Although many of us aspire to be more ethical and shop responsibly, it can be challenging.

The first ever Glasgow Good Ideas Class has now finished and its 5 social innovators are working hard to make change. Unfortunately the usual end of Class celebration, the Social Innovation Showcase, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But we’ve launched the #HelpMakeChange campaign to introduce you to the Glasgow Class and opportunities to work with them to deliver social change.

Each Class member has a unique request. A specific ask that, if fulfilled, will help them make a bigger impact in this next stage. Read on to find out if you can help social entrepreneur Mark Johnson make change. 

Inspiring people taking inspiring ideas and transforming them into something with a positive impact is what drives Good Ideas. 

One of these inspiring people is Mark Johnson. His venture sets out to make ethical online shopping easier, so responsible consumption can be more accessible.

Mark Johnson Good Ideas Glasgow 2020
Mark Johnson | Good Ideas Glasgow 2020

Starting the Social Innovation Journey / The Problem

Much like our other Glasgow Alumni Petra, whose social venture aims to increase sustainability within the footwear industry, Mark identified a problem with the way consumption currently happens. Although many of us aspire to be more ethical and shop responsibly, it can be challenging. There are many different ethical and local producers and retailers, but they can be hard to find. It’s made even harder by the fact that these often operate individually. Because of this, many people simply do not have the time to source products which align with their morals. 

Having identified the problem he would like to challenge, Mark submitted his application to join our Glasgow Class and do something about it. 

Buying Into Ethical Consumption / The Solution 

Having identified a gap in the market, a bright idea grew for how to fill that gap and support ethical shopping. His social venture plan is centered around developing an app which creates a one-stop-shop to make it a much easier task. This marketplace links a whole host of local and ethical producers and retailers together. Not only this, but it will include a handy feature that lets users add filters. This way, shopping can be done based on individual values and ethics. Mark’s theory of change assumes that a more user friendly interface will create fertile digital soil for ethical businesses to be seeded and to grow. The goal is a place for people to shop and rest assured that they are supporting fair labour conditions, the environment and beyond. The benefits, Mark hopes, will also extend to communities.

Bringing Good People with Good Ideas Together / The Experience

We asked Mark about his experience at Good Ideas and he told us:

“I chose to get involved in the Good Ideas programme because I had a plethora of social enterprise ideas, but this one has the potential to drive all of those and other people’s too. Convenience and technology should be utilised to help people to make small conscious changes to their individual consumption. These self identified tweaks have the potential to amass to huge environmental impact globally. By accelerating the growth of other social enterprises we unlock the potential to completely alter the face of our communities for the better. The scale of my idea meant I didn’t really know where I had to start on that journey.

It was really empowering to see that there’s actually lots of people driving for social change, but in their own unique way, and I wanted to go on that journey with them.”

It’s Teamwork The Makes a Dream Work / The Pivot

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic Mark has been listening to what the community needs now. Scotland’s key workers; cleaners, carers and paramedics who are keeping the country going are facing vending machines, closed canteens and supermarket queues. Local traders are struggling in this crisis but also want to help where they can. Communities want to support local food banks to combat the increase in food poverty they are seeing in their neighbourhoods. These three groups collided and were the catalyst for Scran4TheClan.

Partnering with Food and Health partnerships and a group of volunteers Mark has pulled together a team to create a campaign for community solidarity and alignment. They’re providing a service linking local hot food traders with volunteers to provide meals for key workers. Scran4TheClan is setting up a ‘grub hub’, a roadside drop point for a drive by messages* drop. Meals are on a pay what you can afford basis so that revenue can be reinvested back into the community and help sustain local economies. 

(* messages – scottish for shopping)

Mark told us:

“For this to have developed from something that was rattling around inside of my head is down to the team around me. I really have to give credit to them. They may have come around a vision of mine but they’ve come together as a community themselves to take this forward. I couldn’t do any of this stuff without the backing of the individuals that are around me. My own personal community have also supported me in developing something for community benefit as well. It’s teamwork that makes a dream work.”

“All of these organizations and groups are stronger for community cohesion. Local people buy from local traders and local traders are recycling a small portion of their revenue back in local communities. This community giveback, beyond localised employment, creates biospheres within communities. Shops are not separate to their communities or vise versa. you rely on your local shop just as much as it relies on you and people are having a renewed recognition of that.”

As things come down around our ears, the tendency is to turn inwards. Mark is doing the complete opposite asking how can we build connectivity and creativity of thought by working across these different areas and connecting them. There’s the energy and enthusiasm of a volunteer force that has arrived almost out of thin air; There’s the structure of existing community anchor organisations and their food banks. And there are local traders that have been shouting for a long time, that they desperately need support. 

Steps Towards Change / The Asks

After a rapid fire pivot Mark is quite clear on what he needs right now to take this project forward. He’s looking for connections to local traders, community anchors, food banks, mutual aid groups along with social enterprise networks and producers and services providers with a strong ethical and environmental ethos.

Can you connect Mark with these organisations and #HelpMakeChange? Get in touch with him on 07738 072919.

If you feel inspired to make a change, we invite you to get in touch and find out if the Good Ideas programme is for you. 

Stay safe and take care 🙂

Shop sign photo by Richard Balog