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12 December, 2016 - 12:23 By Tony Quested

Disley injects extra £150k into Cambodia social enterprise project

Cambridge medical technology entrepreneur Dr Darrin Disley has added to a remarkable track record of backing social enterprise globally by donating an additional £150,000 to the exciting Footprint Cafés initiative in Cambodia.

It brings his total contribution to the venture to £300k. Dr Disley, who is CEO of personal medicines pioneer Horizon Discovery, is a trustee in the initiative with fellow Cambridge entrepreneur Professor Alan Barrell. The aim is to make Footprint the world’s first chain of sustainable enterprise cafés; funding and inspiring community projects and better education by leveraging the region’s attraction as a tourist destination.

The first café has just been opened in Siem Reap and there are plans to establish new cafés in Laos, Nepal and Vietnam; in a parallel move, global brands expert Mags Dixon has been appointed chief marketing officer. She  has 15 years of experience working on brands such as Costa, Pizza Hut and Premier Inn.

The Footprints chain is committed to re-invest 100 per cent of net profits into local communities.

As founder of Footprint Cafés, Georgina Hemmingway’s idea is to harness the spending power of tourism for the benefit of local communities. The vision is to establish global network of Enterprise Cafés that pays forward all profits as grants for local educational programs and social enterprises as well as contributing to the establishment of new cafés in countries across the developing world.

Footprint is a triple bottom line social enterprise, meaning it judges its success on ‘People, Planet and Profit’. As well as donating its profits as grants, Footprint aims to provide its teams with the best of employment practices and strives to look after the planet.

Footprint says its customers can not only expect a superior café experience but can also be sure that their visit is having a positive impact on the local community.

The new enterprise café in Siem Reap, is now open with a team of 14 and is on track to become profitable within its first three months of operation. Profits from the café will be used to provide grants for the local community, to employ a local team and to help fund the roll-out of a wave of cafés in Cambodia, Laos, Nepal and Vietnam.

Dr Disley is a champion of social enterprise in the Cambridge and London UK communities and a key figure within ethical entrepreneurship, having received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion earlier this year.

He  has boosted Footprint Café’s non-profit’s reserves considerably, thus enabling the opening of three to four additional enterprises in 2017/18. 
This will be followed by a one-time fundraise of $1.5 million to build 25 cafes, which will enable a fully sustainable global expansion model of five new cafes per year funded through established café profits.
This will allow the enterprise to focus on establishing itself in every corner of the world and aims to become the brand-of-choice for ethically motivated tourists.

A key element of establishing the model is holding book drives aligned to the launch of each Enterprise Café. In June 2016, book donations from AstraZeneca, Medimmune, Horizon Discovery and Cambridge University as well as numerous organisations including SMEs, UK schools, charities and authors yielded 9,000 books, pushing Footprint Cafés beyond their target of 8,000.
Of those, 4,000 were children’s books which will be donated to local organisations providing access to free quality education for impoverished children in Siem Reap; 1,000 were reference books which will be used to give university students in Siem Reap free access to a reference library and the final 4,000 fiction books will be sold in the café to generate $20,000 to $30,000 worth of funds that will further support the award of grants. 
Dr Disley said: “To be involved in this impacting project that uses the power of global tourism to drive sustainability and social mobility one community at a time is of real importance to me.

“My financial pledge is a sign of my belief in the project and its business model and helps to put Footprint Cafés in a good position to roll-out our first wave of Enterprise Café’s and then reach our scale up funding target of $1.5 million. 

“With the help of this initial funding and experience of senior team members, such as Mags for marketing the enterprise, we can transition into a self-sustained funding model which will ensure that the chain can continue to expand exponentially funded entirely on the back of its success in other areas of the globe.”

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