Grace plans ethical snacks social enterprise as it delivers jobs

Grace plans ethical snacks social enterprise as it delivers jobs

October 19, 2022

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Founded in Nottingham by former teacher Matt Parfitt in 2017, Grace’s award-winning Radiant Cleaners has grown to a team of 30 plus providing services to large corporates and organisations.

This year it was joined by Jubilee Events, a marquee hire and hospitality operation with a core of six staff.

The outlook is positive for both with Radiant’s turnover expected to hit £350,000 in 2023 and Jubilee’s £75,000. All profits from the two certified social enterprises are either reinvested or passed to parent Grace, a charity.

“Times are changing and charities can’t rely on the traditional model. We are all on more dicey ground now so we aim to combine the best of both worlds – the heart and work of a charity with the entrepreneurial wealth creation of a business,” declares Parfitt.

“We aim to be a sustainable next step on from handouts, giving people on the margins opportunity and the dignity work brings.

“We have chosen to be disruptors in sectors blighted by poor working conditions and low pay. We employ those who have struggled hardest to find work: ex-offenders, ex-addicts, victims of abuse, refugees and the homeless.

“We pay them more through the real Living Wage based on the cost of living – no matter what the cost we will absorb that and keep to that promise.

“Then we support them holistically so they can flourish – for instance coaching, English lessons or debt advice. The business is a vehicle for being a good employer and demonstrating compassion for people – from that comes transformation. We sum it up as time, talent, treasure.”

Chronic unreliability born of the turmoil they have experienced is a common trait among those Grace brings into the fold. “We keep going with them, it’s hard but then we see people come through and the difference it makes,” adds Parfitt.

One former Radiant cleaner was a modern slavery victim, trafficked from Eastern Europe, who was paid nothing for nine years. Working for Grace helped restore his trust so he was able to face the world again and earn a living.

As both a business and a charity more doors are open, Parfitt finds. Companies, their investors and customers generally are looking for more social purpose now, he explains.

“Corporates like our demonstrable social impact and value, it also benefits their credibility which is why they choose Radiant. We offer them a terrific, reliable and safe service.

“They are becoming customers of Jubilee too, along with universities and couples looking to have an ethical wedding celebration.

“Jubilee doesn’t use single-use items, the marquee’s flooring is recycled plastic, food is supplied locally and we are looking to do that with flowers. They want to know those doing the work to make their perfect occasion are treated fairly.

“Having proved our model for cleaning and events this has made us think more about franchising.”

Investment first came from social action church funding – Grace has rock strong Christian connections – along with a £60,000 grant to buy the marquee equipment and a £40,000 interest-free loan for Radiant.

Seed funding to create something self-sustaining has the biggest appeal for philanthropists and some £50,000 will be needed for Grace’s ethical snacks venture now in development which involves collaborating with a national partner and has plenty of scale-up potential.

A UK Social Enterprise Awards winner last year Radiant has now been short-listed again and will hear if it has been successful on December 8. 

“That accolade raised our profile with larger companies who now work with us,” says Parfitt, whose wife, a former GP, coordinates Grace’s support. “We show we are all in,” he declares.

“No matter how difficult things are, we can make it happen.”

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