Chris Nemeth is president of Hopeful Harvest and senior director of social enterprise at Forgotten Harvest. Forgotten Harvest is a non-profit organization which is making sure rescued fresh food is delivered to those who are in need. Housed in Detroit, Forgotten Harvest made the decision to magnify into a social enterprise about three years ago. This year, Forgotten Harvest will save and offer 42 million pounds of fresh food to 283 partner agencies by delivering it to them.
Nemeth shares the biggest challenge the business has had, along with the ways in which the business overcame the challenge and the results.
What has been the biggest challenges you have had in your non-profit business?
Detroit and its people are working to re-establish the area, and food has quickly become one of the cornerstones of its rebirth. Many small food entrepreneurs have emerged. Local and state governments, along with public and private businesses and organizations, have created an environment to support these entrepreneurs. Numerous small food manufacturers started their food businesses in community kitchens, homes, churches and restaurants. The available space was filled up fast, and the need for more space and services became apparent.
After identifying the need and prospect in the market, Forgotten Harvest started a social enterprise committed to supporting local food entrepreneurs. At the start, we were intending on offering food processing facilities and storage for refrigerated, frozen and dry foods. The response we received was amazing; so big that we decided to re-write our business plan four times over the first nine months.
We saw the possibility to swiftly become a housing facility, be a co-packer and also a commercial kitchen. However, the likelihood of this growth also meant there would be multiple challenges to work through and important decisions that would need to be made.
What have you implemented to overcome the challenge?
We went through a process of a detailed financial analysis, completed an additional business plan, discussed our plans and ideas with local organizations, advisers and possible partners, and after much talk and offering each other ideas and suggestions, we went ahead with our mission.
What are the results after you implemented your solution?
Hopeful Harvest became a C Corp social enterprise. We announced our officers, got our board in place and quickly became a team of ten. We collaborated and partnered with businesses and organizations all over the Metro Detroit-area and broadened our client base to over thirty clients using a number of services in less than one and a half years.
This piece is part two of a two-part series exploring how one business owner successfully started a small business in the food industry.
This article was written by Michelle Guilbeau for Small Business Pulse