Guest blogpost by Trang Tran, founder of Fargreen. They won the runner-up prize of €200,000 in the 2014 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge

2014 was a dream ride for 2014 runner-up Fargreen, says founder Trang Tran.

 

"This prize really enabled us to take a big leap in our strategic plan from having fundraising as one of the major goals of 2014 and 2015 to focusing 100% of the team’s energy on building a great business and getting the products on the market."

2014 was a dream ride for all us at Fargreen, marked by our big win at the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2014. Fargreen works with local rice farmers to divert the rice straws from burning. Our technology uses the straws as a substrate to produce mushrooms. As a result of this process, Fargreen stops the release of GHG and helps farmers increasing their income by 50%. This prize really enabled us to take a big leap in our strategic plan from having fundraising as one of the major goals of 2014 and 2015 to focusing 100% of the team’s energy on building a great business and getting the products on the market.

The prize money has transformed Fargreen from a small and informal start-up team to a formal company with a head quarter office set up in Hanoi, Vietnam and a team of seven people working full time for the company. Also, for the first time since it was founded in December 2013, we can pay ourselves salary. This takes away all financial worries and it enables us to fully invest our time and energy in Fargreen. We’re running faster than ever!

 

Fargreen team at their new office

 

On January 1 2015, we officially signed nine farmers in Ngoc Cuc village, Hai Duong province, Vietnam. These farmers have been through Fargreen’s training in the summer of 2014 and they are now organised in two different  mushroom production groups under the Fargreen umbrella. Fargreen’s pilot production has moved from our lab to these farmers’ homes. We have been investing in converting part of their home space into mushroom production facilities.
By mid-February, these two farmer groups started to harvest their first batches of oyster and white button mushrooms. Their yield is about 2-3 kg of mushrooms per day and is growing. At the same time, we have already started taking small orders from small restaurants and individuals to test the whole cycle from production to product delivery. What a great start for an exciting year of 2015!

The 2014 finalists are about to start a 10-day accelerator programme, the Green Challenge Deep Dive. This programme was offered to them by DOEN Foundation, and is tailor made for their respective business needs and stages.

We’re very excited about the upcoming Green Challenge Deep Dive. I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to bring two other teammates on this trip, so we can maximize the learning experience. We don’t often get the opportunity to have business coaches work with our team. As we’re a startup, building the team capacity is really everything that’s needed at this point to move the venture forward. We’ve been really busy with the business ever since I got back from the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, so this will lift us out of the day to day work and enable us to look at the big picture of the business, to adjust anything that’s needed & to make sure that we’re on the right track.

 


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