This week marks one year of work at Fauna & Flora International. As a new role within FFI’s Conservation Finance and Enterprise team, it has been extremely rewarding to develop and deliver a new area of technical support to our local conservation partners around the world. I have not had much opportunity to share with my network what I have been up to, so I wanted to give a bit of an update on my work, and what I see are the potential opportunities to collaborate.
- Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. Set up by FFI 15 years ago, Ol Pejeta has become one of the most famous conservancies in Africa and one of the most successful examples globally of a nature-based enterprise. I developed the business model for a new safari house tourism product, and we were able to obtain a substantial philanthropic investment to set this up. I have also been working with their Conservation Technology Lab and WILDLABS.NET to develop and implement an earned income strategy to support their goal of being the leading hub for the field-based development of conservation technology in East Africa.
- In Mozambique, FFI have made a substantial investment in developing Chuilexi Conservancy, part of Niassa National Reserve and Africa’s largest private wilderness. Now that poaching has been greatly reduced, the focus is switching to financial sustainability. We have a multi-enterprise strategy for the conservancy, including tourism, honey and carbon. Based on my business model design work and investment pitches, we have secured commitments from several donors and I am very much looking forward to implementing our plans in this special place.
- Ya’axche Conservation Trust is another organisation set up by FFI, this time to protect the Maya Golden Landscape in Belize (you may remember the UK’s first fair trade chocolate, that was sourced from there). It is now a regional leader in Indigenous-led, community-based conservation and livelihoods work. I’ve been working with their enterprise arm, YICE (aka Ecotourism Belize), to progress their goals of financial sustainability and community outcomes, and look how they can benefit from their development of a cacao concession inside the reserve.
- It has been great to work with our partner in Turkey the Mediterranean Conservation Society, looking at marine-based enterprise development and conservation financing opportunities. We have been working together to develop new markets for the invasive, tropical fish species being driven into their area by climate change, and progress their long-held goal of setting up a fee-based mooring system to lessen the impact of large numbers of yachts on some of the highest conservation value marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean.
- Coming back to Kenya, FFI has recently started collaborating with Laikipia Nature Conservancy <>, famous from the book and film I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallman. As Kenya’s largest private conservation area, situated in a strategic position linking Laikipia plateau with the Rift Valley, establishing a suite of successful enterprises is going to deliver big outcomes for wildlife and the conservancy’s Pokot neighbours – so watch this space on this one.
I have also started working with some of our other country teams and partners in diverse locations from the eastern Caribbean to Romania and Cambodia. There’s a number of common themes emerging, from the importance of layering enterprises in a landscape to get to scale, to the need to work with other approaches to developing nature-based economies, from market systems to rights and livelihoods. Picking the right product(s) for a landscape is key, and often the first failure in enterprise development. In the era of COVID, it is more important than ever to deliver a diverse range of income generating opportunities to local people as an alternative to engaging in deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade – with all the consequences we have seen.
So how could we collaborate? Well, any introductions to potential impact investors and funders interested in the sort of impact the FFI partners can deliver is always valuable. I am not actively looking for more local partners to support, as my dance card is pretty full, but I am interested in sharing my skills and experience though seminars and talks, and I’m particularly interested in taking on board roles at community organisations and enterprises – I have previously sat on a wide range of NGO boards and advisory committees.
I also want to scale our work through taking a more structured, rather than bespoke approach, whether it is structured training or supporting FFI’s partners and other nature based enterprises using cohort-based or incubator approaches. I am very keen to collaborate with other people and organisations looking to make that happen. If that is you, or you would just like a general chat to exchange insights – please reach out. Now is the time to do it.