Imagine inviting ‘strangers’ from all around the World to join an online ‘Tribe’, with the option to join you on a tropical Island to help build a a cross-community of both the local indigenous population, and also a family of citizens from around the World.
Sounding like a mixture of ‘The Beach’ and ‘Lost’, the reality is that Co’Founder of TribeWanted, Ben Keene has created an Award winning social experiment, that works, and works in reality too! With the advantage of both the local population and the invited community, both benefiting, this is Social Entrepreneurship at is very best…So we are chuffed to bits to be able to welcome Ben Keene to TheEmployable and ask Ben a few questions about his experience to date…
Ben, can I just start by saying, what an inspiration you and the rest of the team are and we love your idea and what you are aiming to achieve.
Cheers – always nice to hear!
Its Global Entrepreneurship Week, and by heavens you have taken on the mantle of Social Entrepreneurship! Please tell TheEmployable, how did Tribewanted come about and why?
It started when I realised my young persons railcard would run out and I needed to get on with things. That, and a prophecy on a Fijian Island that ‘the world would come’
Its amazing watching the youtube videos, how closely do the videos reflect the reality of living by a beach with little to no amenities, and less creature comforts?
Well first of all it depends what you define as amenities and creature comforts – lots of sunshine, outdoor shows, never needing to put on a pair of socks, no shops, cars, and no splash back (compost loo’s…) Video’s reflect the spirit of these places and projects pretty well but they can never give you much of the real experience. When I come home the things I really appreciate are: freedom to choose your future and spotify.
When you thought up the idea of Tribewanted, what did all your friends and family think?
The few that I told thought I wasn’t serious. I think I got 5 ‘I wouldn’t do that’ and 1, ‘go for it’ – that was enough.
What do you think are the advantages of being a ‘social entrepreneur’ over a ‘business entrepreneur’?
The advantage is your model has built-in social impact, not just a CSR campaign if profitable later on. Look at TOMs shoes, Patagonia, Divine Chocolate, Ecotricity. If the majority of all wealth creation was built on principles of good profit and triple bottom line I’m sure we’d live in a much
more equitable, safe and less destructive world. I think the philosophy of social enterprise – create wealth, jobs, but use resources sustainably and protect vulnerable people – reflects a large number of people in society. To make social enterprise the way we all do business we need lots more entreprenuers, lots more Government incentives and regulation for anti-social business and increaing number of social consumers. But it is happening just look at the growth of the fairtrade or the microfinance movement.
From initial idea to first project, how did you manage to get Tribewanted up and running? Did you find there was much funding support available, or how did you go about raising the initial funds?
Tribewanted Fiji (our first project) was crowd-funded online through memberships to the tribe who could then visit the project. I invested 3000 GBP in savings to get it off the ground. Sustainaing it has been challenging but I’ve been fortunate the have great support and business partners to keep the idea going through the troughs.
As TheEmployable is supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week, what would be your top tips for someone reading this article, who as a ‘good idea’ but no idea how to turn this into a reality?
Do something that is more than day-dreaming or talking about it. Register a domain name, a company, start a blog. Find people who might be interested and share your plans.
The hard thing once you’re over the start line is not getting distracted too much by other great ideas…
…And whats next for Tribewanted? Any plans for the next Island?
We’ve been working in Sierra Leone for 2 years now and the project is going really well. You should definitely check it out if you’re interested in visiting the most beautiful country in West Africa and being part of the change happening there. In 2012 we’re re-launching the Tribewanted platform which will anyone to become co-owners in our Community Interest Company for 10GBP a month – supporting the growth of our sustainable communities, helping make decisions on development and building a kitty towards your next holiday.
I hope that one of our next projects is in Europe or a major city – I’d love to show that this model can be done anywhere, not just on a beach on the other side of the world.
We hope so too. Real Entrepreneurship should be celebrated and having a good idea, doesn’t always mean making loads of cash, so Ben and the whole community at TribeWanted should be celebrated and thanked for their efforts…Thank you Ben for your time and we wish you all the best for the next Island, where ever it may be….
Please visit our home page so you can check out all of the Global Entrepreneurship Week interviews and please also feel free to ‘follow’ TheEmployable’ tribe on its own journey too