2020 was a big year for everyone. Luckily Aggie Global survived and surprisingly had our biggest year yet. So to keep up the tradition, we wanted to summarise 2020 and our impact so far!
After launching the ecommerce website in December 2019, we were eager to get back to Fiji and start getting hotels and resorts using the platform.
However, quickly after getting to Fiji, hotel capacity had dropped from 80% to 20% and simply didn’t have the funds to be buying the niche and hard to find produce we had available. So we quickly had to rethink our strategy and how we were going to survive without international tourism.
At the same time (luckily!), we received enquiries from individual consumers and businesses inquiring about potted plants, flowers and different oils in order to make beauty products, such as shampoos or soaps. The transition to these buyers was reasonably easy, due to our extended farmer network, so we started supplying beauty manufacturers during February.
Due to the growth of Aggie Global over the last year, we decided now was the time to atleast start looking at employing local staff so Aggie Global could have a local presence all year round. We started interviewing potential staff in Suva, Nadi, Sigatoka, Lautoka etc. Before heading back to Australia, we had decided on a staff member for when we were ready to hire.
By the end of February we were starting to hear more about the Coronavirus and how it was spreading internationally. We kept up to date with the Australian governments’ advice, and before borders closed we decided to travel back to Australia indefinitely. The very next day, Fiji had their first case of COVID (which was quickly isolated and no outbreaks occurred in Fiji, whoo).
With so much uncertainty and coming off the back of Black Summer, droughts and flooding in Australia, Lisa and I were determined to help our Aussie farmers. So we launched Aggie Global in Australia.
In Australia, we had no direction as to where to start, so after much brainstorming and trying to find a niche market, we decided to test a Corporate Gift Box campaign filled with all local products. Within the first week of the campaign launch, we had our first Aussie Sale so we knew we were onto something.
After operating in Australia and trying to find unique local products (a huge value proposition in Fiji for our buyers), we discovered that Indigenous Australians were grossly underrepresented in the Australian Bushfood Industry. To us, we want Indigenous Ausralians to be at the forefront of their native foods and, what should be, their industry. During the gift box campaign at the end of 2020, we included an Indigenous Gift Box that showcased many native foods and Indigenous products and although all Bush food ingredients were sourced from Indigenous communities, only one of the suppliers identified as an Indigenous Australian. So for 2021, we are on a mission for Aggie Global Australia to be a voice for Indigenous Australian producers and to promote their involvement within the Bush Food industry.
Back in Fiji, we tested out the home delivery of food boxes, which included themed Diwali boxes or unusual Fijian products, such as home made pesto, sourdough bread and vegan cheese! We hired 2 staff, with Elizabeth Grace becoming full-time by the end of 2020. Elizabeth is a fantastic employee, who is hardworking and strives under pressure. Slowly, Liz is becoming the face of Aggie Global Fiji, which is highlighted in her interview on Fiji TV mid-year, where she promoted our food boxes and talked about all things Aggie. We are proud to have Liz on the Aggie team, and cannot wait to finally meet her (and her sweet family) in person once it is safe to get back to Fiji.
Other media Aggie Global was involved in includes a podcast interview with In Kind Company (yet to be released), newsletter interview and Scale Investors Podcast. Older media includes Small Biz Matters Radio interview, Impakter Up’s Blog, Humans of Agriculture Interview.
We also attended many in-person events thanks to Elizabeth and our farmers, including the first VegFest in Fiji, ROC markets, Agriculture Field Days and in Australia, Lisa and Zoe attended PauseFest and competed in their startup pitches prior to Covid limited face to face events.
Lastly, we worked on many opportunities this year, including building up the foundations to export Fijian products to markets like Japan and other Pacific islands (so stay posted to hear updates on this!).
And last but not least, our IMPACT!
Ultimately, Aggie’s community grew from 10 farmers to over 60, and over $20,000AUD went straight back to remote community members. We went from one country to two and diversified our product range to create a more inclusive community.
For our customers, we were doing up to 7 deliveries in each week (one a day!) which was fantastic, as we started at one delivery a week in 2019. We even had a few deliveries to SE Asia and Europe last year, so we are slowly gaining more traction and awareness of our work.
We can’t wait to work with some of our new partners to create more impact and grow Aggie digitally in 2021.
A lot has happened and we are really proud of our community and our team for helping us get to where we are today. We really couldn’t do it without your support and your feedback helping us improve our products and services. So cheers to 2020 despite it’s challenges and now it’s time to look onward to all the big things that we are sure are to come in 2021.
Photo Credit: Received from Gulbarn Tea, taken by Kate Atkinson.