Another success story is ethical supermarket hiSbe. The enterprise received a £5,000 grant to spend on consulting, a £10,000 interest-free loan and mentoring by L&G on financial issues.
SE-Assist was the first financial backing hiSbe secured, giving the business investment credibility and personal validation for founder sisters Ruth and Amy Anslow. The £5,000 consultation grant was spent on research on a fresh produce consultant who specialises in linking small-scale producers to retailers.
Amy said: “Our successful application to SE-Assist was our very first step to getting the store opened, and everything snowballed from there on. We’re hugely grateful that we were able to kickstart hiSbe into being with such a supportive team behind us at SE-Assist. We firmly believe that social enterprises are the future of business, so we’re thrilled that SE-Assist will continue to do good work in 2014.”
Following the successful SE-Assist application Ruth and Amy launched a successful crowd-funding campaign. hiSbe opened its doors on December 7 on Small Business Saturday. It has recorded 2,000 transactions per week and started to break-even in January.In February, 59p in every pound hiSbe took went to suppliers, 27p was spent on staff wages and the rest went into paying the bills to run the shop.
In contrast it is estimated that UK farmers normally receive only 9p of every £1 spent on food by consumers. For 50p spent on a pint of milk at hiSbe 41p goes to the local dairy farmer. British dairy farmers are often forced to sell their milk at below the cost of production.