer service. At least 30 of our former employees and trainees have used their experience to open up nurseries or gardening service centers of their own, helping add to the green services industry.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

We aim to cover all 500,000 rooftops of Dhaka with trees. From our experience serving over 5,000 roofs and garden owners, we found that the only thing holding back most garden owners is a lack of trained gardening services coupled with modern garden technologies. Our Tree Hospital is currently the only Center in Dhaka which provides training on expert gardening services and technologies. Gardening was done by those with no formal education or training in Bangladesh, so our Plant Doctors stand out by providing professional services to home-owners and institutes and promote environment-friendly practices. We have developed and taught over 20 different gardening structures and hydroponic methods suited to Dhaka.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Through our Plant Doctors, we aim to train a team of urban farmers and garden experts in an overly-dense and polluted city, Dhaka. Dhaka is the 72nd most expensive city in the world (EIU Worldwide Cost of Living Index, 2018) and has a high cost of food. It also has one of the worst rankings of Airvisual's AQI rankings, and the high carbon emissions need a large amount of plants to offset. Urban Farming is growing popular as people are not only encouraged by the fresh food they can grow, but also get a tax deduction by the Government of Bangladesh to own a rooftop garden, for the better of the environment. Plant Doctors who graduate our training and join the gardening and urban farming industry are equipped with the knowledge to grow food sustain-ably in dense urban settings - so they are able to meet the demand for expertise in fresh food and the developing urban agriculture industry.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

All Plant Doctors receive training in the following, conducted by experts who have at least 3 years experience on the field: Urban Farming methods - Over 20 different models of potting trees, including vertical gardening and auto irrigation techniques. Horticulture Techniques - Using pesticide free, IPM methods, trimming and use of natural compost to provide monthly service to garden owners. Hydroponics and Food Production Climate Change Awareness We satisfaction surveys of garden owners to reevaluate and update our training for each individual Plant Doctor periodically.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Several recent startups are working in urban farming, ranging from food production to online garden supply stores. We have startups such as NeoFarmers who work in providing premium, fresh food through supermarkets and large scale Hydroponic research centers from NGOs like ActionAid. The BRAC plant Nursery provides local and foreign plants for urban gardeners. Private Limited Companies like ACI Agribusiness has large farmlands where they cultivate food using advanced farming technology. Green Savers stands out by focusing on the urban farm industry by building a workforce of expert gardeners.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We are currently serving 5,000 household gardens, and 200 office buildings, providing planting, maintenance and/or landscaping. We have 17 Plant Doctors currently operating from the Tree Hospital. Over 150 people have graduated from the Tree Hospital training center and have opened over 30 new plant nurseries and gardening service centers. With our current capacity, we can serve 500 more gardens and will add an additional 5 Doctors to our team.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Other than adding more Plant Doctors to the team and serving gardens across Dhaka, we want to create a landmark building, Tree Hospital, an established Plant Doctor training center in Dhaka city. We plan on having at least 50 up-and-coming Plant Doctors enrolled in various skill-based courses by the next year. We sustain our activities from monthly service fees and hydroponic/garden kit sales from home owners and urban farmers. Within the next five years, we plan on expanding to all 64 district cities in Bangladesh, each with their own Tree Hospital and Training Center. We can project an approximate total of 320 full-time Plant Doctors, over 3,000 graduates in the next 5 years, and over 20,000 gardens created by us across Bangladesh.

10. Team

There are currently 27 full-time members in the Green Savers team: 17 Tree Doctors (Professional Gardeners) 3 Managers (Team Leaders) 3 Customer Support Officers 1 Media and IT Manager 1 Accountant 1 Tree Ambulance driver 1 Admin & HR Manager

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Disability (including: physical, intellectual, and/or mental disabilities)

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

I was born with Albinism and low vision, which means that I have skin and eyes extremely sensitive to the sun. Since most my work involved going out in the sun most of the day, particularly at the beginning of my journey, I was advised multiple times not to pursue this career by doctors. I was determined to work with trees, so I armed myself with a pair of sunglasses, a cap and full sleeves, which I still wear at all times. I am thankful to have co-workers who now help me with outdoor work.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. OVERALL Evaluation:

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

Yes/maybe - 66.7%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

Yes, absolutely! - 100%

Yes/maybe - 0%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

Yes/maybe - 66.7%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

5. Is this entry ACTIVATING CHANGEMAKING?

Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

Yes/maybe - 66.7%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 100%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 50%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

Other option - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 0%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

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

Other option - 0%

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