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Eradicating child poverty by establishing ties - LettuceBee Kids

LettuceBee Kids aims to give children-in-poverty sustainable access to a prosperous future through social inclusion and education

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
17 10

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

LettuceBee Kids gives children-in-poverty sustainable access to a prosperous future through social inclusion and education. We work in underprivileged communities which lack access to fundamental needs and pathways to upward mobility. The children of these communities mostly peddle and beg on streets to help sustain their homes. We aim to give these children a prosperous future by taking them from the streets to schools. But there are multiple barriers to accomplishing this: 1. Street children have limited or no formal education. They need years of preparation to enter schools at their age level. 2. These children experience a different childhood than those in "regular" society. Transition and inclusion into broader society is necessary to keep these children in schools, and to help them become regular citizens. 3. Their families do not have the income to sustain their homes and the children's education. That income needs to be provided to sustain efforts for change. 4. All this requires money. We solve these problems by: 1. Running a school that provides primary education tailored to individual needs of these children. 2. Incorporating character building and grooming into our schooling, through our basic pillars of Arts, Music, Gardening, and Love. 3. Providing dignified economic opportunities to the mothers of these children, through training in handicrafts under our design brand Sammaan. 4. Creating and selling design products inspired by the artwork of the children in our school, under our brand LettuceBee Kids. Together, Sammaan and LettuceBee Kids ensure our financial sustainability. At the heart of our model is social connection. We connect our children to society through their stories as art and music. Our vision is to establish LettuceBee Hive - a deli and art gallery under the same roof as the school of tomorrow and a community development center, where people from all walks of life can eat, learn, and build a better future; together.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our current beneficiaries include children from ages ~6-12 and their families, in underprivileged communities in Islamabad, Pakistan. These people come from different backgrounds - some have been displaced by war and some by natural calamities - and all of them are searching for a better future. The broader society also benefits through the connections we build between different tiers of society, through partnerships with schools, universities, corporations, and people around the world. Our products are sold globally to establish ties. We have helped 300+ children and their families since the inception of our pilot program in 2012. The pilot program concluded towards the end of 2017, through which we generated $80,000+ in sales of our products to prove the sustainability of our social and financial model. Since the start of 2018, we have been scaling into a full-scale social enterprise. Our future beneficiaries are children-in-poverty all around the world.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

LettuceBee Kids is unique because: 1. We include children-in-poverty into regular society, instead of locking them away in an alternative foster universe. Children in foster programs are susceptible to gang and criminal activities once they leave the programs, owing to their lack of established social ties. We solve this problem by centering our educational program on 4 pillars of character building and grooming aimed at establishing ties. 2. We do not take donations. LettuceBee Kids has a proven self-sustainable model, which banks on tying children-in-poverty to regular society through their artwork, in the form of design products. Our financial model is centered on building a better and connected social ecosystem. 3. Our venture solves broader problems of underprivileged communities instead of focusing just on education. We help sustain the homes of our children by providing their mothers with dignified and sustainable income opportunities through our design brand, Sammaan.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

LettuceBee Kids gives children-in-poverty sustainable access to a prosperous future through social inclusion and education. Learn more and shop for our products: www.lettucebeekids.com. Keep in touch with us: facebook.com/lettucebeekids and instagram.com/lettucebee.kids Write to us: info[AT]lettucebeekids[DOT]org

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

LettuceBee Kids is the brainchild of Sarah Adeel, a social entrepreneur, designer, and architect. She researched the impact of architecture on the development of underprivileged children and studied how prosperous social structures take form through conscious design, as part of her Master's thesis at Rhode Island School of Design. On returning to her homeland, Pakistan, she founded LettuceBee Kids to give physical shape to her research, in 2012.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

LettuceBee Kids has been established in Pakistan - a developing country - where the country's economic condition has kept underprivileged communities locked in an eternal struggle to find pathways to upward mobility. We work particularly with communities host to a majority of internally displaced people, displaced by war, terrorist activities, and natural calamities, including floods and earthquakes. Owing to that, these communities are multicultural and multifaceted, mostly living in unregistered housing because of the lack of government support. Without any planning for their income sources or their children's education by the local government, these communities are stuck in their efforts to find a brighter future for themselves. That is where LettuceBee Kids is hoping to make an impact.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

LettuceBee Kids has multiple modes of partnering with organizations, depending upon their place in the social ecosystem. We partner with local schools and universities to utilize educational and infrastructure resources, which allows us to run a low-cost program. We have partnered with a local university to conduct LettuceBee Literate - our advanced digital literacy and learning program in the summers - for 6 years. We also partner with schools and universities to sell notebooks to their students which incorporate the artwork of children from our program, creating both income and societal connections in the process. We partner with the corporate sector to provide co-branded corporate gift items. We have also partnered with local and international social sector organizations to achieve mutual goals. Our latest partnership is with Shifa Foundation, aimed at expanding our program. And we have a partnership in the pipelines with Belgium's Mobile School for educational resources.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

It is well documented that Pakistan's greatest resource is human resource. We have employed over 1,000 volunteers in our years of engagement in the community, from public and private sector organizations as well as the general community. Our operations are set up in the capital city of the country, Islamabad, which gives us access to relevant players in the federal government, in order to drive policy debates for long-term impact.

