Helping jobless young people one macaroon at a time
A firm believer in having her cake and eating it, Rosie Ginday (ambassador of the Social Entrepreneur Index) talks to us about why she started her social enterprise, Miss Macaroon and the difference it is making to jobless young people in Birmingham.
For jobless young people, Rosie Ginday’s social enterprise Miss Macaroon is making a real difference - by baking with a difference.
Rosie Ginday likes to have her cake and eat it – or at least bake her cake and use the proceeds of its sale to help others.
Or, to put it in yet another way, Rosie is in business, but is also in the business of making a positive social impact. The 34-year-old from Coventry is living proof that making a profit doesn’t come at the expense of social responsibility – just the reverse.
And that is increasingly recognised, for her Birmingham based business Miss Macaroon has won a string of awards: winner of Business in the Community Collaboration; shortlisted for Best Consumer Facing Social Enterprise; and winner of the Big Venture Challenge Award 2015.
The business, which makes, hand pipes, bakes and hand fills macaroons, started up seven years ago with just £500 of capital. It now employs six people and has an annual turnover of nearly £350,000, supplying macaroons to – among others – Google, Instagram, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Virgin Money, Lloyds Bank and Karl Lagerfeld.
It’s the only patisserie in the world which can Pantone colour match macaroons and so can match them exactly to corporate colours.
“It’s quite a scientific process,’’ explains Rosie. “It’s a very specific algorithm that works for one portion of the colour wheel and we have another that works for a different part of the colour wheel, so it is quite precise.’’
But hers is more than just a business; it’s a social enterprise that seeks to provide opportunities for young people seeking a career and to build their confidence. All of its profits go into funding MacsMAD, Macaroons that Make a Difference, training course to enable long-term unemployed youngsters, aged 18 to 25, to build their confidence and skills so that they can find jobs.
“We work with young people and put them on our 10-week training programme,’’ says Rosie. “They learn basic pastry production skills, employability skills and personal and social development skills. We tailor the course so it changes with every group depending on what issues they have. We might add wellbeing, we might add more of a focus on budgeting. We always introduce them to employers and do employability. We work on their functional maths and English and do food hygiene level 2 qualifications, some work experience and then help them to get into jobs.
“I was a teacher for a short while and taught English as a foreign language. We get experts in when we’re doing the wellbeing sessions, when we’re supported by Virgin Care Private, and when we’re doing the employability stuff we’re supported by Cohesion Recruitment who all give their services for free.’’
The young people use Miss Macaroon’s production kitchen or macaroon and prosecco bar to hone their new-found skills.
They hear from peer mentors who are MacsMAD graduates with jobs. A local luxury hotel partner hosts the trainees for a tour and introduction to the head chef and one-to-one mentoring provides support throughout the course, during follow-on work experience and into employment for up to six months. MacsMAD trainees leave the course with a five-year plan, up-to-date CV, extensive interview practice, industry contacts and help to apply for jobs.
So far, Miss Macaroon has helped 48 young people.
She cites one case: “We had a young guy who had been in trouble with the law and he was essentially homeless. He did the course in 2014 and now he has been a chef for three years and he has really sorted his situation out. He has a stable tenancy and a much better relationship with his parents and has been able to rebuild his life.’’
She works with charities, housing associations and Job Centre Plus, all of which refer young people onto the course.
Helping young people to turn their lives around is a cause that Rosie cares passionately about.
She says: “One of my close family members was in care when he was a young child and I met a young homeless girl when I was in my first job and she made me realise that none of us is very far from being in a similar situation.’’
She trained as a high-end pastry chef at University College Birmingham and then worked for a while in Michelin starred Birmingham restaurant Purnell’s. With this experience, £500 and a desire to make a difference to young people’s lives, she set up Miss Macaroon.
But why macaroons?
“I saw that they were an up and coming trend and I was looking for the right product that was intricate enough to keep me interested but was also simple enough that somebody who had never worked in a kitchen before could come in and create something beautiful - and I just became obsessed with macaroons.’’
The business has a retail outlet in Birmingham’s Western Arcade, which has been open for about two years.
“It is going really well and we’re currently in negotiations to open another one,’’ says Rosie. “My ultimate ambition is to provide as many training opportunities for unemployed young people as possible, to have a nationwide retail presence and to get as many young people into work as possible.’’
The biggest challenge in building the business has been in recruiting like-minded people.
She says: “The challenge has been around recruiting key members who had a commercial understanding but were also passionate about working with young people and training young people and willing to put the effort required into that.’’
But, in the grand scheme of things, that has been a minor hurdle.
“I’ve had no regrets at all, it’s a brilliant job really,’’ she says.
And has it turned out as she expected, when she started off with £500 and a lot of ambition?
She laughs. “No, not at all, I had no idea it would turn out like this. It’s much bigger than I thought it would be, I’ve packed much more in, working with a lot of young people with mental health issues, so the provision is completely different to what we started with.’’
This experience and her success entitles her to pass on some advice to anybody else wanting to start a social enterprise.
“Have a look at what else is out there. There are some great examples of social enterprises and also lots of different support organisations. See what difference you can make, then have a look at what your passions are and, if there’s a gap in the market, go from there.’’
She’s a firm believer in having your cake and eating it.
“You can definitely do both business and charity. The business needs to come first because, without that, you can’t actually fund any of the other stuff, but they can absolutely mix and there’s no reason why not.’’