What is a social enterprise?
Social enterprises can be defined as businesses or organisations that are helping to benefit the rest of the economy and society. They still make a profit like normal businesses, but they use some of these profits to donate or reinvest into something that helps social change.
This could be anything from supporting local projects, creating employment opportunities, or helping the environment.
They also exist in every aspect of society, and Social Enterprise UK believes that businesses become social enterprises when they cover a few things. Examples of these include businesses having a social or environmental mission that is clear to consumers, and a lot of profits/ surpluses are reinvested or donated to their social purpose.
The story of HumaniTea
HumaniTea was created by Tina Chen after she gained her masters from Imperial College London. She is a Taiwanese- American woman who moved to London and started her beverage business, which created the UK’s first chilled ready-to-drink vegan tea lattes bottled into recyclable cans. The main goal was to create a delicious plant-based drink that is good for humanity.
The two flavours of the vegan lattes are Earl Grey Oat Milk Classic Tea Latte, and Matcha Oat Milk Green Tea Latte. They are brewed with actual tea leaves, oat milk, and ethically sourced natural ingredients that are low in sugar.
Ethical sourcing and sustainability are at the heart of HumaniTea, so that is why oat milk is used in their lattes. It is one of the most eco-friendly milks in both emissions and water usage, and it is perfect for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.
One in six people in the UK suffer from mental health issues due to stress from work. HumaniTea encourages people to take tea breaks throughout the day and night to find mindfulness. Spreading ‘Me Time, Tea Time, Any Time’ is HumaniTea’s motto, and just a five-minute tea break can really help!
How are we a social enterprise?
HumaniTea commits to producing low sugar drinks, using preservative-free, ethically sourced ingredients, utilising eco-friendly, recyclable packaging, and donating 5% or more of post-tax profit to wellbeing and sustainability initiatives in their areas of operation.
They create an impact on many levels: tackling obesity with low sugar, plant-based drinks; promoting mental wellbeing by encouraging everyone to take a tea break; and working to improve the environment through a commitment to recyclable packaging materials and quality ingredients.
Tina wants to reach as many people as possible and generate profit and sales to flourish as a social enterprise. HumaniTea aims to positively impact even more communities through supporting wellbeing and sustainability initiatives, and expanding areas of operation.
Founder Tina Chen: what makes a business?
Tina explains how networking and being part of a community can benefit a social enterprise: ”I have built up a strong community and raised awareness of the importance of sustainability in the food/drink industry and maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.
“I’m able to effectively utilise my network to grow the business as well as to help others get connected with each other and form meaningful connections. I also enjoy giving back to my community by sharing my startup journey with students and budding entrepreneurs.”
Tina believes it is useful to talk through business challenges with industry experts. She also builds friendly networks of fellow food and drink entrepreneurs, and they actively support each other.
“I believe passion is key to running a successful business. Without passion, then work becomes meaningless and loses value. If money or fame is the sole reason for starting a business, then burnout rates can be high.
“My passion is to bring the drink that’s good for humanity to the world!”
Another social enterprise: Oatsu
Earlier today, Megan from HumaniTea and Lauren from Oatsu hosted a joint Instagram live, sharing how both businesses’ experiences of lockdown, and how they prioritise sustainability day-to-day. You can watch it here.
Oatsu help busy people get the most out of their mornings with their plant-based, gut-friendly overnight oats.
Over the past year and a half, Lauren has hand-made more than 3,500 jars of overnight oats for over 600 customers who’ve ordered them from her online store.
Lauren packages her overnight oats in glass jars, which customers “love to reuse – they make their own overnight oats, face scrubs, body scrubs, jams, lemon curd – all sorts of things!”
Megan mentioned that HumaniTea and Oatsu are social enterprises. It took Lauren some time to find a cause that truly aligned with Oatsu’s mission and values.
Work for Good, who match small businesses with charities they’re passionate about, helped her find The Girls’ Network: “I’ve always been passionate about supporting other young women, and I have done quite a lot of mentoring when I was at school and university. We’ve partnered with The Girls’ Network, who support the future of less advantaged young women across the UK through mentorship from professional female mentors in the workplace. We donate a portion of our profits to them several times a year.”