GIY Ireland – How we supported their international expansion into the UK market

GIY is an award-winning social enterprise founded in Ireland in 2008 with the vision of creating a sustainable food system that nourishes both people and the planet. GIY supports over 1 million people annually to grow their own nutritious food and aims to reach 100 million people globally by 2030.

With operations across Ireland, GIY offers a range of inspirational campaigns, educational programs, and enabling resources to equip individuals, schools, communities and businesses with the knowledge, skills and motivation to grow their own food. Their activities range from the Big Grow program in primary schools to the GIY Gatherings for home growers to the Grow It Forward initiative for workplaces.

GIY partners with leading brands, public sector organisations and philanthropic foundations to deliver impact at scale. Notable partners include Diageo, Innocent, Sky Media and Facebook.

Introduction: 

With ambitious growth plans to expand its impact internationally, starting with the UK, GIY engaged our specialist market entry and growth services to conduct in-depth research to inform its launch strategy.

While GIY has strong brand recognition and community engagement in its home market of Ireland, it lacks visibility and connections in the UK. To successfully expand operations, GIY needed a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape, policy environment, funding options, and partnership opportunities across the UK.

Our team of advisors worked closely with GIY to provide strategic insights and recommendations to enable a sustainable UK launch and scaling strategy as a social enterprise.

The Problem:

To expand GIY’s social impact internationally, our priority was to arm the organisation with research-backed knowledge of the UK market across a number of key areas:

  • Policy Alignment – What national and local government strategies could GIY’s goals be aligned with to open up opportunities for campaigns, programs and partnerships?
  • Competitor Landscape – Who are the key existing players in GIY’s space? What are their business models, positioning and performance metrics?
  • Public Sector Opportunities – What has been the pattern of relevant contract opportunities across the public sector over recent years?
  • Access to Funding – What are the main grant funding bodies, social investors and foundations that could support GIY’s growth?
  • Partnership Prospects – Which corporates, networks and influencers could become strong partners for GIY?

The UK was identified as a strategic initial international expansion opportunity given its 10x market size compared to Ireland, shared language and culture, and existing relationships. However, without visibility into these areas, GIY would be launching into the UK market lacking brand recognition and networks. Our research aimed to enable an informed entry strategy.

The Solution:

Our team developed a multi-faceted market research plan to provide GIY with strategic insights into launching sustainably in the UK market as a social enterprise. Our key areas of focus included:

  • Policy Review – We conducted an in-depth analysis of national and local government strategies across the UK to identify alignment opportunities with GIY’s mission and goals around food education, food waste reduction, community empowerment and climate action. This enabled us to showcase relevant public sector entry points.
  • Competitor Landscape – Combining desk research and interviews, we mapped the competitive landscape, including profiles of organisations like You Can Grow and Locavore. This highlighted opportunities for differentiation. 
  • Procurement Research – We undertook historical profiling of relevant public sector contract opportunities to ascertain market size, trends and dynamics. This informed go-to-market prioritisation.
  • Funding Landscape – Our team identified and profiled grant-makers like the Climate Challenge Fund as well as social investors and foundations operating in the UK whose priorities align with GIY’s work. This illuminated funding options.

– Partnership Prospects – We researched corporates, networks and influencers in target sectors to showcase partnership opportunities offering profile, revenue and impact growth potential.

In total, our market research and strategic recommendations provided GIY with the knowledge base required to make informed decisions on their UK launch and scaling strategy.

The Outcome:

Through our market entry research and advisory support, GIY gained comprehensive perspective into the UK landscape to enable launching with confidence.

Our policy review demonstrated strong alignment opportunities with UK national and local government strategies across health, environment, climate action and education. This opened up partnership potential with public sector organisations.

The competitive analysis armed GIY with intelligence on positioning and partnerships deployed by other players. This highlighted opportunities to leverage GIY’s unique strengths in the UK market around accessibility, inclusion and translating impact.

Our historical profiling of procurement provided guidance on public sector sales strategy. We also advised GIY on registering as a supplier to access reactive contract opportunities.

The funding landscape mapping revealed a range of grants and social investment options open to social enterprises focused on food sustainability across the UK. This provided GIY with potential sources of capital to fund scaling activities. 

Additionally, we identified over 20 corporates and business networks as strong prospective partners for GIY based on alignment to their CSR priorities and community investment focus.

We also recommended a 3-phase scaling approach for GIY’s UK launch, focused on establishing B2B and B2C sales and piloting campaigns in phase 1 from 2022-2023. Our advisory services equipped GIY with the actionable, evidence-based insights required to inform successful expansion into the UK as a sustainable and impact-driven social business.

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