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Scaling UK community-owned food businesses – lessons from South America?

Community-owned food businesses in the UK are a force for good: they tackle inequality and food poverty and improve community cohesion by bringing people from all walks of life together to learn new skills and access jobs, and by producing food sustainably and locally.   But very few grow and scale (84% of UK social enterprises turn over less than £1m) and this limits their social impact as well as their financial viability. The biggest challenges identified during my recent conversations with such businesses are   1) Entrepreneurship – community entrepreneurs/leaders aspire to social good but they are not natural business people 2) Scale – if these businesses scale, they lose their accountability to communities and sense of ownership by a geographic community 3) Talent – community work forces, volunteers and members don’t have the time and skills to grow a venture successfully.   I have worked with several community owned food businesses in South America which have scaled successfully, had great positive impact and addressed these three challenges without losing their community focus. Can the UK learn from them?   I shall explore this question over the next few weeks by focusing on 7 community-owned food businesses in South America, all of which have managed to scale and yet have retained their community focus, and offer lessons for the UK. More soon… Meanwhile use this interactive map to discover which community food businesses are near you !

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