Saving the Rainforest through the Power of Cocoa
Katie Sims of Birdlife/RSPB
As part of her work with RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) in the protected area of Gola Rainforest in Sierra Leone, Kate was collaborating closely with forest communities to ensure that the wonders of chocolate become rewards for cocoa farmers who protect their rainforest and its wildlife.
What does social intrapreneurship mean to you? I didn’t know anything intrapreneurship before somebody from The League contacted me! As soon as I started to hear more about The League, it resonated with me. Intrapreneurship is when you are trying to create change but you are also within the system; so you need to understand how to navigate that system and create good things from it.
Tell us more about your social intrapreneurship project- what is the change you are making from within? In Sierra Leone its been a traditionally exploitative supply chain for cocoa, particularly in the area that I’m working in, there are farmers that are being exploited by the system but they are making unique, amazing, forest friendly cocoa. They are farmers, but they are also protecting the rainforest. Disrupting that system and helping farmers to know the power of their cocoa and the reword they deserve for their cocoa because of what they are doing for the environment, and for the world- that has been the system I’ve loved to disrupt and support them to disrupt.
Alongside the farmers that are living in Gola forest, we are able to produce forest-friendly products – allowing consumers to eat amazing chocolate and in parallel, help save the rainforest.
Being an intrapreneur is not an easy journey. Why having a community of like-minded people is important and what does the league of intrapreneurs means to you? To be an intrapreneur, it is important to have a strong network around you that can help you. From the first moment, when I had an interview to become a part of The League, I started to feel that connection. Now I’m surrounded with other people that are from completely different sectors and jobs (and some similar as well!) I have found that community where we are all facing the same challenges and that we are all trying to find ways to navigate through it. Sometimes we are failing, sometimes we are succeeding – knowing that everyone is doing that is a really an empowering feeling.
Do you have any advice for other intrapreneurs to spot new possibilities? Intrapreneurialism is linked to entrepreneurialism. You might have ideas that seem like typical entrepreneurial business ideas to kickstart a business. But, they don’t have to be. You can work as an intrapreneur within organizations with the same ideas and make them happen. So don’t discount something that seems a bit too out there or a bit too different. You can integrate inside an organization, and when you do that you can really have a big impact because of the huge reach those organizations possess. Even when you think something is for entrepreneurs or a certain type of person with venture capital – it doesn’t have to be that way. You can mobilize that within an organization as well.
Katie recently joined Birdlife International, where she will look at forest friendly products and commercial opportunities across 9 countries.
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