Freedom Bakery is an innovative social enterprise that gives training and employment to people at HMP Low Moss, Scotland’s largest prison by teaching them how to be artisan bakers. Following in the footsteps of San Patrignano Bakery in Italy and Luminary Bakery in London, Freedom bakery was created by Matt Fountain, and is supported by his team comprised of bread masters Scott and Lee, 6 apprentices, one apprentice on community placement and three behind the scenes interns.
Established in April 2015, Freedom Bakery is a different kind of social enterprise called a Community Interest Company (CIC). In other words, a company with a social conscience or a kind of commercial social enterprise. This means that while remaining a social enterprise with the values of social good it implies, Freedom Bakery is first and foremost a company that aims to remain competitive on the bread front. The marketing of the bakery revolves around the products they make, mostly delicious breads and pastries, and the bakery reinvests 65% of its profits back into the company while the 35% remaining are paid to shareholders. This is what makes the company different: a social enterprise normally reinvests all of their profits back into the community. This strategy and business plan have proven successful, enabling the company to be self-sustaining, sustainable, competitive and making it attractive to other stakeholders and businesses.
An Innovative Social Enterprise
Being a successful social enterprise with a focus on commerce does not mean that the social goals are overshadowed by the financial and economic incentives of the company, on the contrary. Learning the craft of bread making presents an incredible asset for the trainees post-release by giving them a wide range of skills “commitment, discipline, respect for themselves and for others” that will help them find further employment in the baking industry but also beyond.
Matt Fountain and his teams work clearly show their passion and their convictions but also demonstrates that giving a chance to people who are marginalised pays off in every aspect. Reducing re-offending through employment opportunities benefits the tax payer (£940,000 of associated criminal justice costs per individual), the company, and of course the individual himself. It makes the trainees much more employable by putting them in a workplace environment similar to one that they could encounter outside of prison. It has also been proven that giving inmates training and helping them find employment stops them from re-offending. Being an innovative social enterprise with an emphasis on commerce is therefore not only profitable for the company itself but also for the inmates.
The bakery overall helps inmates maintain a sense of dignity, teaches them valuable skills and challenges the ways they are seen, confirming that they can definitely help and give back to society positively. More recently, things have been looking bright for the bakery which recently won Social Enterprise of the Year in the East Dunbartonshire Business awards in May and is about to open their very own café. This is incredible news, not only for any bread/food lover but also because it means that the bakery will be able to employ their own trainees on the outside through their own café.
You can find their tasty products here:
- Cafe G R O
- The Wild Olive Tree
- The Scullery
- Roots Fruits and Flowers
- For FIKA Sake
- Harvest Co-op
- Milk Cafe Glasgow
- Locavore Shop & Deli