An Aberystwyth businessman has set up a new scheme which aims to encourage local shopping and support for Wales’ wildlife

Rob Squires wanted to start a business that made a difference, with over 10 years of web development experience, he says he knew he could do more to benefit the community with his skills.

In the early days of lockdown, he saw a way to use these skills and make that difference possible.

Mr Squires set up Treegeneration, a business aimed at encouraging people to shop locally, as well as raise funds for a variety of wildlife projects in the process.

Treegeneration does this by selling vouchers and credits which people can spend at participating local businesses.

Mr Squires said: “It’s an opportunity for the public to help without it hurting your pocket. It’s their money that goes to supporting wildlife.

“But they’re paying for the discount at a participating business so it does not really cost them very much. Whilst the customers provide the cash, it’s the businesses that actually support the wildlife projects by adding value when they provide discounted goods and services.

“It’s a novel way for local businesses to promote themselves, get new and loyal customers, and do something good for the planet at the same time.

“I’m not trying to get people to just buy more stuff, but I am trying to get people to buy more local. It’s my hope the project will encourage armchair shoppers away from sites like eBay and Amazon.

Despite saying the project is still in its ‘infancy’, Mr Squires has been ‘encouraged’ by the engagement he’s had from local businesses so far. Mr Squires held a test rollout in December with five local businesses, and now has eight businesses partnered with Treegeneration.

Mr Squires’ ultimate goal is to have 100 businesses signed up to Treegeneration by the end of the year.

He’s also begun supporting two organisations: Aber Eco Hub and the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust.