Foodstuffs

Wednesday, 01 August 2018

Social Enterprise makes a sustainable difference

It’s refreshing to see some good and balanced conversation about Social Enterprise. 

 

Foodstuffs has long been a supporter of ‘traditional’ charities like the Starship Foundation and will absolutely continue to do this. But we see the emergence of Social Enterprise as an evolution and one that allows more businesses to do good. 

Our customers demand “doing good” to be core in all our brands and it’s at the heart of the way our stores operate in communities. Nationally we donate millions of dollars and in-kind product to many organisations, and this is matched at a store level. Every one of our owner-operators builds community support into their business plan – from ‘bangers’ and buns for the local sports club sausage sizzle, to funding defibrillators which literally save our customers’ lives. 

Customers know when a brand is being authentic and will walk towards you if you deliver on ‘doing good’. 

We have partnered with some good Social Enterprises. This year we’ve got right in behind Thank You to kick start their entry into New Zealand, Grin as they target the improvement of children’s oral health and Eat My Lunch as an impact investor and shareholder. 

Part of our plan is to ensure ‘food is not a privilege’ in New Zealand. Eat My Lunch sits alongside our extraordinary four million food rescue meals, Food for Thought and keeping prices lowest at PAK’nSAVE. Our investment in eat My Lunch made a lot of sense. 

When we signed on – our priority was to look for impact. How could we quickly and meaningfully make a substantive difference? How could we help Eat My Lunch get to 25,000 lunches a day (their stated objective) as quickly as possible? The end result would be more children, with full tummies, ready to learn and develop their true potential. 

We looked hard at the separation of “buy” and “give” and were wholly satisfied that the support and volunteerism for “give” is separated and actually all of the volunteer hours, all of the supplier support only goes into the “give” business. A slice of the “buy” earnings also makes it possible to have given 870,000 lunches to date to kids who would not have had them otherwise 

The Eat My Lunch team is a determined bunch of awesome people led by Lisa and Iaan who have made huge personal commitments. They have created a Social Enterprise which is loved by their employees and their volunteers – but MOST importantly, by the children and their teachers who benefit directly from a nutritious, free lunch. To date more than 870,000 lunches have been given. 

The natural tension that being a business creates, i.e. being efficient, is hugely valuable. It keeps the organisation honest and pressure inspires innovation and creative solutions. 

New Zealand has thousands of charities – all established with a goal to do good. A working understanding of Social Enterprise is still in its infancy in New Zealand, but right now there are some positive examples of people doing it well like Eat My Lunch, Kilmarnock and Nanogirl Labs who are actually having a positive and sustainable impact on poverty, workplace equality for people with disabilities and education. 

Rather than fear the evolution of these social entrepreneurs – let’s embrace their exciting new approach. 

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