Customers across the UK will soon be able to shop online for locally sourced products. MostlyLocal, a not-for-profit social enterprise, is about to launch a website that sources products from independent suppliers close to the purchaser, including co-operatives.
In 2012, only 1% of retail takings stayed local while food prices are expected to rise by 20% by 2018. “MostlyLocal captures consumer buying power and gives it back to local people to boost local businesses and charities,” says George Osborne, founder of MostlyLocal, who aims to start a consumer revolution that feeds local economies.
To achieve this, MostlyLocal is developing a mechanism that allows people to choose who receives the margin from retail trade. The margin then goes back to the community through MostlyLocal, which divides it among local producers, retailers, charities, community causes, development projects, training programmes or co-operatives – according to the wishes of the people buying their household needs through MostlyLocal.
Mr Osborne hit on the idea for MostlyLocal while working as a director of a mining company in the Far East, where he became familiar with the world of outsourcing through an Australian colleague.
“The benefits to local communities was clear but the resulting anxiety about job losses back in Australia was also real and was mixed with a good dose of misunderstanding too. But after a lot of thought and observation I formed a positive view about the opportunities for everyone involved.”
After his return to the UK, he witnessed the impact of the banking crisis, which put an extra burden on businesses and young people. “I developed the view that the cornerstone of a cohesive society and economy was not the ‘wild west’ dogma of the 1980s or its relics, but the rediscovery of traditional communities and skills. So long as these were firmly rooted, then external influences would be less able to threaten our security,” he said.
With this in mind, he founded MostlyLocal as a social enterprise built around the principles of a charity. He says MostlyLocal will foster local skills and generate economic growth through local businesses, including food producers, community shops and co-operatives. One of the supporters of MostlyLocal is Geraldine Peacock, visiting fellow at the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, who was the first chair of the Charity Commission.
MostlyLocal has already developed a website, although the official launch is not until autumn.
“The enterprise is currently getting the message to independent businesses that sell, make, bake, grow, sow, fix or advise – of course, including co-ops. We want them all to understand that MostlyLocal is for them, is free, and there are no ‘catches’,” said Mr Osborne.
• For more details, visit: www.mostlylocal.com