Written by Lauren Smith - 8th March 2022
Celebrating Female-Owned Social Ventures For International Women’s Day
On the 8th of March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, a day designed to recognise women’s achievements and promote diversity, inclusivity, and equality. The theme this year is #BreakTheBias – exploring how we can break the bias and level the playing field within our communities, workplaces, schools, and colleges. We work with so many inspiring female-run social ventures and each one is dedicated to helping a social or environmental cause – from equal education and employment opportunities to fighting food waste or supporting their local community. In this blog post, we take a look at the stories behind these social ventures and the inspiring female founders who are paving the way for us all.
Based in Northern Ireland, Refuge Chocolate makes luxurious, ethically-sourced chocolate products from the finest Belgian chocolate. Founded by Tara Mullan in 2017, this amazing social enterprise exists to help give people a brighter future through their support of Flourish NI – an anti-human trafficking organisation that Tara volunteers for. This charity aims to provide long-term, tailored support to survivors of human trafficking and help them to overcome their trauma and rebuild their lives.
After testing a few project ideas to raise funds for the organisation, the words Refuge and hot chocolate landed in Tara’s head one day and she soon began testing recipes. Once perfected she then when on to sell the hot chocolate around the UK, donating proceeds from every sale to the Flourish NI organisation. Refuge has since expanded its range to include brownie kits, chocolate spread, marshmallows, and chocolate coffee – to name but a few!
It was at university that Leiho founders, Joey Li and Thuta Khin, realised they both had a passion for building something with purpose. They decided to start Leiho to encourage people to do more good in their everyday lives and to provide basic essentials to those who need it most. Access to essentials, such as clean socks and underwear, toiletries or a hot meal can make a huge difference to someone’s day and have a real impact on their self-worth and well-being.
Leiho research the basic essentials that are needed during different times of the year and match every purchase of their eco-conscious products with another essential item that is then donated to those in need. They collaborate with smaller charities and projects who help to distribute the essential items and who also work closely with families and individuals experiencing homelessness, to ensure they have the basic human comforts of warmth, health and hygiene.
ARTHOUSE Unlimited is a charity presenting the artistic talents of adults living with complex neuro-diverse and physical support needs. Founded by freelance artist, Becky Sheraidah, the charity strives to challenge perceptions and encourage acceptance and inclusivity to people living with neurodivergence and physical adversities.
All the artwork you see featured on their products starts its life in the Arthouse studio with sessions being held twice a day, every week day and led by professional artists. As well as having over 200 stockists around the UK, the charity has its own high street shop that shares its space with the studio. This means customers are able to enjoy seeing the artwork being created and in turn, the artists are able to enjoy seeing their artwork being sold. 100% of the sales revenue from their products and original artworks sustains the charity, enabling it to grow and evolve.
Growing up on a farm in Scotland, Rubies in the Rubble founder, Jenny Costa, learnt to be resourceful and creative with food. She became concerned with food waste after reading about the problem, and was shocked by the amount of produce being thrown away, simply for being a little wonky or imperfect. She began rescuing produce from New Covent Garden market in London and experimenting with old family recipes for jams and chutneys. In 2012, she decided to take grow it on a larger scale and founded Rubies in Rubble. Fast-forward 10 years and Rubies in the Rubble is one of pioneering voices in food sustainability and their award-winning condiments, ketchups and relishes are now stocked in supermarkets nationwide.
Founded by Joyce Murray, Grace Chocolates sells high-quality chocolates that are handmade by women with convictions who are choosing to make positive changes in their lives. In 2013, Joyce began volunteering at the family hub centre at Cornton Vale HMP and YOI and was inspired to start her social enterprise after hearing the first-hand stories and experiences of the women and families who had been touched by the criminal justice system.
100% of the profits from the sales of their chocolates goes back into supporting the women through the Making Positive Changes programme, which is open to any woman who has touched the Scottish justice system. The main aim of the programme is to help these women secure sustainable and meaningful employment, but it’s also about developing new skills, building self-confidence, and working on their personal development. In 2021, they supported 36 women, hosted 9 wellbeing workshops, created 13 work placements with an additional 28 industry-recognised qualifications that will enrich the women’s CVs and help lower barriers to employment.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post celebrating the female founders of our social venture partners. If you’d like to know about the brands we stock at Social Stories Club, check out this page for a full list and each brands story and impact.