Geographic Focus

Our current operations are in Pakistan. Our primary target is South and Central Asia.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

32 months, over 3 phases During Phase 1, we will expand our customer base to target $100,000 in sales, while we pilot our "Classroom of Tomorrow". This phase will last for 8 months, including testing and reporting. During Phase 2, we will develop LettuceBee Hive, which will be centered around the "Classroom of Tomorrow" and the 4 pillars of our social program, over 18 months. In Phase 3, we will invite investment for replication and expansion of our project over a 6-month period.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

LettuceBee Kids Portfolio.pdf

LettuceBee Kids - who we are, what we have done, and where we hope to go

17 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Nadia Naviwala
Team

I love Lettuce Bee Kids and your products!

Photo of Chris Lowe
Team

Hey Haseeb, Great idea that you are aiming to solve the broader problems of underserved communities, instead of purely focusing on just education- our submission has a similar outlook if you need further inspiration. Best wishes with your idea.

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Skateboarding and ICT. What an interesting combination! Checking it out. Thanks for your message

Photo of Durley Montoya ocampo
Team

I´m impressed by how you don´t take donations, this is one of my main objectives, Was it from the beginning without any donation or your company went through a transition allow you currently don´t take it. If so I will appreciate how you did the transition. Also, it is cool the design is inspiring by the children´s artwork. Hasseb, I would love to know how you made the gallery, how it works? If I can learn from you about I´ll appreciate

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Hi Durley! We started with a couple of grants to allow us to prove our financial sustainability model. Once we did that over a 5-year pilot program, we are now in the expansion phase of our program.

During our pilot program, we established both the fundamental structure of our social program and tested our primary revenue stream - design products based on children's artwork. We did a few national and international exhibitions, which allowed us to establish market outreach, demand, and do the necessary research to develop a line of products for eventual release. Then, we tapped into multiple channels of retail to expand our program financially, to allow social expansion.

To take a look at the design process as well as our products, please check the following links:
https://lettucebeekids.com/pages/about
https://lettucebeekids.com/collections/lbk-products-worldwide

Thanks for your message. Please let me know if you have more questions

Photo of Durley Montoya ocampo
Team

Oh I see you did a great pilot. Thank you for replying to me now I got ideas for me.

pd: I see in my e-mail a comment you did on my proposal, but I can not find it here on the platform to replay you. :/ .

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

This link should take you to my comment on your project:

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/review/lapeacehub/comments#c-a1f4bbc42d76628d34c32c88ac72ddfe

Photo of Courtney
Team

Hi Haseeb! This is a great proposal. I'm very impressed that you do not accept donations and are focused on long-term financial sustainability. Could you share any more about how art and design is used to financially support your venture? Also, how you connect women to dignified income generating activities?

My organization, which helps to strengthen families in Latin America and the Caribbean, is always thinking about financial sustainability. We would love your thoughts about our proposal! https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/nph-onefamily

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Hey Courtney! Thank you for the message and the questions!
Please check out these links to some of the products we sell, which are inspired by the artwork of our children and the handiwork of their mothers:

- https://lettucebeekids.com/collections/lbk-products-worldwide
- http://www.lettucebeekids.org/sammaan/safehaar-necklaces/lata-mangeshkar
- http://www.lettucebeekids.org/lettucebee-kids/notebooks-and-diaries

These should give you a good idea of the kinds of design products we create in order to generate revenue for our social program for children, and to provide dignified income opportunities to their mothers. We are currently expanding our product range as well. We make sure that we brand our products and packaging in a way that the stories of individual children and their mothers can be made known, so that lasting connections are built in the society.

Our focus is to have large corporations and chains of schools have their stationary and corporate gift items produced through us, so that a regular expense of theirs becomes a source for prosperity for our children and their communities.

I'll be sure to check out your proposal. Thank you for sharing it.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Hi Haseeb Shaikh , It's wonderful to see this amazing idea in the challenge. I personally like the term "LettuceBee Kids" which is very attractive. You have used really good visuals and the idea is very clear. However I can see that your idea is heavily centered around prosperity and it is a little bit difficult to see a direct connection with peace. Can you elaborate on that? If an organization wants to establish your solution in their country, let's say to help the street children, what should be the process?

