Social Entrepreneur Index nominee: Maymessy CIC
Turning a disused cowshed into a cookery school where learners can experience food from plot to plate, Anna Richards tells us about her social enterprise, Maymessy CIC.
What does your social enterprise do?
Maymessy empowers disadvantaged groups to boost their health and wellbeing through a cookery school and wellness activities.
What made you start your business up?
I have been a primary school teacher and special needs teacher and quickly realised that pen and paper and formal education does not fit all.
How do you measure your impact?
Through questionnaires, feedback, testimonials from stakeholders, videos and photos.
What help did you have to start your social enterprise?
I went on a free supportive course run by OXlep at Oxford Brooks to help me start up a social enterprise and went on a crowdfunding campaign backed by Crowdfunder and Santander.
How did you decide on what legal form would work best for your business?
Having been on a course, I was worried about the bureaucracy of setting up a charity. I like the idea of a business with an ethical purpose and a CIC seemed a perfect fit for me.
What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur?
I like to run the business and have strategic control while my main aim is to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged groups in Oxfordshire.
What have been the three biggest challenges that you have overcome (or that you’re still working on)?
Getting enough finance to make Maymessy financially sustainable.
Finding skilled labour and volunteers.
Transport to the venue.
What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Go for it. It is exciting and challenging.
Why do you think social enterprise is important?
I think it is important to have an ethical vision at the heart of all businesses.
What’s been your most rewarding experience as a social entrepreneur?
Seeing the young people and disadvantaged groups leaving with more confidence and greater self-esteem.
What information sources would you recommend (books, websites, organisations?) to help someone just starting their social enterprise journey?
Talk to OBS and Oxlep if you are in Oxfordshire or other county business organisations who may give you free support and contacts.
What’s been the most surprising thing about creating a social enterprise?
The amount of kindness and support in the local community. I have come from London and did not know anyone and so I have been overwhelmed by local help.
What are your plans for the next two to five years?
to reach out to more charities and groups so I can hold more cookery and wellbeing classes
to provide some training for students to get into work
to increase use of our shared veg patch and build a biodiversity area with more trees and an orchard which will be used for people not in employment, education or training (NEETS) and volunteers
to create a nature walk to have more wellbeing classes - for example, talks on menopause
What is the biggest change you would like to see in the world?
To reduce poverty in UK and world so no-one goes hungry.
What have been your three proudest moments as a social entrepreneur?
Building the barn from a disused cowshed and finishing it just in time for launch.
Having my first cookery class for young carers.
Providing a venue for 96 refugee families last summer.
What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?
Go for it – if we all do our bit, the world would be a happier place.
Visit Maymessy CIC's website for more information.