Co-Ground is an empowered global community of changemakers fuelled by social enterprise, vibrant events, volunteer-power and purpose-driven partnerships. Their education and livelihood programmes are developed by communities themselves and financed by 100% of the profits generated by the multiple activities of Co-Ground.
The Melbourne based organisation launched in 2015 in response to the devastation caused by category 5 Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. In the meantime, Co-Ground has grown to a team of 30 in Australia, 8 villages in remote Vanuatu and a growing global team of volunteers, ambassadors, entertainers and advisors.
I had the pleasure to share a lunch with Andrew, one of the most enthusiastic and passionate entrepreneurs I have ever met. He is full of life and has plenty of ideas to boost the development of this young organisation. Due to voice recorder issues, there are not that many stories below but plenty of pictures instead. Have a look and get inspired by this amazing group of people!
What we are doing has multiple facets with lots of different people, different places, different environments. Our logo represents that diversity of Co-Ground (…) It is important that the communities drive any kind of change they wish to see. That is not limited to Vanuatu. It takes place in Melbourne as well. On Epi, one of the islands of Vanuatu, we focus on education, but if we end up working elsewhere or in other communities, the priorities might be different depending on what is important for them. Even in Sara, a community in Vanuatu, for kids to attend school, it is not as simple as just working with the teacher and improving opportunities for teachers and students. It comes down to getting kids from the remote communities, the more remote villages where it rains, where there might be issues, where kids might not want to go to school, where kids might be sick and are not able to attend. There are so many different colitis to it but right now, in order to communicate well about what we are doing, we focus on education. It is a social enterprise that enables young people in Melbourne to make a difference.
We want to get away from power dynamics such as “We are here to help you.” We are all people who want similar things and we are working together to make that happen but we are driven or fuelled by social enterprise. Our events are social enterprises. We run them as paid or ticketed events most of the time, they are normally no fundraisers. However, in the course of this and last month, the events we have been running are fundraising events. But normally, the way we market our events is “You come and buy a ticket like you would at any other event at a competitive price." People want to come along because they want to see the bands or they want to come and enjoy the show. And as a result, it is having a positive impact on the communities in Vanuatu.
We planned this (crowdfunding campaign) out but we have to be willing to adapt if things are not working. We learn from that and naturally grow from these experiences (…) We only got a few bars and cafes on board, not that much internationally, more locally (…) We weren’t planning on getting a world of support but even six different cafes in six different countries helps us to tell our story. So we didn’t get so many bars and cafes on board but we did manage to sell coffee for a good cause at different events. We also got 80 performers and musicians to perform in a bath tube on our event (…) We actually set ourselves up for the future and we grow a family of entertainers which is something we were working on as well. So a crowdfunding campaign is about making money but there are so many other benefits to it. All our sponsors joined in for the events because they wanted to be involved in the campaign and we had an online digital album where musicians were donating songs. It was a great experience.
Just a few stories but let me assure you, Co-Ground and the whole team of volunteers is doing great things with loads of passion and enthusiasm. If you want to read more about this organisation, check out their website. No doubt that you will be inspired by their activities and dreams!