The new six-month pilot, developed by the Mayor’s food advisor Rosie Boycott, will help small social enterprises expand into larger, more profitable businesses. It will be delivered in partnership with the Plunkett Foundation, which gives advice for community co-operatives and social enterprises.
"From urban farms to bustling street markets, London’s food scene is one of the most diverse and exciting in the world,” said Johnson. “I am pleased to support Rosie's initiative seeking to fuse Londoners' passion for food with their entrepreneurial spirit to show that it’s possible to cook up an idea that doesn’t just result in something tasty to eat, but that gets people into our town centres, into employment and delivers wider community benefits to boot."
The Plunkett Foundation will work with four small food businesses to help them expand, with each working towards providing 10 or more people with jobs, training or apprenticeship opportunities.
The businesses will be offered expert advice with the option of low-cost finance from Triodos Bank - a bank that is committed to working with ethical enterprises that promote social, cultural and environmental change.
The results of the trial will then be used to design future phases of the Greater London Authority project, with the overall aim of growing the number of London’s community-run food businesses.
The Mayor’s food advisor Boycott added: “The capital’s food sector is a vital and vibrant part of London life. Increasingly people are seeing it as a great way to convert a personal passion into a thriving businesses, not just to make money, but to improve their communities as well.
“We want to show that these enterprises can deliver economic and social benefits. The organisations we’ve selected are already doing some amazing work bringing great food to Londoners and this pilot will give them the support they need to expand their operations and take what they do to the next level."
The organisations taking part in the pilot are:
- KERB – a street food organisation based in King’s Cross. Taking part in the trial will enable KERB to launch a new Saturday market (KERB Saturdays) to reach new customers.
- Unpackaged – a community café, food hub and high street shop in Hackney providing organic food and other products in reusable containers. Support from the pilot will help Unpackaged reach out into their local community and local groups for disadvantaged people.
- Field to Fork Organics Co-operative – a community-run fruit and veg box scheme run on the successful ‘Growing Communities’ model.
- Cultivate London – A horticultural social enterprise which operates a number of innovative urban farms based across formerly disused sites in West London.
London’s food sector is worth £17bn, with small and medium food businesses providing the majority of the industry's 300,000 jobs. This project has been launched as part of the implementation of the Mayor’s ‘London Food Strategy’ to show how food businesses that are engaging their local community into their operations can be a powerful generator of jobs, skill development and economic growth in the capital.