Social Enterprise Cafe That Gives a Fork – Jarrod Briffa

Meet Jarrod Briffa. Co-founder of Kinfolk Café, a social enterprise café that ‘gives a fork’. This is his entrepreneurial story.

What motivated you to open a social enterprise café?

We were really inspired to help people contribute to social issues through something they do every day – like purchasing a coffee. In the beginning, a lot of our customers at Kinfolk Café didn’t know that we were a social enterprise – and we loved that! It meant that our business had merit for what we were doing as a café and that we had a chance of becoming self-sufficient. If we could achieve that, then we would be a really strong example that business can be used to address some of our society’s biggest social issues – and hopefully this would inspire others.

How did you get your business started?

We started by sharing the vision for what we hoped to create with Kinfolk Café – and being honest about the fact that, although we were prepared to work incredibly hard, we didn’t have much in terms of assets or knowledge, and this was something we could only achieve as a community. In those days, we had some strong intentions, but we were pretty naive and unclear about how to get there. We created an inclusive culture and the community provided many of the solutions, labour, skills and donations to allow us to build and start our cafe. It was our role to manage and curate the generosity of our community. Through this support, we were able to get the café off the ground for less than $10,000. It’s been a challenging journey with mini expansions along the way but now Kinfolk has grown into a self-sufficient business, something quite rare in the social enterprise space. Last year in FY15, Kinfolk generated 99 per cent of our revenue through trade and was able to donate $56,000 to our charity partners. Our self-sufficient model has given us the confidence to expand and we recently moved into the events industry by bringing Donkey Wheel House Events into the Kinfolk family. This formalises a close relationship we have enjoyed over the last few years and means we can now offer event customers a full suite of event services. It means that everything spent by corporates and the community on catering and hosting an event will also contribute to supporting Kinfolk’s charities and the volunteer program.

What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?

Always make time for yourself – finding time to find your calm and gain perspective are crucial when leading a team. The people within your team are the most crucial factor in the success of your organisation and it is important that you understand their aspirations, skills and personalities if you are to succeed together. If you can create a good culture with a passionate team the answers will never be far away.

How important for you has it been to have a mentor?

I have had and continue to have several inspiring mentors – many of whom sit on our Kinfolk Café Board of Directors now. The support and guidance of these mentors have been the single biggest factor in helping Kinfolk to mature to the type of organisation we have evolved into over the last 18 months. Kinfolk is now at a point that it has very strong governance, and we are ready for the next phase of growth. Personally, I have learnt more, and been capable of achieving more, through the support of my mentors than I could ever have dreamed of before working with them.

What are your top 3 tips for starting a business?

  1. Lead with your vision.
  2. Understand your customer and ensure your business model addresses their needs before promoting its higher purpose.
  3. Bring people on board who believe in your vision and can adapt quickly to change. All of these really helped me with Kinfolk Café.

Jarrod Briffa is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Business, Entrepreneurship (2010) who is willing to answer your questions about starting a new social enterprise business. Find him in the Members section.

Looking for a space for your next meeting, event or business collaboration? Check out Donkey Wheelhouse, part of Kinfolk Café, and another of Jarrod Briffa’s social enterprise initiatives.

Reached the bottom and still want more? Check out our other newsworthy articles on the blog. Better yet, get your hands dirty at one of our awesome face to face events.