In honour of Social Enterprise Day, we are featuring one of our Social Entrepreneurs, Elly, and her group of young food waste warriors!
Bubble & Squeak is a children’s ran social enterprise based in West London set up last February by Elly Harrington and Lydia Gandaa. The children collect surplus food from supermarkets, markets and other outlets which they then redistribute to the local community. They sell the food on stands at school on a ‘pay as you feel basis’, whilst simultaneously drawing and selling amazing wonky fruit and veg artwork worldwide -inspired by the yummy healthy food they collect!
“The children truly embrace all aspects of the business such as running the surplus food stalls from creating and selling their artwork, to cooking the surplus food so nothing goes to waste” says co-founder Elly Harrington.
What inspired you to start this journey as an entrepreneur?
I had co-set up a successful pop up food business before and fancied a new entrepreneurial adventure where I could create change for good. This idea formulated after a while of thinking and trying different jobs, including grass root community work in East Acton, the area where I set up Bubble & Squeak. I had already done a lot of the leg work before starting the company- such as understanding the community, building stakeholder relationships and finding a business partner to work with who shared the same passions and also worked in primary school education.
What is the most valuable lesson you have gained from the Hatch Incubator Programme?
I learnt many, but the most significant would have to be to not underestimate the power of positivity to push you forward with your business. The Incubator provided a great weekly space to tap into this feeling. Everyone around you on the programme has a natural confidence in what you are doing, regardless of what stage you are at – it’s really shown how valuable it is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who understand the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.
What are some of the struggles you’ve faced? And what is your advice to other entrepreneurs to help overcome these problems?
With all the different hats you have to wear when running a business you can feel like you’re on a constant journey of up-skilling yourself. However, learning several different skills is essential to growing your business and is part of the fun of doing your own thing. My advice is to identify what you don’t know, embrace it, and then actively seek out any opportunities to change it. This can vary from going on a business course to You-Tubing a tutorial or even forcing yourself to network more to find people who know what you don’t!
What is your focus with Bubble & Squeak now?
To really develop the whole story of our brand and how to present it in the best way to grow our entrepreneurial impact! We are great at creating change but we need to also operate as a sustainable business. This is actually a really exciting prospect as we feel that there are not many social enterprises in London as unique as us, and we can’t wait to shout some more about it.
What are your views on social enterprises vs. charities?
I think the recent rise in social enterprise is a reflection on an increasingly challenging financial climate for charities/third sector. When you combine this with a younger generation who are incredibly dynamic and compassionate it becomes an interesting mix. Armed with our laptops we can challenge the status quo of the past and look at how to answer some of society’s biggest challenges in an original way that doesn’t resort back to asking for money all the time. Not to say that social enterprises are worthier than charities – it’s just a reflection on the current climate. Both could not operate without grant funding so it’s essential that social enterprises are not seen as a replacement of charities.
Why did you want to start a business with an impact?
I felt a drive to try and answer some of the needs of the local East Acton community. I had worked with the community for over 3 years and was a Community Involvement Officer at Old Oak Community Centre. This insight was very useful as it allowed me to work from within the community instead of coming in as an organisation and assuming what their needs were. My business partner Lydia Gandaa (who has extensive experience working locally in education) shared this ‘need’ led belief too. We had always believed in Bubble & Squeak’s USP – child power! We had talked about how remarkable it would be if they could own their own idea. When they came up with the concept of saving surplus food for the good of the community, we thought it was perfect and ran with it. This ‘army’ of 400 local children hold an amazing power to create an impact.
Given the growing social enterprise movement, it is never too early to engage children with the new, mission-driven business path. Bubble & Squeak gives children the opportunity to think and act in enterprising ways, and develop skills that are essential for business, such as: problem solving, decision making and risk assessment, whilst encouraging them to question existing norms and help combat social and environmental issues such as food waste.
Help Bubble and Squeak win £10000 by voting for them in the Aviva Community Fund!
Bubble and squeak pitching Video:
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