Social enterprises are an integral and important part of the business sector and produce products and provide services for gaining profit in the same way as any other enterprise. However, an important difference between them and traditional businesses is that social enterprises use the profits generated to solve a social challenge. In the field of food, gastronomy and culinary heritage sector we can find good examples of successful social enterprises in project partner countries that combine their social mission with providing goods and services on the market:
For example in Hungary the Fructus Start Dairy Product Social Cooperative operates as a dairy, they have pasteurized milk, cocoa, kefir, yogurts and cheeses, produce the jam for yoghurts, but they also undertake contract manufacturing with the mission of offering jobs to people in local difficulty. The aim is to gain profit, but it focuses mainly on the employment of local people and to produce a product that is marketable.
Het Ambacht is a restaurant in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Their main activity is to prepare exceptional dishes at an affordable price ( e.g.Organising a free Christmas dinner for people who cannot celebrate Christmas due to lack of financial means, Sports gala Fryslan VIP catering) The restaurant tries to help young people with a distance from the labor market to complete their education and a career in the hospitality industry.
The BBBFarming initiative in Spain is a small social enterprise in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector. Its main activity consists of offering services related to organic agriculture and olive growing, with diversification of agricultural activity. Their mission is as follows: “We want to bring organic farmers closer to their people in the city through the web, video streaming and social media.
In Romania the Gyimesi Skanzen Penzion provides accommodation for tourists and also functions as event venue for weddings, camps and various corporate events. It is mainly based on supporting the local economy through the employment of local people, use of local resources and suppliers. Moreover, involving the local community in the programmes, events they offer as well as establishing networks with them and also the visiting guest for future collaboration.
The SunFarm Camp in Bulgaria operates in agri-food and tourism, accommodation and food services, culinary art, as well as entertainment and recreation, providing to customers a variety of accommodation and culinary services. The SunFarm Camp is a project and mission of the association „New Perspectives for Development“ and exists and develops with the belief that the young people are the future of Bulgaria.
The Social TeaHouse is a small social enterprise with several owners located in Varna, Bulgaria. The economic sectors of operation of the enterprise are gastronomy and food wholesale and retail trade, providing to customers (on regional, national and EU levels) various restaurant and culinary services, as well as opportunities to use event halls. The Social TeaHouse functions as a bistro, event halls and a shared workplace and gives first job and mentoring support to young people deprived of parental care, or to those who grew up in a problematic family environment.
The impact of the Social TeaHouse on the local community is very easy to be measured – all of the organised cultural formats and charitable initiatives are of great interest; their cause is already popular and more and more representatives of the civil sector are involved in it. The effect of their work with the target group can be traced among the successfully realized professional young people who have gone through their program – more than 50% find their way and lead a fully independent and decent life.
The Social TeaHouse has established partnerships with local authorities and institutions. The building in which the Tea Room is located is a shared property between the Municipality of Varna and the District Administration while at the same time also has free access to various family-type accommodation centers and enjoy a full and fruitful cooperation on their behalf. The Tea Room often implements activities in cooperation with other NGOs and social enterprises – cultural events, volunteer initiatives, activities organised under the mentoring program and others. In the recent years the Tea Room also emphasizes on business partnerships to which corporate products and services are being directed.
The team of the Social TeaHouse has countless „lessons learned“ – both successes and failures. As a good practice, it can be pointed out the investment in their team. At first, they thought they could improvise the services offered and rely on their popularity to be associated only with their cause, but this turned out to be the wrong business model for their enterprise. Then, they start to redirect more financial and time resources in the quality training and selection of their staff, and today, the Tea Room has a team in which each position is occupied by a specialist in each of the specific fields. This not only improves the quality of their services and makes them competitive with other companies that do not invest in social activities, but also gives them much more financial profitability.
The most important advice for future social entrepreneurs is: It is very important to be surrounded by a serious team of people with similar values and goals.
The company Tierra Inquieta was created in 2019 by Manuel Gil, with the mission of creating innovative spreads from Extremaduran agriculture’s products of the highest quality.
In this sense, the concept of “Tierra Inquieta” was born from the union of two fundamental ideas: food grown in the land of Extremadura and the concern of its founder to innovate and respond to new needs in the regional food market, resulting in a range of spreads made from ingredients such as regional olive oil or the best vegetables, respectful with the environment and with a new group of consumers committed to sustainability, local products and vegetarian/vegan food.
“Tierra Inquieta” successfully integrated the love of its founder and team for the rural area of Extremadura, but also for its gastronomy. It is a the materialization of Manuel’s desires to create a positive impact in his community, by building a brand of organic / vegan pâtés from Extremadura, in which we bet for natural flavours and for being a healthy and original alternative in food, in which products can be saved from allergens.
But, how did the idea for such a socially impactful enterprise come up? Manuel Gil saw a market opportunity in the organic and vegan spreads sector, which would provide quality nutrients to consumers, made from extra virgin olive oil and high quality local products from Extremadura, and are specifically formulated to avoid any allergens. This process was only possible thanks to the co-creation of its founder with the research centre CTAEX (Centro Tecnológico Agroalimentario de Extremadura) and his own father, a research cook in a restaurant in Los Santos de Maimona (Extremadura).
Social enterprises are an integral and important part of the business sector and produce products and provide services for profit in the same way as any other business. However, an important difference between them and traditional businesses is that social enterprises use the profits they make to address a social challenge.
Aaron inherited a large piece of land and decided to give up his previous office work and produce some kind of product for which he would produce the raw material. The environmental conditions are favourable for the planting of blackberries, this plant is not typical of the area, so jams and drinks made from it will find a suitable market as local products. He started planting the blackberries and gained information on how to care for and when to harvest. Meanwhile, he also took the time to market research, as he planned to launch a new product and could not decide whether there would be a greater demand for blackberry jam or syrup, or even for beverages. For the market research, he created a Facebook page for the estate, called Blackberry Park, and informed those interested in the first posts that a blackberry plantation had been started, and he would produce a local product from its crop. It began the needs survey with a vote aimed at determining which two products would hit the market first. Voters could choose between jam, jam, syrup or drink.
Votes revealed that the greatest interest would be in jam and syrup. The next step was to assess the proper formulation and flavouring. Aaron learned from the new vote that the jam would be in the best-selling natural flavour as well as a cinnamon version in a 350g bottle. In the case of the syrup, those interested also asked for a sugar-free version, typically a 1-liter package was popular. With the help of the information obtained, Aaron launched a pre-order campaign where cinnamon and plain jam as well as sugar and sugar-free and honey-flavoured blackberry syrup could be ordered for 70 percent of the planned price. The purpose of the pre-ordering campaign was to get Aaron to confirm after the voting what the best-selling product and the pricing he had thought was appropriate. Following the market research, the production and successful sale of the products began.