The community sharing companies connecting Brits during Covid-19

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British community sharing companies

A third of the food we produce globally is thrown away, and UK households are a large part of the problem, being responsible for over half of all food waste across the country. As shoppers across the country continue to panic-by following the outbreak of Covid-19, never has it been more important to reshape our heed-less attitude to a more community-minded one. Independent research firm Beauhurst highlights two British community sharing companies that are keeping the country connected throughout the pandemic.

Olio

Funds raised: £15m
Founded: February 2015
Location: Haringey

One company using digital innovation to encourage more responsible behaviour is Olio, an app that allows people and businesses with excess food to share it with their neighbours and local businesses.

Individuals and businesses can list food (or other unwanted household items) with a photo and description. Following a private message, a person in the local area is able to pick that item up for free. Olio also has 4,500+ trained volunteers that collect and redistribute unwanted food from businesses, free of charge. The company was co-founded by Tessa Clarke (CEO) and Saasha One (COO) in North London in 2015 and has now expanded to more than 45 countries.

Currently, Olio has around 1.8m registered users, with roughly 3.5m portions of food shared as a result, and around 70,000 meals shared per month. The company has partnered with a swathe of food businesses to help them reduce their food waste, including supermarket chains Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, who piloted Olio as an ‘online food bank’ to donate food to.

To date, Olio has secured a total of £15m in fundraisings. Investors include Simpleweb, Accel, Octopus Ventures, SEED Investments, Silvergate Investments, Quadia SA Impact Finance, and Mustard Seed. The company has also received funding from ASOS co-founder Quentin Griffiths, and Easynet COO Wayne Churchill.

Farmdrop

Funds raised: £31.1m
Founded: August 2012
Location: Islington

Whilst Olio helps redistribute food amongst consumers, Farmdrop has developed a website to allow consumers to go straight to the food source and avoid the empty shelves of panic-stricken supermarkets, by ordering and paying for produce directly from farmers. Initially, Farmdrop began its service by delivering produce from local farmers to libraries, community centres and pubs, but now it delivers directly to homes. Unlike the traditional retailers, farmers and fishermen receive a higher percentage of the retail price by using Farmdrop as no middlemen are involved in the supply chain and many of them simply harvest and ship to order, reducing waste and helping the environment. In 2019 the company launched a range of freshly sourced ready meals in sustainable packaging called ‘Made by Farmdrop’ to add to their expanding range of food produce.

The London-based company was launched by ex-city broker Ben Pugh in 2012, but since 2019 has been under the reins of Eleanor Herrin. Pugh ploughed in all his savings and raised £750,000 through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube from 190 backers including ASOS co-founder Quentin Griffiths. Later investors include the founder of Skype Niklass Zennström, Impact Ventures, and Belltown Ventures. In total, Farmdrop has raised more than £31.1m to support its efforts.

Following the current crisis, Farmdrop is doing everything it can to support the teetering food chain. Like so many other food retailers, the company has introduced a queuing system to their online delivery system to meet the high demand for food.

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