Social enterprise in hospitality: STREAT

Could you have a sustainable social enterprise helping homeless people and selling coffee?  Surely the skills and scaling would make it unfeasible and that’s why in Australia, there are no precedents for hospitality enterprises?

Rebecca Scott is the co-founder of STREAT with her partner. It’s a social enterprise that operates cafés, coffee carts and a coffee roastery in Melbourne. They selected the location carefully after conceptualising it in Canberra initially but Canberra proved too small. They moved it to Melbourne, where the city not only loves hospitality and trying new things but also has a longer history of philanthropy. Once the idea was researched and a concrete business plan was in place, they pitched the idea to some Danish philanthropists, who ended up funding them – $700,000!

Rebecca I salut you.

Read the full interview with Rebecca for Smart Company, it’s well worth it:

we looked specifically for investors who wanted both a social and financial return on investment. So you would call them high impact investors. Every year we report to them on financial terms and very tangible social outcomes on each individual site.’

Social Enterprise in childcare: London Early Years Foundation

This feature by Social Enterprise is one of the most exciting I’ve ever read. Why?

In the future I’d love to run a nursery, giving places to families who can’t afford it. It’s been a dream of mine the last 5 years since doing work experience in a nursery. It’s great to read such an in-depth interview with June O’Sullivan, who’s the CEO of the leading childcare social enterprise, London Early Years Foundation (LEYF). She took it through a transformational process and re-brand in 2005 but was sensitive to the heritage of the company in doing so.

Its annual turnover has increased from £2m to £8.5m but she’s aiming on a turnover of £50m, by running 50 nurseries in up to 15 London boroughs (currently it’s in 5 boroughs). And she believes in a very collaborative approach.

She’s transformed it from a charity reliant on funds for 60% of its income, to being a fully self-sufficient social enterprise model and a very successful one at that.

The current economic and social climate is a good one for social enterprise, as more people are interested in doing good and moving away from pure capitalism. It’s great that the appetite is there but June doesn’t feel we’re fully capitalizing off it in childcare, as the public consciousness isn’t there quite yet. Her ambition (for social enterprise in childcare) is benchmarked against the Fair trade market, where everyone understands that you’re paying for the best because it’s doing good somewhere else.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for how LEYF do and hopefully I may even get to work with them.

Pay It Forward – Stranger kindness

I’ve been on the hunt for stories about kindness, how one person has helped another and discovered something very exciting. Something much bigger, that can connect people across the world no matter what their religion is, through simple methods – stranger kindness.

What is the Pay it Forward movement

The beauty of it is in it’s simplicity, the Pay it Forward bracelet, which acts as a reminder, something to pass onto a stranger, which creates the ripple effect: ‘Some people call us crazy, we prefer visionaries. The ideology behind “Pay it Forward” allows us the freedom to look at life from a different perspective.’

The concept is actually something that’s been around since 317 BC and Benjamin Franklin re-discovered it in 1784. In 1944 to gained traction with the development of what became the Heifer Project, whose core strategy was passing on the gift:

‘each participating family would study animal husbandry and agree to Pass on the Gift, to donate any female animal offspring to another family. In this fashion, he imagined that a single gift would multiply far beyond the original investment’

The history of Pay it Forward

Pay it Forward isn’t something new, it has a very long history. Why hasn’t it become more mainstream and part of what we’re taught at school? Why don’t we have a Pay it Forward day, to help raise the level of consciousness?

It’s incredible on so many levels, their ambition is 1 billion bracelets worldwide and I’m pretty sure Charley will reach this. He’s a very busy man but kindly did a video interview for me to answer some questions I had, which you can watch below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IgfUuzmABs]

They’re doing a worldwide book flash mob on March 28th at 4pm and here’s how you can get involved. They’d like to set a Guinness Book of World Records. Or if you’re not around then, do something nice on the Pay it Forward Day April 26th. This video is not quite the Kony video, maybe that’s because it’s not as sensational but it is realistic and a ‘Idea worth spreading’ (which Tedx guests agree with).

The Kindness Offensive – 60 second interview

David Goodfellow from The Kindness Offensive kindly agreed to do a ’60 seconds’ interview for my first blog post.
So a big thank you to him and hope you enjoy the below. Keep an eye out for the amazing Kindness Offensive events in 2012 and they’re even talking to the Government!
If you’ve done any random acts of kindness drop me a line, would love to hear about them.
The Kinder bus
Q1/I love all your ideas, great experiential ideas with really strong content created, who comes up with them?
A/Thank you. Some ideas we develop amongst ourselves, while others are brought to us. Early on we laid down our aims and then proceeded to put our backs into it; the ideas have always flowed naturally as a result.

Q2/The pitch video for the White Stuff Route master bus was obviously a winner. You were a chef before, what was everyone else’s backgrounds before TKO?
A/We’re proud to have a volunteer base from extremely diverse backgrounds. The core members include a folk musician, philosophy students and an author.

Q3/Was there something that inspired you to set up The Kindness Offensive and is it your full time professions now?
A/We started TKO to test out some positive thinking principles; after a discussion the three of us realised that we’d never really had a go at the ‘classic’ activities that are reported to ‘truly’ make people happy. What if you actually woke up one morning and started acting out of character, doing good things that the day before you would have never considered doing? Well that’s what we did and TKO is what happened.

Q4/Are there any companies you’d particularly like to work with in future?
A/I don’t think I’ll get a good nights sleep till we see the Nike Air Kindness, Coca Cola Kindness six packs and of course the Oakley TKO Frogskins.

Q5/You’ve been going since 2008, what have you found the hardest the last 4 years?
A/Group dynamics; growing a project like this has meant a constant stream of new faces and an upward spiralling set of standards that have been hard for everyone to keep up with.

Q6/Is there anything TKO need in 2012 to make things easier?
A/Premises and funding. We are working on both and feel we have excellent prospects.

Q7/How do you commercially survive?
A/Point three of our three point constitution says that all our activity has to be free to the public. So we never seek donations, we have no PayPal button on our website and no one will shake a can in your face at our events. We have survived thus far, mainly through our partnerships with companies.

Q8/The Hazelwick school kindness offensive is a great way to demonstrate consideration and being thoughtful to others, outside of R.E., would you do it across other schools?
A/We are currently consulting with the government about a proposal to develop the schools aspect of what we do. So watch this space.