How to be an ethical entrepreneur talk with Tessa Clarke, co-founder of OLIO

With COP 26 on the horizon, Tessa Clarke, co-founder of the food sharing app OLIO joined students across the GDST for a lunchtime talk to chat about sustainability and her journey as an ethical entrepreneur. This was the first in a series of talks, spearheaded by our GDST Eco-Society, open to all sixth formers across our family of schools.

One third of all food produced globally is thrown away and food waste costs the average UK household over £700 a year. Whilst food waste fell sharply last year as we were all confined to our homes, it’s on the rise again and it looks like better education is needed as a recent survey revealed two-thirds of UK adults don’t see a link between climate change and food waste.

Tessa opened her talk explaining that her mission to tackle food waste is a personal one which started as a child growing up on her parents’ dairy farm in North Yorkshire. This upbringing instilled a sense that there was always work to do and a strong connection with food production methods so Tessa always understood ‘food is meant to be eaten, not thrown away’. She went on to share her top tips on growing a business from a small start-up to an international business with over 5 million users in 59 countries. She urged our future changemakers to look for a real problem and solve it and to harness the power of their communities. She encouraged budding entrepreneurs to view curiosity as a super power and to never underestimate their capacity for experimentation, trying new ideas and learning and adapting quickly.

At the heart of Tessa’s talk lay a genuine and infectious enthusiasm for saving the planet through reducing food waste and a real desire to make a difference and encourage others to take their first steps on this journey. Steps like those already being taken by schools across the GDST, such as by South Hampstead High School through their partnership with the London charity FEAST With Us. Vicky Bingham, Head of South Hampstead who hosted the event, comments, ‘This important partnership started during lockdown and our pupils, staff and parents have been cooking nutritious meals, from food that would otherwise go to waste, to deliver to vulnerable individuals in the local community. It’s one of our many initiatives to help combat waste and to raise awareness of the environmental consequences of consumption…but we’re also aware that there’s always so much more that we can do, as individuals and a community and that’s why talking about these issues and raising awareness of them remains a key priority.’

Amy Bailey, Online Learning and Innovation Manager at the GDST, who organised the event, comments, ‘It’s a huge privilege to be able to work with female entrepreneurs like Tessa and offer our students an insight into the growing area of green careers. Today’s talk is a direct response to our student community who requested more climate change education outside of the traditional curriculum areas such as Geography and, by bringing sustainability and business together, we hope to offer a different perspective on such an important topic.’