Sharing secrets of success with Josh Littlejohn

Josh Littlejohn and Leonard DiCaprio at Home, the new Social Bite venture with Maison Bleu

Social Bite is a “Social Business”, meaning that no matter how big it grows, no individual will ever get rich from the business. Josh Littlejohn

Josh Littlejohn of the social business Social Bite is pretty busy these days.  So we are really delighted he is finding time to give the keynote speech at The Gathering on Saturday 3 December.

Organised by Side by Side, The Gathering has a bold claim to being a radical new community project aiming to inspire new ventures by sharing and celebrating local success.

Not half as bold as Josh Littlejohn. Two days after standing on the platform at our Norton Park event in Easter Road he will be attending the fifth annual Scottish Business Awards ceremony which he founded in 2012. He does a good line in special guests.  Last year George Clooney was the guest of honour lunching with homeless people and then dining with Scotland’s business elite. This year’s keynote speaker is Leonard DiCaprio who lunched at Home a new partnership between Social Bite and Maison Bleue where customers can pay meals forward for the homeless.

The biggest thing in my life is that I’ve got a job: Ian Brown, homeless for 14 years, now working for Social Bite

Connecting these two worlds – the glamorous black tie dinner and the sandwich bar employing homeless people – is the zeal of a 29-year-old entrepreneur who passionately believes business can be used as a force for good.

Rethinking the future of capitalism

Social business is a concept made famous by the philanthropist Muhammad Yunus Nobel Peace Prize Winner, founder of Grameen Bank and pioneer of microcredit. The Grameen Bank lends to poor people (especially women) so they can lift their families out of poverty. And it works.

Josh (by many interview accounts a rebellious son of a millionaire) says his life was changed by reading Yunus’s book Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism.

Josh Littlejohn outside red garden cabin announcing new project for Social Bite
Josh Littlejohn announces new project for Social Bite

After meeting Yunus in Bangladesh in 2011, Josh and his partner Alice Thomson came home to Edinburgh to found Social Bite. Their mission: to ensure no-one gets rich from a business which gives away 100% of profits to good causes, ensures 25% of the jobs go to people with a background of homelessness – and feeds homeless people every day with meals pre-paid by customers.

What we’ve worked really hard to demonstrate with Social Bite is that if you can create a business format to tackle some of the most pressing social challenges that we face it carries an immense power. It has the power to include the excluded and the marginalized and we can harness all that is good about business and direct it towards changing the world

At The Gathering in Norton Park, then, Josh will set the tone and raise horizons. Expect a stimulating start to an event which aims to inspire creative and collaborative community enterprise by celebrating the very real success and achievements of many local groups and organisations.

Wall of success

Often, as we discovered at our two previous events, these successes are not widely known. So we’re also delighted to have a panel of experts who can give insight into secrets of success across a wide range of social projects. Four speakers will address key issues of concern identified by the two earlier Open Space and community discussion events: housing, care of young and elderly and the environment.

The panel includes Sarah Beattie-Smith of Shrub Swap and Reuse Hub, Keith Anderson of Port of Leith Housing Association, Theresa Alison of North Edinburgh Childcare, and Janine Matheson of Creative Edinburgh.

And then it’s over to the people in the room to explore how local communities might work collaboratively to improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods. There will be plenty of inspiration in the experience and achievements of people in every workshop. Not least on the Wall of Success displaying stories of local projects working creatively with people of all ages and interests.

To prove the point, a delicious lunch will be provided by the very enterprising Sikh women’s community cafe Punjabi Junction while singer-songwriter Selah Corbin provides music.

More about all this in the next blogpost. Meanwhile be sure to book your tickets. Free from Eventbrite click HERE And enjoy more about Social Bite in their video.


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