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Navina-Bartlett-Coconut-Chilli-Boss-Lady

My mission to plug the gaping wide hole in the food industry

I want to tell you about my mission for Coconut Chilli. I’m going to plug the gaping hole between our time-intensive, small-batch, handcrafted curries and the commercially manufactured ready-meals that place shelf life before flavour.

Over the last year, I’ve come to realise that Coconut Chilli is one of those companies that simply doesn’t fit either end of the scale. Last year, we were one of the finalists of Ocado’s Top 50 Suppliers competition (a Dragons’ Den style food contest). Yet we struggled to cost our products to be affordable enough for the online supermarket. We’re an early stage company – our ingredients, packaging and most importantly labour all cost money.

And then just this week I heard that we’ve not been selected for the Bristol Food Connections producers market because we are not ‘hand made’ enough. So does hand-made and ethical mean small? No, I don’t believe it should. Have I given up? NO, certainly not, but I must admit that I stalled a little for a while there.

Now Virgin Start Up has given me the chance to scale-up. I’ve been awarded a loan of £22,500. I thank them from the bottom of my heart because it gives me the chance to scale my artisan food company. Farmers markets were the beginning but I have much bigger, global goals. I was lucky enough to be able to self fund my business – using a combination of hard-earned savings, credit cards & spare cash to launch and slowly ‘test the market’. It’s hard out there at the farmer’s markets and without funding it can take years to grow a profitable business. I really admire the hard workers who have made their micro food businesses a success.

Thank you Bristol, my ‘fabulously foodie city’ for inspiring me to launch Coconut Chilli. But I’ve outgrown you now. The reason? Although there are lots of wonderful initiatives, they are mostly ‘local’ and not cost effective enough to really make an impact around the world.

Let’s take the hugely important organic movement for example. Local organic shops and markets are a great start, but they sell expensive goods and this prevents the poorest families enjoying healthy, natural foods. I don’t want Coconut Chilli to be available just for the middle classes – so we have to do things in a completely different way.

I believe the food industry needs to acknowledge it’s not all about shelf life & profits. It’s become my mission to change this – on a global scale and Coconut Chilli is my vehicle to do it.

I plan to disrupt conventional manufacturing by utilising innovative shelf life technology and packaging so that our ‘artisanally crafted’ products can be manufactured on a much larger scale, without compromising on quality.

My small team and I want to be the first British ‘curry’ brand to go global with our chilled meal pots and to be recognised as a world-class British B-Corp*.

If you want to follow Coconut Chilli, I will tell you how we’re going to grow and become a B-Corp. We are trying a new strategy which means you’ll be able to buy our food all across the UK (except the farthest flung corners). We send it directly to you in your office/workplace and we will make a small profit on each meal pot. Our food will remain as fresh and natural as it can be.

Coconut Chilli is just one aspect of my own personal mission to create sustainable food systems around the world. This means integrating new technologies and crowd-sourcing ideas and funds along the way. I’m particularly passionate about the United Nations ‘17 Goals for Sustainable Development’ #GlobalGoals

We have some exciting Coconut Chilli developments in the pipeline – so if you want to support me on my mission, please share this message with your colleagues, friends and family members.

Together, let’s show the food industry that we consumers want to try to do things a better way.

Much love,

Navina

Founder and Boss Lady, Coconut Chilli

*B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

27th March 2016

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