Good Market to take social entrepreneurship online

Colombo-Good-Market-blog

A market place for ‘doing good’ sounds like an oxymoron. But that’s exactly what Good Market is. Established with the aim of making it easier and more fun to ‘do good’, by making better choices for our health, community and the planet, Good Market has grown steadily since its inception in 2012.  It started with an open-air market in Diayatha Uyana on Thursdays, and now has weekend markets in the Colombo Race Course Grounds and the Galle Fort. They’ve also opened a Good Market Shop at Reid Avenue, making fresh, organic produce, healthy snacks, and natural home & garden products from local vendors available throughout the week.

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If one were to think of Good Market as a startup, it would be evident that the quick traction they’ve enjoyed is the result of unearthing a significant ‘market gap’. Sri Lanka has many organic farmers and social enterprises, but most of them are starved for visibility. This is partly a result of being crowded out by mass-market brands with bigger marketing budgets and partly because of the lack of a platform to showcase their impact on the community and environment. On the other hand, there is a growing population of well-educated consumers who look for organic food and want to deal with businesses that match their values. But, such businesses tend to be small and fragmented, and very few can show any third-party certification for the quality of their organic produce, or demonstrate the positive social impact of their businesses. This is where Good Market comes in, acting as the platform that brings socially conscious buyers and sellers together.

Good Market curates vendors, based on a set of social and environmental standards, set out in detail on the Good Market website. Every supplier goes through a stringent verification process, to become a member of the Good Market. Membership of this community carries many benefits. Weekly open air marketplaces have acted as an ‘accelerator’ to take many brands to market, ranging from home bakers to organic food producers. Rural producers who would otherwise have sold their produce to middlemen have found a method to reach end consumers, who appreciate their produce without having to bear the prohibitively high expense of starting shop in Colombo. Shoppers at weekly marketplaces have ‘found’ brands that aligned with their values and shared the good news on their social media networks. Vendors sometimes buy from other Good Market vendors, creating products that have gone through an ‘ethical value chain’.

At its core, Good Market’s vision is a localized platform for curation, discovery and match making – terms one is more likely to associate with a tech startup, than a social enterprise organizing weekly markets. And this approach is very much by design. After perfecting their model for creating a platform that brings together responsible buyers and sellers – the folks behind Good Market are now taking it online, globally.

Their idea is to build a scalable software platform, which applies the concept of crowdsourcing to on-board and facilitate discovery of vendors aligned with their values. Vendors who apply to be listed in their online marketplace would be curated and then reviewed by existing members – made up of buyers and existing suppliers in the eco-system. A system of reviews and ratings will allow any potential buyer to quickly identify the most suitable local vendor for their need. Relationships between vendors within the community would also be captured, building – perhaps for the first time in the world – a completely transparent supply chain. This online platform would be piloted in Sri Lanka with the existing Good Market community and scaled up to serve communities around the world.

The Good Market team are aware of the challenges of building a globally scalable platform. They are keen to continue to operate as a self-financing social enterprise. Hence, the new online platform will monetize through premium features offered to vendors such as analytics of visitors to their profiles and opportunities to highlight products, events, job vacancies, and other opportunities. Community partners can help on-board vendors facing language barriers and limited access to internet.

After evaluating many local software product-engineering companies, the Good Market team has chosen and entrusted Calcey Technologies with the task of transforming their vision into reality. Calcey has extensive experience in building web and mobile software products, for Silicon Valley based startups. Having provided numerous customers the benefit of full life cycle software development services – ranging from minimum viable products (MVPs) to enterprise apps that can operate at scale – for over 12 years, the Calcey team are well placed to build a globally scalable platform for this exciting new vision of the GoodMarket community. Await more updates on this collaboration, as Good Market and Calcey introduces the first virtual version of your favorite marketplace!

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