By Daniel Hunter
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is backing an innovative new programme to support London’s small food businesses, helping to create more jobs in this vibrant sector and regenerate the capital’s high streets.
London’s food sector is worth a massive £17bn with small and medium food businesses providing the majority of the industry's 300,000 jobs. The capital has also seen a resurgence of interest in smaller, local food producers and retailers working with a strong community ethos.
The new six-month pilot, developed by the Mayor’s food advisor, Rosie Boycott, is seeking to help small social enterprises expand into larger profitable businesses, creating jobs and adding to the diversity of the capital's food sector. The aim is to develop 'best practice' and explore funding models for the independent food sector to help more businesses of this type prosper.
The pilot will be delivered in partnership with leading charitable organisation the Plunkett Foundation, working with the well-established food network London Food Link. The Plunkett Foundation will work with four small food businesses to help them expand with each working towards providing 10 or more people with jobs, training or apprenticeship opportunities over this period.
The businesses will be offered expert advice with the option of low-cost finance from Triodos Bank, a bank that is committed to working with ethical enterprises that promote social, cultural and environmental change. The results of the trial will be used to design future phases of the Greater London Authority project with the aim of growing the number of London’s community-run food businesses. The pilot aims to demonstrate that innovative food businesses can be profitable, while also striving to regenerate high streets and improving access to healthy, affordable, locally produced food.
"From urban farms to bustling street markets, London’s food scene is one of the most diverse and exciting in the world," The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said.
"I am pleased to support Rosie's initiative seeking to fuse Londoners' passion for food with their entrepreneurial spirit to show that it’s possible to cook up an idea that doesn’t just result in something tasty to eat, but that gets people into our town centres, into employment and delivers wider community benefits to boot."
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