Field-to-Fork // Interview with Social Entrepreneur Tom Ellum

Storimarket is a social enterprise you should know about. Their website allows you to buy direct from smallholder farmers and ethical food producers in Africa, which not only betters the lives of farmers and their families, but allows them to continue to farm in a way that is good for the environment and their community. Storimarket was founded in 207 by Tom Ellum, a social entrepreneur who has worked in international development for 10 years, and is currently completing his MBA. He describes Storimarket as, “a marketplace to connect ethical smallholder farmers to consumers in developed markets (field-to-fork).”

“We provide smallholder farmers with international market opportunity, and consumers with a direct way to buy their food,” Tom explains. How are they going to achieve this? By getting the logistics just right and marketing to consumers who will buy from their farmers.

Tom recommends working with a co-founder when launching any new venture, stating “building our team was one of the most important achievements so far.” The Storimarket team consists of passionate individuals from a variety of relevant backgrounds including, design, big food and logistics.

So far Storimarket has generated over £1k of trade for small producers and farmers from UK customers. And how did they get their first five customers? Good ol’ email marketing.

When asked what his proudest moment regarding Storimarket was to date Tom replied, “Delivering to our first customers in May [of this year].”

For the next 3-6 months Storimarket will focus on acquiring customers and adding new producers and products. For his fellow entrepreneurs Tom shared this advice:

– Don’t sacrifice work-life balance – start-ups are a marathon, not a sprint.

– Chase passion over profit, and the latter will come.

– You can’t do it alone: find a team.

– Don’t keep your idea a secret.

– Oh, and most importantly: START!

The best advice he was ever given? “Ego is the enemy.”

Tom says that the people who inspire him most are, “our producers, who are developing amazing food products in tough conditions and uncertain market conditions.”

A must read, according to Tom: The State of Africa, which he describes as “An amazing history of the continent, during a turbulent time.”

Be sure to follow StoriMarket on Twitter @mystorimarket, Instagram @storimarket, and Facebook.

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