Stuart is a graduate of the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2014.
Here’s his story:
“We set up Wild Thyme because we wanted to create a new worker co-operative run social enterprise in Portsmouth, and a place where people could buy tasty, nutritious food.
Our tagline is ‘the widest range of natural and organic food in Portsmouth’ – and from early May 2015 that’s what we’ll be providing. Wild Thyme will be a wholefood shop with a take away and juice bar plus on-site kitchen and packing operation.
We’ve spent the last two years writing a business plan, raising loans & grants and finding premises – and at each step of the way, the next step seemed almost impossible. We couldn’t get the loan without having the grant, and vice versa – and neither was possible without signing a lease (which needed the grant and the loan already in place to be viable!). But somehow we brought it all together, and put in planning applications, dealt with Building Control, the Environmental Health and all the other agencies that needed satisfying.
Now we’re nearly ready to open, and the next seemingly impossible step will be to generate a turnover of £500,000 by the end of the second year. But we know that there’s a big unmet demand in Portsmouth for what we’re doing – we’ve already got 850 people following our Facebook page.
We want to create much more than just a shop – we want to showcase an alternative way of working, where the workers have full, equal control of the business (which can’t be sold for profit). And we want to provide food that is good for people, and the planet.
So much food now is made simply to make a profit – highly processed, and with high levels of fat, sugar and refined flour. 25% of 5 year olds in Portsmouth are now classified as obese, and 60% of adults as overweight or obese – and food manufacturers and retailers bear much of the responsibility for this. We intend to be part of the change we want to see."