Meet small business grant winner, Ben Francoise from Saints Coffee.
Saints Coffee is a social enterprise offering specialty and ethical coffee, casual dining, cocktails and a pop-up space in the heart of Northampton and coffee and chocolate online. In August 2021, Saints Coffee opened its coffee shop on St Giles Street, Northampton.
25% of their profits fund community projects to help tackle mental health issues, as well as promote social justice and social mobility.
These projects help:
School children overcoming barriers such as discrimination and aspiring to achieve more
Individuals struggling with mental health issues related to social isolation
People furthest from the labour market back into employment.
How did the idea for your business come about? And why is it important to you?
Ben Francoise: I wanted a business that could sit in the heart of Northampton and help drive a sense of community and support our social projects. A coffee shop and bar work perfectly for this.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Ben: Patience waiting to open through consecutive lockdowns, but also being adaptable. For instance we started our online marketing and e-commerce site long before we planned to as we had the time to do this during lockdowns.
How the BIPC helped you?
Ben: The seminars were really useful for tips and advice on things like marketing and business planning.
What are your plans for the grant?
Ben: The grant helped us buy top quality coffee equipment to be the cornerstone of our business and social enterprise. It really helped us take a step up in the specialty coffee world and use cutting edge espresso technology.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ben: Spare time isn't something I get a lot of at the moment! So I'd mostly be found sleeping, but I am trying to get back into reading more, which is something I used to love but seem to have stopped doing as much as I'd like.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Ben: Just to be authentic and yourself, that way interactions with others are more genuine and people know where they stand with you. It also makes for an easier work life balance because you're not straining yourself to be something or somebody you're not.
Has there been a book that impacted you?
Ben: The writing that has most impacted me is the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Her ability to convey so much meaning in so few words is inspiring for me.
Describe your life as an entrepreneur in one word.
After a wave of enquiries and over 150 applications, the Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire team shortlisted 34 aspiring entrepreneurs, who were invited to give a presentation on their new start-up to a panel of judges in a Dragon’s Den style elevator pitch as part of the Reset. Restart Small Business Grants programme. Saint's Coffee was one of our 19 winners.
Visit Saint's Coffee: https://www.saintscoffee.co.uk
To learn more about our small business grant winners, click here!