Rangeland Solutions: Summer Wrap-up

Greetings from Nairobi! As you may recall from my previous post, I moved out here to oversee operations for Rangeland Solutions and our upcoming expansion this fall.

But it seems like this summer has come and gone. It really is amazing how fast the time can go when you are having fun. Rangeland Solutions has accomplished a lot over these short few months. On the fundraising front, we have submitted grant applications, gone on a fundraising tour and networked with a lot of great people. We have even launched an Indiegogo campaign (Check it out!). During this process, I have learned that to raise money for your start-up you have to constantly be hustling, as you never know where a potential lead may appear.

In field operations, we have completed collecting baseline data for our Monitoring and Evaluation Program. Our field researcher, Thomas Turere, has conducted over 70 interviews, covering all of households in Olekimunke, where our pilot project was established. This baseline information will act as a yardstick from which we can measure and assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of our work. Moving forward we will use this information to inform our decision-making and planning but also to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our program members, the pastoralists. This is even more important in today’s data-driven world, where donors and supports want to see quantifiable results.

Also during this summer, Rangeland Solutions has engaged with a number of organizations interested in collaborating on issues from soil carbon monitoring to livestock marketing. Though these are preliminary discussions, it is encouraging to see other organizations drawn to our mission and model. But as we have begun to gain more traction in the market place, I have come to see the importance of having a long-term strategic vision and plan for the organization from a financial, operational and staff perspective. Developing such a strategy would enable us to chart a clear path forward and help us to evaluate whether a potential opportunity is in line with our goals or may act to sidetrack our operations and divert precious resources. The question comes down to how can we grow our operations quickly, intelligently and most important sustainably.

We would like to thank Duke SIP for the opportunity to continue working on and developing Rangeland Solutions. With your support we have been able to gain significant experience and insight, which has been crucial during these beginning stages.

Mid-Summer Update

Greetings!

We hope everyone has been enjoying their summers. Rangeland Solutions has been hard at work over the past few months and it has been a great experience. For this summer we had two primary goals: First, to start a fundraising campaign and raise enough money to enroll 30 more customers and launch two more projects, on top of our pilot, this coming fall. To raise the funds, Rangeland has been networking with potential donors and soliciting donations from multiple sources. Most notably, we have recently submitted a grant application to USAID and we will officially be launching a campaign on Indiegogo in mid-August. I can say that fundraising for a nonprofit is a lot of work, writing up grants, talking with donors and generating lots of informational material and content. However, we are progressing well and we hope our Indiegogo campaign is successful.

Our second goal is to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation Program, so we can measure and assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of our work. Establishing the program entails collecting baseline data from the pastoralists (those who raise livestock) in the region we work, particularly from those who are enrolling in our program in the fall. To collect this baseline information we added a field researcher, Thomas Turere, to our team. Thomas is currently in the process of developing our M&E protocol and methodology, specifically he is writing the questionnaires for the interviews. In the next two weeks Thomas will begin to administer the questionnaires and collect data through interviews. We hope to collect information from at least 60 household, and complete the study by the end of August.

We have been very pleased with how this summer has progressed. We appear to be on target to accomplish our goals by the end of the Innovation program and we are pleased with our results to-date. We hope to continue moving forward and in fact, I will be moving out to Nairobi in mid-August to directly oversee our operations and our expansion this fall. So it is certainly very exciting times for us. Take care everyone.

Greeting From Rangeland Solutions

Hello Everyone!
My name is Taylor Tully and I am the Executive Director of Rangeland Solutions. This summer we are participating in the Duke Summer Innovation Program as finalists in the 2013-2014 Duke Startup Challenge. As part of this track, we will be presenting at the Grand Finale of the Duke Startup Challenge this fall 2014.

Rangeland Solutions is a not-for-profit social business with the mission to provide sustainable income-generating opportunities to pastoralists (those who raise livestock) in Africa, by utilizing improved rangeland management techniques to restore the local ecosystem, and thereby increase the productivity of the land and livestock.

We provide vital, yet often inaccessible services to small-scale livestock producers. Working through community-based field staff, Rangeland Solutions partners with pastoralist groups and provides the financing, resources, and training to implement improved rangeland management techniques.

Rangeland Solutions also acts as a transactional intermediary in the livestock marketing chain, helping pastoralists receive better prices for their livestock and addressing the missing linkages between small-scale producers and larger-scale commercial markets.

Overall, our approach has the potential to significantly improve the livelihoods of pastoralists, who are often some of the poorest and most marginalized members of society, while reversing the processes of desertification and climate change, which threaten our planet.

Our management team has over 30 years of combined experience working in the livestock sector and with pastoralists. This spring we successfully launched our pilot project in southern Kenya.

Over the course of this summer, my partners and I will be working to build and expand the organization beyond the pilot project and further develop our services and strategy. Key to this will be fundraising, which will be my primary responsibility. In the next few months, I hope to raise enough funds to launch two more “projects” this coming fall. My partners back in Kenya will focus on implementing our livestock marketing strategy and developing a Monitoring and Evaluation Program, so we can measure and assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of our work.

I hope to share with you our progress on this blog. To learn more about Rangeland Solutions, you can also follow us on our Facebook page and our Company blog.

Thank you very much and good luck to everyone.