Glasgow cafe operator Greenhouse Community CIC hits a million

Co-founders Steven Jacobs and Mandy Harris. Picture: Contributed
Co-founders Steven Jacobs and Mandy Harris. Picture: Contributed
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A Glasgow-based community interest company is set to exceed £1 million annual turnover as it prepares to launch its sixth site within three years.

Greenhouse Community CIC, a cafe operator which offers employment and employability training to workers from marginalised groups, is poised to record seven-figure revenues for the first time this year.

Established in 2016, the business is accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to use its on-site cafes for providing hospitality training to people with additional needs, such as those with disabilities, mental health issues or long employment gaps.

Around 70 per cent of trainees who have achieved certification through the company’s training plans are now in paid employment, with approximately 60 trainees currently going through the company’s training process.

Through its coaching staff, Greenhouse also runs barista courses in East Renfrewshire high schools, which have helped hundreds of school pupils to gain qualifications in the last 18 months.

Greenhouse began by conducting training for fifth-year students but has since expanded to include third and fourth-year pupils due to the programme’s popularity.

The business is now calling for local authorities and schools across Scotland to consider its “unique” business model, ahead of the launch of its new site in Glasgow’s George Street this summer, which will also offer courses to University of Strathclyde students.

Around 30 staff currently work in the Greenhouse cafes, which also act as venues for clubs and community groups.

Co-founders Mandy Harris and Steven Jacobs launched the first Greenhouse cafe in a health centre after securing support for their business model from East Renfrewshire council.

The pair were later approached regarding additional opportunities and now have five on-site cafes, including one in Rutherglen Exchange Shopping Centre.

Harris said: “Because we’ve got SQA accreditation, we can put everyone in the community through a training scheme and if they’re capable of passing then we can put them forward for employment.

“We use the cafe as a vehicle to get trainees their qualifications in hospitality - there’s so many different levels of their capabilities.

“We have a girl with Down Syndrome who is teaching barista training with one of our trainers in the schools. She could get a job anywhere.”

The business is now looking to expand its footprint across Scotland, calling for more local authorities to adopt a similar model.

Harris added: “We’re really looking for every council to take us in. We have the additional benefits of taking people from the community and helping as well.

“Our plan is to cover the whole country.”