“4Lunch is a social enterprise working with communities in Greater Manchester,delivering cookery courses, catering and food business training.”
How Amy Win, economics student turned social entrepreneur, is breaking the mould using food as a way to improve lives and build communities.
We are excited to bring you the third instalment of Amy Win’s incredible social enterprise story. We think that her innovative way of thinking is so refreshing!
At the time of this interview, Amy had worked with more than 400 people in a variety of programmes in a number of different sectors, including housing trusts, corporate businesses, universities, charities and other social enterprises across the area. It is most common for a social enterprise to focus its attention on one specific section of society, for example, the homeless, or people with disabilities. Finding a ‘niche’ is the most expected way to conduct an organisation like this. However, 4 Lunch works with people from many sections of society; young mums, refugees, the homeless, and lots more.
“If you have had problems in your life, and want to learn and succeed, we will work with your situation, no questions asked”, Amy says. “Wherever I see a spark, I am ready to get going. I’m not at all precious about my resources, and the work I do. It’s there to be used by anyone who wants to take inspiration from it. I want people to learn, so I am very open with what I create. Today, I had a phone call from a mental health charity, asking if I could hold a pop-up cafe once a month. I immediately said yes. Once it starts making good money, I am happy to hand it over to them to run themselves. I’ll train their staff how to run it smoothly, and it’s all yours! This approach is not common in business, but this is part of the way I am…
...I feel very weak and little when I see all the big macho guys in the catering industry. It all looks like big money, big business, and I wonder sometimes, should I be like that? Do I need to be that tough and ruthless? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a shy little lamb either! I am quite an assertive person, but I just don’t see why I should mould myself to the stereotypes of the industry. I understand that you do need to be professional, but I just would like everyone to be allowed to be themselves more in the workplace, and not have to act a certain way”.
I’ve been to Thailand for a month, India...I have just come back from three months in Germany, and am planning to go to Mexico next year. I love not being too held down by my work. In the long term, I’m happy to go with the flow, and see what direction any new opportunities will take me. And there is plenty of time, and no rush at all! I can always open the cafe in a couple of years.
“It really is very important to not compare yourself to anyone else. You look at some people’s lives and business journeys and thing, how did they get there so fast? But it never is as glamorous and easy as it may seem. There’s always so much toil and struggle behind it. I’m giving you the highlights right now, but oh my goodness, there are days when I feel like I am paralysed, and can do nothing. When I’m like this, I will stay inside, wearing my PJs. At the beginning, I was in bits because of all the self doubt.
I had thoughts along the lines of “I’m unemployed, nobody wants to hire me, etc”. Often, seeing other people do a 9-5 job while I lounged around at home made me feel like an absolute bum! The best way to get through this is to just recognise that it is your mind working overtime, and trust yourself that you haven’t really given up. Just take a rest, get yourself back into focus, and you will get back on your feet again. Writing is something I love to do when relaxing. It helps me reflect on where I have been and where I want to be in the future. It is so easy to think that working five days a week with a weekend free is the only normal way to live. But as an entrepreneur, you set your own rules, and this is truly amazing!”
What motivates Amy is the fact that she is breaking down barriers between people and their goals, whether that is in business, or employability. 4 Lunch makes knowledge accessible where it previously wasn’t, and this makes it so tremendously empowering to people who may have previously seemed out of reach, both to themselves, and the rest of society. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that business is only for those who are privileged and have access to the best forms of education, money and resources, but 4 Lunch takes the approach of breaking it down and making things work anyway.
For example, someone may not have access to a laptop or the internet, but, the way Amy sees it, with her can-do attitude, there is always a way around logistical problems like this, as long as people are eager enough, and want to learn. She does this by bringing people together and pooling resources in a very community focused way.
4Lunch is a social enterprise working with communities in Greater Manchester, delivering cookery courses, catering and food business training.