The Power of Social Enterprises: Driving Change in the Food Sector

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June 19, 2024

Ivan Cardoso, General Manager at Mission Kitchen, reflects on the power of Social Enterprises

Our General Manager, Ivan has taken a dive into the remarkable world of social enterprises and their pivotal role in reshaping our society, especially within the food industry. Read on to see the social enterprises Mission Kitchen currently supports and how they're driving change.

Social enterprises blend business acumen with social impact, creating ventures that tackle societal challenges with imaginative solutions. These enterprises are not just businesses; they are change-makers. According to the latest reports from The Alternative, social enterprises reported a median annual turnover of £300,000. They employ over 2 million people and contribute a whopping £60 billion annually to the UK economy. What’s even more impressive is that over 35% of these enterprises employ individuals marginalised from the labour market, providing opportunities where they are most needed. About 45% have seen an increase in turnover over the past 12 months.

According to the Social Enterprise Barometer, 63% of social enterprises have a mission to address poverty and inequality. In comparison, 59% aim to improve mental health and well-being. Their impact extends beyond the economy, creating social value that enhances community resilience and cohesion.
Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, succinctly captures the essence of social enterprises: “Social enterprises are the key to creating an inclusive economy. They focus on solving social problems with business strategies, leading to sustainable and impactful solutions.”

But it’s not all smooth sailing; the path for social enterprises is often fraught with challenges. The Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship identifies key hurdles, such as access to funding and investment. Traditional financiers frequently shy away from businesses with a dual focus on profit and social impact, making it tough for social enterprises to secure the necessary capital. In addition, market access remains a challenge as these enterprises compete with larger, well-established businesses with more resources and brand recognition.
Social enterprises also often struggle with skills and capacity building. Building a team with the right mix of expertise and experience is crucial for growth but can be challenging with limited resources. And let's not forget the need for supportive policies. A deeper understanding of the social enterprise model among policymakers could provide necessary support and create a more favourable operating environment.
The Social Enterprise Census 2024 highlights that 72% of social enterprises report challenges with scalability, while 68% struggle with maintaining financial sustainability. The census also revealed that 56% of social enterprises are experiencing difficulties accessing appropriate support services.
Now, let’s shine a light on some incredible social enterprises making waves in the UK food sector. At Mission Kitchen, we’re more than just a shared kitchen space in London; we’re a thriving community of food entrepreneurs. Our mission is to transform the food landscape by supporting innovative food businesses, especially social enterprises and charities. We provide additional resources, mentorship, and community support to help them flourish. To further support these impactful businesses, we offer an extra 12 credits to new social enterprise or charity members with a shared kitchen membership. We always seek new ways to support them through mentorship, networking, and additional resources.
One of our shining stars is 9Kitchens, founded by Kiemy. 9Kitchens is a social enterprise that provides a platform for diverse culinary talents to showcase their unique cuisines and stories. Kiemy’s vision is to create opportunities for chefs from various backgrounds. Her work celebrates cultural diversity and empowers chefs to build sustainable careers in the food industry. They host community events and pop-ups that highlight culinary diversity. Kiemy’s dedication to empowering chefs from diverse backgrounds is truly inspiring and has a profound impact on the food industry.

Another of our wonderful partners is TERN, which supports refugee entrepreneurs in the food sector. TERN hosts their Food Power events at Mission Kitchen, giving refugees a platform to showcase their culinary talents, gain mentorship, and receive support to grow their businesses. They’re backed by KERB, a key partner of Mission Kitchen, which amplifies their impact through additional resources and support. These events and support systems offer refugee chefs a chance to shine, bringing their rich culinary traditions to a broader audience and creating pathways for them to succeed in the industry.

We can't forget our partnership with Migrateful. Since our opening, we've provided three bursaries in collaboration with them. Migrateful run cooking classes led by refugee and migrant chefs, promoting integration and empowerment through food. Our bursaries have supported chefs like Majeda Khoury, a Syrian chef based in London. Through her cooking, Majeda shares the beautiful stories of Syria. She’s a fantastic example of how food can be a bridge between cultures and an instrument for sharing untold stories.
Guncha, another recipient, uses her cooking classes to highlight the rich culinary traditions of Uzbekistan. Her journey from being a migrant to becoming a celebrated chef emphasises the resilience and adaptability of migrant chefs. Our latest bursary recipient, Hind, a Sudanese chef, focuses on traditional Sudanese dishes, bringing her heritage and unique culinary skills to her classes.

Supporting social enterprises is not just about offering financial aid or resources; it’s about building a community that values diversity, innovation, and social impact. Here, at Mission Kitchen, we are committed to nurturing this community and providing a platform for these incredible ventures to thrive.

We’re proud of our progress and excited about the future. As we continue to grow, we remain dedicated to making a positive impact on the food industry and supporting social enterprises. Together, we can create a food landscape that’s diverse, inclusive, and full of opportunities.

Are you a a social enterprise or a charity in the food sector, holla at Ivan, we'd love to welcome you into our community.

Let’s keep cooking up change!