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Hi Gayanjith! Thank you for the kind comments and the questions.
Lettuce start with peace: peace is about harmony achieved through connection. Through examples in history and through our own work, we have seen that differences give way to peace when people see the common humanity that they share. We at LettuceBee Kids work with that principle in mind when we groom street children for inclusion into regular society, along with education that will take them towards prosperity.
One of the ways in which our organization is unique is that we ensure that our children do not get locked out in an alternative foster universe. Our grooming and training program is based on arts, music, gardening, and love; all of which are practiced through connection with the society.
- Arts define and refine expression in a child, who is able to use that to connect with society.
- Music hons the physical and motor skills as well, which form the core of social skills.
- Gardening is our way of engendering a sense of the environment and developing a connection with nature for the children.
- And we practice Love by having folks in "regular" society spend time with our children and develop lasting bonds.
Street children are also vulnerable to exploitation by nefarious and provocative groups which disturb peace and damage society. Our program helps these children have strong enough connections with society so as to not be untethered and exploitable.
Most such children live in slum communities, some of which are even unregistered. The community we work with right now is situated on unregistered land with lack of fundamental resources like electricity and running water. Our presence brings legitimacy, light, and the advocacy these marginalized groups need in order to be treated like humans. That is how our project brings peace where we operate.

In order for any organization to replicate our work, we would be delighted to provide intellectual resources and help our partner organization develop the financial plan and strategy to execute the project. Our long-term aim is to replicate through a franchising model, since financial sustainability is an inherent aspect of each individual center that will be established. We have designed our social model in a way that each aspect of the social work has an associated revenue generating stream, all of which are to be housed inside a single building, as shown in the LBK Vision graphic among the first few images at the very top of this page.

Thank you for asking these questions. Looking forward to hearing what you may have in mind in terms of implementing this solution through your organization!

Photo of Allison Pinto
Team

In this clearly outlined proposal, you talk about the importance of dignity, and of social connection, which are essential. You speak to the ways you meet kids and their families where they are, and then tailor education and support to bridge their current experience with their anticipated future experience, as members of their society as a whole. And you are finding ways to do so in self-sustaining ways, without relying on philanthropy or governmental funding. That dramatically increases this effort's potential to transform power dynamics! In terms of your capacity to be responsive, are there ways in which you are already noticing how these efforts "incorporate new learning as relationships deepen, further knowledge is revealed, and community or contextual conditions change?"

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Thank you for reading through and providing a concise summary and evaluation of our project!

You make an excellent query regarding the evolution of engagement with the community over time. The outline of the project you see now is a result of multiple iterations tested as design experiments over the course of our pilot-program which concluded last year.

When we started the project, we meant for it to purely be a bridge that led street children to regular schooling and society. The plan was to groom children through our basic pillars of art, music, gardening, and love, to prepare them for entry into schools. But when we started engaging with the children, we discovered that schools were not ready to give them a chance right away. To remedy that problem, we had to ensure that we provided primary education to our children ourselves. That meant adding more resources and establishing our own school.

This change in strategy occurred hand-in-hand with another realization: when we took children off the streets, the income in their homes suffered, which made our solution unpalatable to the families of the children. To remedy that, we created a new design brand aimed solely at the empowerment of women, in order to provide dignified income to the mothers of our children.

We also observed a change in priorities within the families that we supported. Starting from a point where we were labeled as outsiders who might disturb the culture of the community, we are now at a stage where the women of the community ask us to represent them in discussions with their husbands regarding keeping their children in schools.

All this tells us one thing only: we will need to keep learning and evolving through human-centered approaches if we are to sustain. In that regard, we would love to share experiences with other entrepreneurs in the sector in order to be proactive and dynamic.

Thank you, again, for an insightful question.

Photo of Allison Pinto
Team

Great description of the evolving nature of your efforts, and the ways in which they are "human-centered" - thanks for sharing that!

Photo of Roshni Rides
Team

Haseeb, this is an absolutely amazing initiative! Being that you are in Pakistan, we should definitely share connections and resources! In the future, if you ever need help transporting kids to school, Roshni Rides would love to help!

Photo of Dr. Jin Lee
Team

As a child psychologist, I really like your idea of promoting early child development. BabyNoggin helps screen for potential delays in kids under age 8. Here’s our submission: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/universal-screening-and-universal-intervention-for-every-child We would love your feedback.

Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Thank you for your comment, Dr. Jin. The development of children at an early stage really does make a world of a difference.