Fresh and organic vegetables at farmers market
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Fresh and organic vegetables at farmers market
Eva Goulbourne of Littlefoot Ventures - photo credit Katie Torres

Q&A with Eva Goulbourne

Get to know Littlefoot’s founder and CEO, Eva Goulbourne, and learn more about her professional journey and drive to work in food systems and food waste. Check out her Q&A:

What’s your business and who are your customers?

Littlefoot Ventures is an environmental sustainability consultancy dedicated to empowering businesses and foundations to develop and implement bold strategies that preserve natural resources and help future-proof our food system. Our core services focus primarily on organizational and corporate strategy to reduce wasted food, philanthropic advising, and multi-stakeholder engagement and coalition building. Reducing food waste is one of the biggest opportunities we have to mitigate the climate crisis. Littlefoot tackles the problem at every level, whether through working with the government to positively influence food and agriculture policy or helping multinational companies outline and implement waste reduction strategies.

Tell us about yourself.

Nearly my entire 14 year professional career has been in food systems. I first started at the World Economic Forum on the food security and agriculture team, supporting large-scale public-private partnerships to develop agricultural value chains in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. The Forum is the world leader in shaping the agenda on issues affecting the global supply chain, and successful multi-stakeholder engagement is the most valuable thing I learned during my time there.

I then moved on to be a founding team member of ReFED, the leading non-profit dedicated to reducing U.S. food waste. After helping found ReFED, I started Littlefoot to provide more dedicated support and services to food businesses, foundations, and nonprofits focused on creating positive environmental, social and economic impact.

In becoming a mother (and thus creating “little feet” of my own), my motivation lies in creating a safer and more equitable food system for future generations. Making connections between seemingly disparate partners, specifically through multi-stakeholder partnerships, is a passion for me and something that is essential for creating large-scale change.

What’s your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I see having repeat clients as my largest and most impactful accomplishment. There’s nothing that makes me more grateful to be part of another organization’s strategic journey than to see our projects come to life and watch these projects continue to evolve. One that stands out is the great work I’ve been a part of with Hellmann’s. Their leadership on federal policy to standardize date labels—one of the biggest drivers of food waste—continues to inspire me.

What’s one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the biggest challenges is having to manage all parts of the business. There’s no HR person, Communications team, or other sounding board. You really have to get creative and trust your instincts. Along with that, the ideal rate of growth for a business is highly personal and hard to calculate. When it comes to new business development, I work hard to strike a balance between focusing on existing work and continuing to pursue new challenges. Essential to all of this is continuing to remember the inspiration and passion that got me started, which always assures me that I’m on the right path.

What are the top tips you’d give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Relationships are everything. How you interact with not only prospective clients but your whole team, people who might use your product or service in the future, matters. Being authentic and leading with kindness, and respecting the expertise of others is essential.
  2. Find your niche and stick to it. I found my way into the (very small!) food waste industry, where I primarily work today, almost by happenstance. I’ve enjoyed watching the industry grow. I feel confident in understanding how the industry operates with both the longstanding players in the space and the innovators.
  3. Surround yourself with inspiring and motivating mentors and colleagues. These figures have served as sounding boards, trusted confidantes, and guides to me on my journey. Being a business owner can be lonely, so having a team of supportive advisors to help you through challenging times makes a world of difference.