Whitelion Charity Merger Bears Fruit
4 April 2017 at 11:12 am
Social enterprise, Fruit2Work has merged with youth charity Whitelion in a partnership that will see the organisations share administrative resources and office space in a bid to grow more quickly.
Ariel Hersh, co-founder of Fruit2Work said: “Less than 12 months ago, we made our first fruit delivery to just a few businesses from the back of a car. Fast forward to last week and we now have our own vehicle, delivering 200 boxes a week and already have two participants through the program and into full time employment.
“The merger with Whitelion will mean additional employment pathways and opportunities for the young people they [already] support.”
Fruit2Work CEO Rob Brown told Pro Bono News the merger had two major drivers.
“Firstly Whitelion recognised that social enterprise is becoming a more important part of how to get a sustainable revenue going forward and the other driver was that Fruit2Work, like lots of small start-ups, gets to a point of saying well how do we scale this thing as effectively as we can,” Brown said.
“Typically there are two ways of doing that. One is to do it yourself which takes a lot of effort and bandwidth or you can partner with somebody who already has that bandwidth.”
Brown said the founders of Fruit2Work spoke to a few not for profits and aligned with Whitelion primarily because “they really had great empathy in terms of their social mission”.
“There’s the reach that Whitelion has and the synergy between the customers that Fruit2Work already has and the potential customers that Whitelion can bring on board,” he said.
“We haven’t quantified [the merger] in dollar terms but Fruit2Work in reality had no back end office… but as you get to a certain size then the structure and control you need increases exponentially. [With the merger] you can effectively inherit that back office and leverage from what’s already there.”
Brown said Fruit2Work had set a goal of delivering 1,000 boxes of fruit a week in 2017.
“That sounds like a lot, in reality it is a very small percentage of the market – it’s about 8 per cent. But a commercial competitor for example, last week when we shipped about 6,000 pieces of fruit, well they shipped 600,000 pieces of fruit, so the opportunity for growth is enormous.”
Mark Watt, CEO of Whitelion said: “Fruit2Work will be able to leverage shared resources, capital investments and a platform for increased sales to accelerate the growth of the enterprise.
“Whitelion is intimately aware of the challenges for former offenders in Australia, where almost every second person to leave prison is back within 24 months.
“We recognise that Fruit2Work helps to lessen the financial impact to society of offending and reoffending, and we are looking forward to further reducing this together.”
He said the co-founders of Fruit2Work would continue providing strategic guidance as they sit on the combined not-for-profit board.