Meet the woman helping vulnerable Aussies

Rebecca Scott is the founder of STREAT, a multi-venue hospitality organisation whose traineeships change the lives of vulnerable young people.

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Passionate social entrepreneur Rebecca Scott is, quite simply, an unstoppable force.

She’s the woman that founded STREAT, a multi-venue hospitality organisation whose traineeships are changing the lives of vulnerable Aussies.

Through their cafes, catering and artisan baking, STREAT provides the opportunity for homeless kids to learn hospitality skills and open the door to a new start.

A scientist by training and with no experience in hospitality or social work, Rebecca founded STREAT in 2009 after a simple meal in Vietnam changed her life when she realised the impact business could have on solving social issues.

It was a steep learning curve when Rebecca first jumped into the world of social enterprise.

Since pushing their first food cart onto Federation Square, the heart of STREAT’s mission hasn’t changed, but over 7 years the business model has evolved.

“People’s feasibility studies are often quite different from what their organisations evolve to be. In our case, we were going to be a whole fleet of street food carts dotted all over inner Melbourne but there were a number of things that got in the way.

The first one was the weather, it was a tough first winter and first summer. Quickly we started to realise there was a flaw in the business model”

Closing in on the holy grail of financial self-sufficiency as a social enterprise, STREAT is currently 70 per cent self-funded from its own earned revenue, with less than 1 per cent government funding.

“Getting access to capital to grow facilities, that’s been really hard. We’ve always had to rely on this mix of very much philanthropy and early government grants” says Rebecca.

Her savvy ability to bring unusual groups of people together to collaborate on amazing projects has been Rebecca’s trump card when it comes to accessing capital.

“Most of us who are trying to build these hybrid type organisations are having to really look at a very broad range of capital” says Rebecca and points to the portfolio of investors for STREATS growth “To date, I’ve had about 13 investors and you’ve got to cobble it all together and get each bit to leverage the other bits.”

Rebecca made the decision right from the outset to build a holistic organisation that provided psychological support as well as teaching practical skills for STREAT’s trainees.

“STREAT is not just about training and employment, you need to embed all those extra (psychological) supports. A kid isn’t going to show up today if they’re trying to find a home. or somewhere to sleep tonight.”

Rebecca and her STREAT team are just warming up, with plans to branch out from Melbourne’s inner city to the suburbs.

After commissioning research to map the hotspots for social issues, STREAT will be opening a site in Dandenong and Brimbank to support vulnerable young people in those areas.

“I’m really proud of the things we’ve done in this first 6 years. But the things we can do in the next 20 start to get really exciting”

“Unless I’m scaring myself every day, I don’t think I’m being brave enough”.

Listen to the full interview at The Constant Investor or on iTunes 

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