Social Entrepreneurship refers to engaging in business with the main aim of reaping societal gains as opposed to being driven by profits. Business principles that would drive a profit-making company are applied to solve a problem within the society.
This week, we explore the investment idea of a soup kitchen which if well executed could end up giving birth to a chain of soup kitchens and low-cost restaurants which cater to the low income and the less fortunate in our neighborhoods.
A soup kitchen can be defined as a meal center or food kitchen where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a below market price. For effectiveness, it is best located in publicly accessible facilities in lower-income neighborhoods such as churches, community halls, public school etc.
Why would it work?
- Because you have a passion of helping the less fortunate in the society.
- Because your actions are geared towards solving problems that many have turned a blind eye to or are thinking they are not able to do anything about it.
- Because you have the ability to source the necessary support and resources from the different stake holders involved.
- Because you have a passion for cooking and/or healthy living.
- Because you can make time for it.
- Because you see the value in doing it.
- Because it touches the hearts of people.
How would one go about it?
- For a soup kitchen that is just starting, I would recommend you start small in a location that is convenient to you.
- Identify the populace that you would like to feed. Are they mostly men, single mothers, abandoned children, physically challenged or the elderly of the society. This will determine the general menu you will serve and the ingredients you will use.
- Secure the necessary licenses and approvals e.g. from the local administration and, ministry of health officials.
- Identify volunteers that you would work with
- Set a schedule of how the soup kitchen will be held – weekly, twice a week, monthly, twice a month etc. This will be influenced by the availability of the food and any capital you need to pull this off regularly.
Resources you may need
Corporate sponsors – these come in handy as they provide resources that would otherwise be capital intensive and challenging to acquire. In return, you can offer them branding/ advertising opportunities. The resources include:
- cooking ingredients,
- paper plates, bottled water
- pots and pans for cooking
- Serving plates and spoons – these are best to be the disposable type to avoid theft, breakage and the tedious work of washing the dishes.
- Volunteers – to serve and cook
- Tents, tables and chairs that serve as serving points and eating areas
- Fliers and posters – to create awareness of the program
- Cloak room tickets – for crowd management
- Food carry bags to serve the leftover food to the people to take to their homes or those who could not come.
As the soup kitchen gains popularity in the neighborhood, as a social entrepreneur, you can go ahead and enlist the services of a well-known low cost but quality medical facility.
The clinical officers can be doing diagnosis and health checks for the people and for further tests or consultancy or prescriptions, they are referred to the facility.
The medical support should be free of charge just like the food and conducted by professionals. Understanding the dynamics of running a soup kitchen will equip you to open up a restaurant from which you can now consider making a profit.
Special Note: The author of this article and our business is in no way a professional advisor. The content herein is purely based on personal opinion and experience and it should not be considered professional financial investment advice. You are advised to do your own research and review such an idea with a financial professional.