SUPPORT for SOCIAL ENTERPRISE and COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
f3 has wide experience of helping facilitate community food projects and community businesses.
Several f3 members have helped to establish leading UK examples of community enterprises, learning much about legal structures, governance, business planning and social integration, from the coalface! We have skills both in managing participation from the grass roots up, as well as understanding how to set up and run a community business.
Our experience and capacity includes:
- Legal structures and governance models
- Funding, including community share offers
- Participatory models
- Business planning and local marketing
- Food hub models
We’ve helped develop solutions for a huge range of projects such as:
- Farmers’ markets and festivals
- Market gardens
- Community shops and community cafes
- Food hubs and buying groups
- Collaborative ventures
- Social firms
Stroudco Food Hub
Stroudco Food Hub is a not-for-profit grocer bringing together an ever-expanding and exclusive range of locally produced artisan food, drinks and more. Weekly order cycles can be made online, and collected or delivered to the door. Over 80 small-scale local producers find a route to market through the hub, and for some this is their only outlet.
It is set up as a co-operative of producers and consumers. The Stroudco manager is paid £10 per hour and is supported by a voluntatry management group and volunteers help sort and pack orders.
See Stroudco website
The Stroudco team are part of an international partnership developing community food hub software. For more details see Open Food Network
Trading for Success - marketing and finance for community enterprise
Trading for Success is a plain English introduction to marketing and finance for community food enterprises. Content includes helping enterprises identify:
• What is distinctive about the product or service they offer;
• How their product or service matches the customer’s needs;
• Whether the enterprise can be financially viable;
• How to find and keep customers, and deliver products or services efficiently;
• How to keep adapting and innovating to meet new challenges.
See the guide online
Business planning and marketing advice
We have helped tens of community enterprises to set up, establish their vision and objectives, create a business plan, develop an approach to marketing and sales, and manage finances. Here is a small selection of them:
- Somerset Local Food Direct – we prepared the original business plan, for what is arguably the UK’s most successful local food hub
- RCMA – who run Cardiff’s 4 weekly farmers’ markets and many other food initiatives; voted best social enterprise in Wales
- Stroudco – establishment and on-going management by one f3 member, and an independent review by another f3 member of marketing opportunities leading to a 10% increase in profits
- The Community Farm, Bristol – a review of management structures and operational decision making
- Highlands & Islands Local Food – two projects to help consider creating a food distribution business, based on a study tour of SW enterprises
- Manchester Veg People – a review of marketing strategies, and helping this local organic veg hub to meet public sector procurement criteria
Community Food Enterprise and the Private Sector: Exploring the potential of collaboration
This research report, prepared for the Making Local Food Work programme, explores how mutually beneficial relationships between community enterprises and private businesses could strengthen the food sector of tomorrow.
Many community food enterprises face the major challenge of becoming an efficient business. At the same time, many private sector businesses are seeking ways to become more socially and environmentally ethical. Collaboration could suit both parties in achieving their separate aims.
This report explores the business narratives of a limited number of different community food enterprises from the UK and other countries, and highlights the benefits and potential pitfalls of collaborating with the private sector.
The collaboration experience of each of these community food enterprises provides valuable evidence that could help to shape the future of other like-minded enterprises – from well-established organizations to ones that are just starting out.
Open Food Network
In 2014 Stroudco Food Hub and three other local food hubs secured funding to adapt the open source Open Food Network (OFN) software that was developed by the Open Food Foundation in Australia. f3 and Stroudco director Nick Weir has taken on a key UK development role for OFN.
OFN’s vision is to enable independent enterprises to be connected in an infinite combination of relationships using a flexible and independent online system. Instead of building software for one hub, it taps into the power of networks linking together shoppers, independent retailers, groups of farmers and food co-ops/hubs.
OFN is 100% not for profit and open source. For more details on OFN (UK) click here