Celebrating its 12th anniversary, the Local Entrepreneur Forum (LEF) takes place on Thursday, May 16 at The Royal Seven Stars in Totnes, from 6pm.

This popular annual event is set to help put four community projects at the forefront of the local circular economy in Totnes.

The four projects chosen to pitch their ideas include E-CoCars, a car sharing club; Fresh Flour, working with local organic farmers to grow crops and produce tasty food; Totnes Pulse, a digital newspaper to hold the state to account; and Your Get Togethers, seeking to relocalise culture by jazz artist Mama Tokus.

Each proposer will present their idea for expanding their project to a ‘community of dragons’ in the style of Dragons Den yet without the straightforward ask for financial investment. They also ask for contributions in kind, from lending equipment, sharing knowledge and skills, or by volunteering your time. People can pledge their support by investing in these projects in any way they feel they can. 

To date, 48 projects have pitched. Over 300 people have played the role of ‘community dragon’ and have made over 1200 ‘investments’.

Organised by Jay Tompt, coordinator of the REconomy Project in Totnes, which includes a shared office space at The REconomy Centre on Leechwell Street, this local ‘Dragon’s Den’ with a difference forms part of a blueprint for citizen-led economic transition in Totnes. It’s part of the solution to making our communities more resilient in the face of economic collapse and the rising cost of living crisis. Jay said: “If we'd like to see our community become more convivial, more resilient, and more regenerative, this is one very good way. By investing ourselves in the convivial, resilient and regenerative projects being proposed and developed by our friends and neighbours. The LEF has been the catalyst for many of our favourite social enterprises in Totnes and district, securing the success of these businesses and nurturing the people and projects they support.”

Co-founder of Transition Town Totnes, Rob Hopkins calls it “one of the top ten innovations coming out the Transition Movement that could begin to turn the economic crisis around”. Transitiontowntotnes.org