Recap: Bridging the Gap through Social Enterprise

On Tuesday 14 February, the first Speaker event of Semester 2 took place at the Western Lecture Theatre. Dr Emilee Simmons facilitated an interactive talk around social enterprise. She was joined by Rob Moores, Anne Teple Clothier and David Price.

The event began with each guest introducing themselves.

Rob Moores is a social entrepreneur and founder of Growing better, an urban farm for better mental health. He started this social enterprise last March since both Rob and his co-founder, Trish, felt there was a space for people needing support but not from a charity. Having had some personal experience with a close family member, Rob realised there were massive gaps in the system and he decided to try and fill some of those gaps. They started with a therapeutic environment to grow, be creative and work within a team or individually. However, they have now expanded to some more practical help with building confidence and picking up skills. They are about to start growing again and their most exciting site is an indoor hydroponic vertical farm in Holbeck where they’ll be growing micro greens. They’re launching a big crowdfunding campaign to start this particular farm.

Anne Temple Clothier works at Leeds Beckett University and she has started volunteering for Fuel for School since October 2016. Fuel for School is part of The Real Junk Food Project and it takes part of the food waste and distributes it at schools in Leeds. Last year during an event this project fed 10,000 pupils in a day. As part of the project, visits to schools are also organised to talk to students about consumerism and a healthy diet among other food related topics. This project needs students to work with them for events, marketing and branding. Anne decided to get her students involved so that they can design learning activities and then go into schools to help deliver these activities. Anne strongly recommended getting involved with the project.

David Price founded Smart Aid. It all started when he, as a marketer, worked with a charity. David’s background is in corporate business; he was an entrepreneur before he became a social entrepreneur. ‘After ten years chasing money, you start to realise that what you have in life doesn’t really make you happy.’ After that realisation, he started Smart Aid which according to him brings him happiness. Smart Aid works by sitting down with a charity for a three hour needs analysis which then helps to create a 90-day action plan with three skills-specific goals to achieve. Volunteers then work with the charity for four hours a week in a coaching role, aiming to upskill the charity’s staff. In the end of the 90 days, a review is conducted to see what has happened.

From left to right, David Price, Anne Temple Clothier, Rob Moores and Dr Emilee Simmons discussing during the interactive session.

After the introductions, Emilee asked all three guests to think of real world problems they were facing in order to get some ideas from the audience.

Rob’s problem was getting commitment to buy a product (micro-greens) with the customer before it’s ready/grown.

Anne asked what students could bring to the table for a social enterprise that uses surplus food to ensure that primary school children have adequate nutrition and additional resources to use on teaching/learning on the curriculum.

David asked how he could find volunteer project managers who could do four hours a week on an ongoing basis to help the charity.

Lively discussion between students followed in order to come up with exciting ideas to tackle the issues on the table. Some great ideas were then discussed.

For Rob, students suggested approaching companies and using Growing better as a brand to get them to commit for their CSR. There was also talk of people interested in organic produce who would want to buy their produce.

For Anne, a great idea was to develop an app that would be able to tell you what you can make with limited food, whatever you have at home with the aim to reduce food waste in the first place. The student suggesting it called this ‘creatively cooking instead of disposing’.

For David, it was suggested that he should use his story of chasing the money to appeal to other corporate employees who’d then be interested in getting involved. Another idea was to use students since they’re keen on getting experience and project management skills.