Little Difference was founded in 2016 in New Zealand, by Sophie Stevens – an artist and Geology graduate – and Pete Oswald – a professional skier.
They create beautiful hand designed Greeting Cards, Art prints, Notebooks and Calendars all made from 100% recycled card and wrapped in 100% biodegradable cornstarch bags. For every single product sold, 1 Tree is planted in Madagascar towards permanent reforestation. The products are printed in the UK and shipped to anywhere in the world.
Madagascar is an example of an area which has suffered tremendously as a result of deforestation by human activity. 90% of Madagascar’s forests have gone and the multiple effects are overwhelming. Red top soil is eroding into rivers and fish stocks are being depleted due to run off. The country is bleeding red from it’s rivers out into the ocean and filling up the estuaries, people are starving because nothing will grow in the now arid land which was once rich forest. All these negative effects eventually have a flow-on effect to the developed world as resources become scarce and people are displaced.
The planting of trees in Madagascar means the native forest is regenerated, creating a diverse ecosystem, stabilising topsoil, regenerating fish stocks and cleaning rivers. By employing local Malagasy people to do the planting, they are being lifted out of poverty and are being employed in a dignified way for a good wage. They can feed their families, send their children to school and learn the importance of protecting the forest.
So far Little Difference has planted 25,000 trees, creating over 250 days of employment to local people in Madagascar, and are currently crowdfunding on UpEffect to expand their impact.
Sophie and Pete were kind enough to answer some questions and provide advice for aspiring social entrepreneurs.
UpEffect: Would you recommend starting a company with a cofounder?
Little Difference: Yes, for us it made sense as we are a couple and both have very different skills we can bring to the business. It’s great to discuss ideas, problems and to have someone there to talk to.
How did you onboard your first 5 customers?
People like the idea of giving a card and with it, a tree. We are always travelling and meeting new people and I think this helps a lot with getting our business known to lots of people.
What is your proudest moment?
Our proudest moment would have to be when we went to Madagascar and visited the tree planting sites first hand and witnessed the difference our business is making.
Why are you launching a crowdfunding campaign? What do you hope to achieve?
We are trying to reach more people, to get our business know around the world and above all to plant more trees, and save more lives. We have new products we would like to bring to market including notebooks and calendars.
What type of rewards are you offering as a part of your crowdfunding campaign?
We are offering greeting card packs, calendars, notebooks, and package deals to get your Christmas presents sorted in one go!
Tell us a bit about your future plans and projects.
We plan to approach more retailers and get our products on to the shelves of more shops as well as have a bigger distribution through our online shop. We aim to plant millions of trees and make a real difference to the world.
Who inspires you?
David Attenborough – a living legend.
What’s a book you always recommend and why?
‘Let my people go surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. He talks about running an environmentally responsible business.
What are your top three tips for aspiring social entrepreneurs?
1. Believe in yourself and your product. 2. Get all the facts about where the money is going so you can answer any questions thrown at you. 3. Talk to people. Tell everyone you meet, whoever they are, you never know how they might help you in the future
You can get in contact with Little Difference at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to learn more about the Little Difference campaign and make a contribution.