Freedom Bakery is a social enterprise based at HMP Low Moss close to Glasgow where they teach prisoners artisan bakery. This offer up a twofold win: prisoners have a higher chance of employment post-release (graduates attain a SVQ 2 in craft bakery) and it helps them to view themselves as confident, valuable members of society.
It also saves money. According to Freedom Bakery, sustainable employment has been proven to reduce reoffending rates dramatically. This has big savings for society – for every person with a conviction who can stay in employment, Scottish tax payers save £940,000! Despite this, Freedom Bakery receives no public funding and instead run as a self-sustaining business.
Matt, the project owner, told us: “We have been operating for 9 months now with a small base of loyal wholesale customers. Now we need to expand to meet demand and to provide further opportunities for the people we were set up to help.”
The big idea
Raise money to establish a second bakery – reducing reoffending by baking delicious artisan products.
First up Matt explained that they raised some money through “a loan which was eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) that allows people to invest in social enterprises with a tax rebate from the government. We also raised money through various charitable organisations with grants to fund our training and mentoring activities for our apprentices.”
So what inspired them to Crowdfund? Matt explained: “When you’re ‘inside’ it’s hard to tell the story of what you are trying to achieve! We wanted the public to see what we have been doing, and where we’re going. And we did get noticed. We had stories in 5 national newspapers, a radio programme and some TV broadcast too. We also saw interest from new potential customers coming to the surface. We wanted to create our initial fundraising target through a Crowdfunder campaign, and use this to present a case for strong public interest to help us raise the further investment needed.”
The project was a huge success and raised a total of £16,595 (beating their £15K target) in just 28 days from 269 backers.
The pledge rewards
Rewards ranged from £5 – £1000 and reflected the nature of the project beautifully, from pastries and loaves to baking classes and recipe cards. For each pledge, they also offered a “rewardless” option, for those who simply wanted to donate. This proved very popular, with 2 backers even choosing the £1,000 rewardless pledge.
In the press
Freedom Bakery benefited from a lot of press coverage. National newspaper such as The Times and The Guardian wrote about the social enterprise aspect of the project. There was also interest locally as well, with The Daily Record, The National, Evening Times, stv Glasgow and Third Force News covering the story. The niche magazine, True Loaf, also interview Matt about the project.
We asked fellow project owner Immy what’s next for the Freedom Bakery? She told us: “A big sigh of relief and a party for the team! We’re going to use this initial funding to help raise the further investment we need to open our next bakery in Glasgow!”
Tips to project owners
With such a successful raise, we had to get their top tips for other project owners. Immy shared her top three bits of advice with us:
1. View it as a full time job
“It is hard work – and can take its toll emotionally, especially if you worry you won’t make it! It should always be thought of as business as usual.”
2. Always be shouting about it
“You have to try to constantly publicise it as well. I’m sure everyone got sick of us on social media but you have to try to reach as many people as possible. If we were to do another I think we would plan more events, like a tasting for example, to take place half way through the Crowdfunder as we experienced a huge lull in pledges around this time, which I understand to be quite common, but for us issued panic! Keep calm and persevere!”
3. Don’t forget your backers
“I think keeping up strong communications with the people who have already pledged is really important because it is fair to say that once people have pledged they will probably put your project out of their mind, but this way it stays fresh meaning they are more likely to talk to their friends about it, and perhaps recommend that they pledge too.”
- Take a look at the Freedom Bakery project page to find out more.