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Doing Business Sustainably – feat. OLIO

In our most recent interview for the series ‘Doing Business Sustainably’ we caught up with Tessa Clarke, Co-founder & CEO of OLIO. OLIO is a food sharing app that encourages people to share any extra or unwanted food with their neighbourhood communities.

ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself, your company, and your role?

Tessa: Hi, I’m Tessa, Co-founder & CEO of OLIO. OLIO is the world’s first neighbour-to-neighbour food sharing app, with over 2 million members.

ADLIB: Can you share the story behind the origin of the company and what its mission is?

Tessa: I’m a farmer’s daughter, and so have always hated throwing away good food. That’s because I know from first-hand experience just how much hard work goes into producing it! As a result, the inspiration for OLIO came when I was moving country and found myself on moving day with some good food that we hadn’t managed to eat, but that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away. And so I set off on a bit of a wild goose chase to try and find someone to give it to, and I failed miserably. Through the whole process it seemed to me crazy that I should have to throw this food away when there were surely plenty of people within hundreds of metres of me who would love it, the problem was they just didn’t know about it. And so the idea of OLIO, a mobile app that connects neighbours to share food came about!

ADLIB: What has been your inspiration to work within Sustainability and what is your take on the importance of Doing Business Sustainably?

Tessa: Once my Co-Founder and I had researched the problem of food waste – and realised just how enormous it was – it was impossible to turn our backs on it. Globally, one-third of all the food we produce gets thrown away which is worth over $1 trillion p.a.; meanwhile 800m people go hungry (who could be fed on a quarter of the food we waste in the West); and if food waste were to be a country, it would be the third largest source of greenhouse gases, after the USA and China! And as we look to the future, we have another 2.2 billion people joining the planet by 2050, and in order to feed us all we need to increase global food production by 60% according to the FAO, but today, we have no idea how we will achieve this. When we discovered that half of all food waste in developed countries takes place in the home, we became committed to launching the OLIO app to solve this!

Since inception, we’ve been determined to ensure that at every step of the way we’re focused on combining profit with purpose. That’s because we passionately believe that this will be the new business paradigm.

ADLIB: Could you share any challenges, barriers or preconceptions that you’ve come across and had to overcome regarding Sustainability?

Tessa: There are two main challenges. The first is getting access to capital. Unfortunately tech for good is still seen as a relatively niche sector, and so it’s much harder to raise for than fin-tech, AI or cyber-security! Also as diverse Founders, the fundraising journey is unfortunately more challenging too. On the plus side though, it seems like the fundraising landscape is changing pretty rapidly, so I’m hopeful it will improve.
The second main challenge is around access to reliable granular carbon data so we can effectively measure our impact. We have great impact data for the food sharing that takes place on OLIO, but still have some work to do around the impact of non-food sharing.

ADLIB: Would you be able to share some of the wisdom that you have gathered around Doing Business Sustainably?

Tessa: Doing business sustainably is a super power! Why? Because the next generation of customers and employees are actively looking for this, so if you want to grow fast, and attract and retain the very best talent then your mission will be key.

Thank you for sharing!