Food AWARE is a ‘not for profit’ social enterprise dedicated to finding ways of redistributing surplus food from potential waste to human consumption or other environmentally friendly means of reuse.
Sean Gibbons, Managing Director set up Food AWARE because food waste is something he gets very upset about. It annoys him when so much food gets wasted every day yet many people still do not eat healthily. One of his key objectives is to redistribute healthy 5-a- day produce e.g. tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, fruit etc to encourage healthier eating.
The company currently collect and redistribute over four tonnes of quality-control failing ’5-a-day’ produce every week in partnership with local suppliers such as International Produce, MH Poskitt Ltd, Humber Growers and Hedon Salads.
He is passionate about trying to change the model of food waste management in the UK by working across public, private and the third sector and significantly reduce the 18 million tones of edible food that ends up in landfill each year with an annual value of £23 billion.
Sean has received support from Business Doncaster through the Social Enterprise network CSEP and since starting the company, has recruited an additional three members of staff and an apprentice.
We asked Sean a few questions about running a social enterprise:
Who / what was your inspiration for starting in business?
I was appalled at the amount of food waste in the UK and at the same time, the amount of people suffering from food poverty and deprivation. I felt that the best way to help tackle these issues was to start up a social enterprise (‘not for profit’ organisation) which needs to operate as a sustainable business model in order to survive. I am also inspired by people like Lord Sugar and Jamie Oliver.
What has been the biggest challenge for you?
Keeping focused! There are so many opportunities out there to tap into e.g. public sector commissioning, raising education, environmental impact etc and it is sometimes extremely difficult to develop the project when there are so many other things going on. I am constantly trying to keep myself on top of the business as opposed to being in the business!
What do you like most about being your own boss?
I really enjoy the opportunity to follow my own ideas through and the flexibility of being able to choose what I focus my time and energy on. Also, I thrive on my own motivation which then impacts on others!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Think hard about your business idea and do some research and basic business planning before you jump in. Make sure that you create enough opportunities to give yourself a good start. Use your network of friends/colleagues etc to bounce initial ideas off.
Future plans, where do you see yourself and your business this time next year?
I see myself and Food AWARE continuing in our local success across Doncaster and South Yorkshire but also raising the national profile of the business as more people become aware of our project and what we are trying to achieve across the UK. In view of the current spending cuts, the need for the Food AWARE project is significantly increasing as more people become reliant on our support