Welcome to our Spark! Meet the Founder series, where we introduce you to the amazing entrepreneurs who are participating in our Spark! 2021 program with a quick Q&A!
Spark! is a small business pre-accelerator that puts the right people, opportunities, and access in place for local entrepreneurs in Arkansas to grow their venture to the next level.
Please meet Benjamin Harrison, founder of FareMarket. FareMarket works with Arkansas farmers and producers to bring your favorite farmers market items to your door with same-day delivery available on all orders.
The Venture Center: Why did you become an entrepreneur?
Benjamin Harrison: In 2019, I’d been a farmer and food justice advocate for five years, exploring a variety of solutions, from community gardens to worker co-ops to pay-what-you-can models at the farmers market. Each one has its limitations, and I wanted a real solution to food access inequality. I only wanted help with a website for my farm when I walked into The Venture Center. I didn’t know I’d walked into a startup support network haha!
TVC: What problem does your business solve?
Harrison: I had an idea to pair my social activities with an e-grocery startup to provide an outlet for new food businesses in low-resource communities. We do this in partnership with Sprout, an urban farming consumer co-op. Sprout is focused on meeting needs, relying on at-cost pricing strategies, volunteer labor, and member fees. Membership doubled last month, and the coop is quickly providing FareMarket with the ability to offer extremely affordable local food through our online store.
TVC: What are your hopes for your future as an entrepreneur?
Harrison: I hope FareMarket/Sprout will create a more democratic food system, better interface low-resource urban neighborhoods with struggling rural farming communities, and make cost-prohibitive local/organic foods more affordable and accessible than the unsustainably produced groceries at national retailers and neighborhood discount and dollar stores.
TVC: What are you most proud of and/or what is your biggest challenge in your entrepreneurial journey?
Harrison: This is an entirely different kind of business model, one I believe can be adopted in other areas of the market. We aim to put our communities into partnership with private enterprise. It’s difficult to explain when things have been one way for a long time and even harder to demonstrate, but this is an opportunity for disruption in saturated blue chip markets. We have been doing something no one else is for a long while, and that’s pretty satisfying.
Huge thanks to Benjamin Harrison for participating in Spark! We can’t wait to see your business grow! Sign up for our newsletter and follow The Venture Center on social media to keep up with our Spark! 2021 cohort!