We sat down with the founders of Rooftop Republic Urban Farming and Happy Retired to talk about their collaboration and collective impact. Watch the video below. (videographer / Alastair Man)
#CollectiveImpact, most of us can agree, is when two or more individuals or organizations come together to create social and environmental impact that would be greater than each of us working in silos. Simply put, in the world of social innovation, 1+1 is always greater than 2.
In this blog, we explore the beautiful collaboration between Rooftop Republic Urban Farming and Happy Retired – two distinctively different social enterprises, yet together, their collective impact is more than what meets the eye.
*Dream Impact partners with The Executive Centre to launch ESG Innovation Lab, a dedicated ESG landmark and a visionary project to accelerate corporate-social ESG solutions and development. Register your interest now to start creating collective impact with us.
Meet the creators
Every collective impact project has a trigger.
Perhaps for Andrew, Co-Founder of Rooftop Republic Urban Farming, it’s a true story that moves his heart.
“I recall a story, where two people had worked in the same company, on the same floor, for 6 years yet never met or talked to each other.
It was through an urban farming activity that they had the chance to meet, and find out that they actually went to the same university, and stayed in the same dormitory.
When we talk about building an inclusive society, I think this kind of communication and mutual understanding is very important.”
– Andrew Tsui, CEO and Co-Founder of Rooftop Republic Urban Farming
Founded in 2015, Rooftop Republic has a mission to create greater city resilience and promote a more sustainable lifestyle in the city through urban farming.
In the process of building green spaces and communities, one rooftop at a time, Andrew has met with so many farming enthusiasts and farmers. He noticed a lot of them are young retirees, who enjoy the luxury of time and are eager to give back to society.
“What we’d like to do is also to expand that impact to more people. And that gave birth to the Rooftop Republic Academy,” explained Michelle Hong, COO and Co-Founder of Rooftop Republic Urban Farming.
The program of Rooftop Republic Academy is simple: with theory classes and real-life practice, upon graduation and assessments, Rooftop Academy graduates can be an apprentice in the corporate-sponsored urban farms.
It was a straightforward program with clear intent. Budget, venue, and the team are all in position. But why stop there?
“One thing we really see as important is to not only build communities within our immediate networks, but also to look for like-minded partners to expand our impact.”
– Michelle Hong, COO and Co-Founder of Rooftop Republic Urban Farming
Meet the Partner in (Collective) Impact
One thing you may not know about, is that Rooftop Republic is one of the longest partners of Dream Impact – they have been a Resident Partner since Dream Impact opened its doors in 2017.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest advantages of being a Dream Impact partner is to meet like-minded people.
This is how the urban farming duo got introduced to Ryan, Founder of Happy-Retired.
Happy-Retired, also a Dream Impact Partner, is a vibrant community with a dedicated digital platform for the aged 50+ population to socialize, nurture hobbies, learn new things, and find jobs.
“I noticed that our members are growingly interested in urban farming. We hope that they can find a hobby through urban farming, and enjoy the happiness and a sense of accomplishment by witnessing the growth of their own plants. We also hope to offer them a chance to learn the skills to manage an urban farm, hence the collaboration with Rooftop Republic,” said Ryan.
Urban farming x Young retirees = ?
Turns out, the benefits of urban farming and improving the wellbeing of young retirees have so much in common.
The activities of urban farming involve getting outside, basking in the sunshine, and connecting with nature. It also requires frequent interaction and communication with people from different ages and backgrounds.
“This is a perfect opportunity for them (young retirees) to integrate back into the working environment, at the same time providing an opportunity to improve their health and continue their social engagement,” shared Michelle, with sparkles in her eyes.
What happens after Rooftop Republic Academy?
Just as with all projects, Rooftop Republic Academy eventually came to an end. Yet, the collective impact between these two keeps making waves to this day. How did they make it happen?
“We understand social enterprises like Rooftop Republic have manpower needs, and we’re happy to refer a few young-olds to work in Rooftop Republic, supporting their human resources and finance functions,” explained Ryan.
What the future holds
There’s no better way to deliver the vision of these forward-looking social enterprises than in the founders’ own words. So, without further ado, here’re the quotes.
“We believe urban farms can be a standard facility, just like our gym rooms and swimming pools. These farms are not just a space or a building, but a community. When we combine all these communities, it’s the future city we hope to see.”
– Andrew, Rooftop Republic
“We have already begun to see a lot of synergy in terms of what farming and improving the wellbeing of young-olds have in common. I think there’s definitely much more (collective impact) to come.”
– Michelle, Rooftop Republic
“We’re planning to launch a project called ‘Retired Academy’ so members can experience different activities on a daily basis. We also have more ESG solutions in place, helping corporates to hire young-olds through our platform. We also offer retirement planning services. With these, we hope that more people in the society can utilize the manpower of our young-olds.”
– Ryan, Happy-Retired
What can you do to create collective impact?
Dream Impact is Hong Kong’s largest network of social enterprises and impact ventures. In other words, we boast the most comprehensive portfolio of social innovation programs and ESG solutions.
Partner with us or subscribe to our ESG Innovation Lab service plans as the first step to creating collective impact with us: we are an extension of your sustainability and ESG team, ready to help you accelerate your action-driven ESG strategies, collaborate with suitable social partners and executive your ESG initiatives. We also provide Board of Directors training, inclusive hiring, stakeholder management, and more professional services.
Register your interest now to tap into our impact community of 120+ partner organizations to shape your next move into a more sustainable future.
We look forward to hearing from you.