This social entrepreneur is changing the world. One meal at a time

Interview with David Hertz, founder of Gastromotiva

Can you briefly describe your social enterprise?

Gastromotiva is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to create opportunities and inclusion, and bring dignity and wellbeing to those most in need through food and gastronomy. We believe a variety of social and environmental challenges can be solved through food. Our organization started in Brazil and now works in four countries. We train young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become kitchen assistants and cooks, providing quality employment. We support food entrepreneurs to improve health and wellbeing in the favelas, educating some of the poorest communities on how to eat well on limited budgets. And at the Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio de Janeiro, we work with the world’s top chefs to produce meals for the homeless (alleviating poverty), using ingredients that would otherwise be wasted (promoting responsible consumption). Our organization is one of the main drivers of the Social Gastronomy Movement, and our space in Rio has become a real “social gastronomy hub.”

How important is partnership to expanding your social and environmental impact?

Gastromotiva needed to work with multi-stakeholder partners to spread the social gastronomy model across Brazil and the world. And we know we can deliver more positive social and environmental outcomes if we work together. Take our program to train bright young people from the most underserved communities. We’re proud of each chef we’ve taught, with many working in the world’s best restaurants. But real social impact comes from training these people to train others, creating decent work and tackling poverty at scale. To move to the next level, we’re partnering with corporate institutions and multilateral development agencies (like the Inter-American Development Bank) to turn our local solutions into global ones.

Do you think there are some partnerships to fund the SDGs that aren’t working?

Our experience is that the toughest partnerships are those between smaller social enterprises like Gastromotiva and big institutions like governments. The SDGs are global problems without a doubt, so we need global awareness and international cooperation. Yet social entrepreneurs have the local people, the local experience, and the local solutions. If we really want to partner for the Goals, governments need to make more effort to use the SDGs as a framework for tackling the world’s problems. And they need to connect with social entrepreneurs sooner so we can turn good policy ideas into great social and environmental outcomes on the ground.

This interview is part of our World Economic Forum annual white paper 2018.


What type of partnerships can help social entrepreneurs in achieving the SDGs?

I think there’s a great opportunity for partners to bring digital innovations to the social enterprise world. Technology is so valuable in connecting entrepreneurs with capital, ideas, and expertise in a way that doesn’t cost too much, and can cross cultural and geographic boundaries. It is also important to partner with specialists that can measure social and environmental impact more efficiently, but without putting too many costs on social entrepreneurs with limited money. Gastromotiva can measure some of its direct impact well – we have saved over 40,000kgs of food from being wasted, for example. But it’s much harder to measure indirect impact. If we can work together to present social and environmental data to potential investors, we can attract more interest and capital to deliver better outcomes for society and achieve the SDGs.

Partnerships between social entrepreneurs are also vital for achieving the SDGs. Programs like UBS Global Visionaries have a real value for businesses like Gastromotiva. It was through UBS that we connected with Mariéme Jamme and her enterprise iamtheCODE. Together we shared a common interest in creating new chances for the most disadvantaged. Mariéme uses the power of coding, we use social gastronomy.

We saw the potential that iamtheCODE had to help Gastromotiva’s community. And through partnership Mariéme and I worked together to launch iamtheCODE in Brazil. Our businesses support the SDGs in different ways, but our partnership highlights that we need to work together if we want to make a real positive impact.

Read also an interview with Chuck Slaughter, founder of Living Goods.

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