Skip to content

Tag: Jamie Oliver

Enlighten Education – A proud, and highly successful, social enterprise.

1613882_10152158812673105_2873685670766955317_nOn Wednesday of this week I had the enormous privilege of attending the In Style Magazine Women Of Style Awards as a Finalist in the Charity and Community category.

I was so incredibly thrilled to be short -listed, particularly in this category, for Enlighten was established as a social enterprise and as such, is quite a unique entity in the domain in which we chose to work.

Social enterprises are:

  • Driven by a public or community cause, be it social, environmental, cultural or economic.
  • Derive most of their income from trade, not donations.
  • Use the majority of their profits to work towards their social mission.
  • Accountable and transparent.

Other social enterprises you may be familiar with include The Big Issue and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.

Why was Enlighten set up in this way? After spending most of my early career working in the not-for-profit sector (as an Education Officer employed by the Catholic Education Office developing innovative programs to assist students at risk) I know how frustrating it is to try to do meaningful work that will have a long-term impact if one needs to continually rely on donations and external funding support. Sadly, those working in this sector often spend the vast majority of their time looking for funding rather than actually doing the work that inspires them ( and that the community assume they will be doing)! The table below may surprise you – I certainly find the use of donations being spent to merely drive the hunger for more money at the very least problematic.


Screen shot 2014-05-24 at 11.35.43 AM


Whilst working as an Education Officer in the area of school to work transition and in seeking and creating innovative approaches towards this, I began studying a Masters in Business Administration and writing a course that was approved for study for the NSW HSC on social entrepreneurship. I became obsessed with the idea that business really could move the world by generating not just profit, but social change.

I decided, therefore, when I established Enlighten Education with my partner Francesca Kaoutal that our business would need to be self-sufficient; and that the work we did would need to be valued enough for clients to be prepared to place a value on it. I was also loathe to establish my girl-changing idea as a charity as I did not want to have to be in a position where I would need to accept donations off commercial entities that might perhaps want to see brand placement be part of the trade-off, or associate our work with their marketing -to- teens / girls and women agenda (think Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and their work in schools). I wanted Enlighten to be commercial free!

And might I add that running Enlighten this way is not easy. If we were a charity, we would be eligible not only for donations, but for significant tax breaks ( like all small businesses, I will admit to finding taxes sometimes crippling). Charities receive income tax concessions, franking credits, goods and service tax concessions, fringe benefit tax rebates and more! On a personal note, I would be earning far more too if I was employed in a similar role in a non-profit ( in fact, I took a 50% pay cut for the first 5 years that I ran Enlighten and still earn far less than CEO’s of similar charitable organisations).

So to see our highly successful social enterprise ( we work with over 20,000 teen girls each year , have developed a team of over team of passionate, talented women who deliver our programs across three countries, give back by actively supporting charities, do much advocacy work in the community, pay taxes that contribute to the country’s overall benefit, and have received widespread acclaim for our work) recognised as a valued player in the community was an absolute confirmation of the way in which we have chosen to be change-makers.

So inspired by Samah! Do read about her work.
So inspired by Samah! Do read about her work.

As a business woman, I think more entities who wish to make positive community changes need to also look at our model and consider becoming a social enterprise too rather than a charity for surely, giving increasing financial pressures on the always cash-strapped charity sector, we need to seek more entrepreneurial, self-sustaining models.

In saying all this, I was absolutely thrilled for the other two Finalists who were both actively involved in more traditional charitable work – Olivia Newtown John, and the winner Samah Hadid. Samah is an absolute dynamo and I am thrilled she and I will soon meet to compare stories and plan the revolution.

The world needs many change makers – including those who seek creative ways to bringing about this change.

Yep. I am damn  proud of Enlighten and all she has achieved, and will continue to achieve for our girls. And yep; I was damn proud to see this externally acknowledged.

You may wish to read more about our work in the community here too:


Reconnecting with food.


A guest post by Enlighten Education’s Queensland Program Director Storm Greenhill-Brown

I have been thinking, as we approach the frenzied lead up to Christmas, of the rituals of preparing, sharing, and receiving food. I have also been thinking of how I am going to really miss eating when I have my 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed this Friday. I have been mentally cataloguing food that I may or may not be able to eat.

Food is always welcome at my table and I have always admired those who give it due respect and care. When I first joined the Enlighten family, Francesca prepared a meal with such ease and grace and stated very humbly, “Keep it simple”. Wise words from an Italian mamma. You may have heard or read about the Slow Food Movement, which was naturally founded by an Italian fellow called Carlo Petrini. The Slow Food concept essentially helps people to re-discover the joys of eating and helps them to understand where their food comes from, who makes it, and how it is made. Part of the Slow Food Manifesto states, “We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus – Fast Life”. Slow food cooking aims to combat this 21st century disease that nutritionists believe is contributing to the obesity epidemic, especially in western children. To know intimately what we are eating and to allow ourselves to be seduced by flavours and aromas and to accept that this is just one part of being human, may go a long way to creating a generation of kids who are “food educated”.

It is true that Europeans allow themselves to create space in their culture for food. French cuisine is usually 6 courses and wine is taken with meals. Once, I shared a taxi into Rome with a girl who was heady with the thought of her first espresso and antipasto and I’ve never forgotten her passion. She had no thoughts of the Colosseum – food was integral to her journey through Italy. The aesthetics of eating play a large part too in the Slow Food way. The table is set and the anticipation is that this will be a meal of sharing, of intense pleasure, of laughter. From having a connection with the food on a basic level (perhaps you have grown some of it or you sourced it from a farmers’ market in your area that buys from local growers), you derive pleasure from each mouthful and allow yourself to love food and what it can do for your body and brain. The Slow Food movement is widely recognised in Australia and is growing in popularity.

Recently I discovered that a two-litre bottle of Coke is cheaper to buy than two litres of milk. In many families, money is readily available for KFC but not for groceries and whole foods and from generation to generation we stagger.

In South Australia in the coming years a French program called EPODE will be trialled in many schools. The focal question of this programme, which is based on the belief that childhood eating habits and obesity must be tackled at government and community levels with a variety of stakeholders involved, is “Can giving nutritional information to children change the eating habits of the whole family?” I agree strongly that changes are more likely to occur when a community works together for a “culture change.” Jamie Oliver gets it and his nutrition-in-schools crusade in the UK seems to me a step in the right direction.

The more I reflect on our society’s increasingly strained relationship with food, the more I am convinced that there is a fundamental lack of education about the centrality of food to human wellbeing. More and more I find myself doing as my Nanna did and giving my girlfriends great recipes out of her little handwritten black book!!

Bon Appetit!

Subscribe By Email

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Skip to toolbar