Partners in Performance supports Bedford’s social enterprise launch

04 May 2023 3 min. read

Disability employment non-profit Bedford has launched a new commercial kitchen, the culmination of an organisational review in collaboration with management consultancy Partners in Performance.

Management consulting firm Partners in Performance has partnered with the Bedford Group to boost employment opportunities in South Australia for people with disability.

Driven by the need for Bedford to overhaul its funding model, the collaboration has seen the establishment of the employment non-profit’s first commercial kitchen, which officially opened its doors in March under the name Cultivate Food and Beverage.

Partners in Performance supports Bedford’s social enterprise launch

Speaking on the difficulties for people with disability to find meaningful work, Bedford CEO Myron Mann said: “Working in the open market can be daunting and often lacks the right level of support, which is why Bedford is creating a market for people who want to earn Award wages. We need to be bold and courageous to ensure our employees have a diverse range of opportunities and are set up for success and financial security.”

Launching in Brooklyn Park with an initial team of 35 employees and trainees of all ability, Bedford will now look to gradually expand its network of commercial kitchens and social enterprise model across the Adelaide region, backed by a $50 million five-year investment. Cultivate has already secured a number of local and national supply contracts, with the kitchen expected to produce up to 800 kilos of product per eight-hour shift.

“Our partnership with Bedford has led to the identification of an under-served niche in commercial kitchens, and the development of a model that will provide open employment opportunities for people of all abilities,” said Partners in Performance partner Ben Thompson.

“Bedford is a great case study on how not-for-profits can reinvent themselves and how consulting firms can successfully apply their commercial expertise to help the not-for-profit sector.”

Bedford, Australia’s second-largest employer of people with disability, notes that its organisation-wide review was initially prompted by legislative changes which compromised the viability of some of its operations, with Partners in Performance credited with providing valuable assistance and expertise in identifying the new approach to generating employment, social and learning opportunities for Bedford’s almost 2,000 clients.

“We sought Partners in Performance’s expertise to enhance and improve Bedford’s growth – positioning our brand as a not-for-profit with a business and sustainable focus,” said Bedford Social Enterprises chief operating officer Sam Hunter. “The consultancy has also been instrumental in finding new markets to strengthen Bedford’s sustainability, which is crucial for it to continue offering employment to the wider community.”

Hunter continued; “By introducing a social enterprise aspect to our not-for-profit model, Bedford is now able to cast a wider net for clients and better support them in achieving their career aspirations within commercial kitchens, restaurants, and the wider hospitality industry. This shift will equip our clients with the skills needed to embrace exciting opportunities and assist with overcoming barriers attached to pursuing such careers.”