Entrepreneurship | Leadership | Recruitment | Brand building | Digital marketing | E-commerce design and build | UI/UX

An e-commerce basket-shop to sponsor women groups into commercial agriculture

£ raised for women

Team members

basket collections

Challenge: Thinking entrepreneurially about fundraising

NABIO is a nonprofit I co-founded with friends from Norway and Kenya to support women to gain an income, back in 2013. The purpose is to build social enterprises that make a difference, moving away from traditional models of development.

After a series of succesful start-ups, we were ready to build a flagship project with better prospects for scale. We needed £5000 for seed funding, and were keen to apply of entrepreneurial mindset to the challenge.

Solution: Building an e-commerce basket shop 

Analysing our existing donors, we found that the majority were women with higher socio-economic standings and a heart for change. Many had shown interest in beadwork and handcrafted items from Kenya, so we saw an opportunity to tap into this. Starting by recruiting artisans in Kenya guranteed fair wages from their labour, we set out to build our venture. We succeeded reaching our fundraising goal, and in the process we grew an amazing team, a loyal client base, and a beautiful e-commerce site.

Recruiting and leading a marketing team of 6

I took the opportunity when being invited to speak at Newcastle University for 1st year marketing undergraduates, to also promote open positions in NABIO. I had been invited to advocate for using marketing in the third sector. I was thrilled to be able to share my entrepreneurial experiences an my favourite thought leaders on the subject matter. 

I left the seminar with an open call to join NABIO to build a basket shop to fundraise, and 15 students reached out. 6 were onboarded and formed the core team, all a joy to work with.

Brand building from scratch

NABIO were a few years old, but had yet to develop a brand. It did not even have a logo when we begun building the basket shop. The aesthetics were crucial for this project, so the overall brand and the ensuing platform had to match our beautifully handcrafted baskets. 

The logo itself uses a thin Montserrat font with a custom-made A giving a unique flair and referencing the weave-pattern in the baskets. The fuchsia pink were chosen as a contrast colour against an general minimalism, hinting at our boldness and impact-focus. 

Building a mobile-first e-commerce site

WordPress for easy management

We knew that many of the women that had supported us in the past were older, so a key focus was to plan the most intuitive website. Our marketing strategy included WoM, social media, and market stalls, so we also needed to ensure that the site were mobile friendly. It should feel like a native app through its navigation, speed, layout, and scale. After the brand and wireframes were all scetched up, I built the site in WordPress in order to make it easily manageable by the marketing team. Custom functions were made manually to create our exact vision for the product pages, views, customer user portal, and checkout. 

Digital multichannel marketing

With a limited budget, we were keen to make the most of our resources. It also fits nicely with my philosophy – permission marketing. People are inundated by noise and shouts for attention, and we wanted to be a cause to connect with – focusing our marketing on creating meaningful messages and content that could be shared organically through social media and WoM. We also leveraged our network to onboard influencer ambassadors that freely promoted our products.