We met Ljubomir Stojcheski through the Retweet a Meal initiative, within which volunteers from Skopje prepare food for people in need. Ljubomir, together with his FR3SH4S (pronounce: Freshys) restaurant, has quite an active part in it.
FR3SH4S started almost a year ago, at the end of December 2015. I did a master thesis on social entrepreneurship. I made a survey about common challenges and key success factors with around 150 social entrepreneurs from Europe and USA. It was a new subject for me, as here, in Macedonia, we don’t have studies connected with social entrepreneurship. I found it really interesting and I decided it’s the thing I want to do. Whether is food restaurant or any other business, I believe that social entrepreneurship is the future of the whole economy. I don’t think that 10 years from now there will be any company which doesn’t do anything on social subjects, customers will demand it from businesses. And this is the way to go, companies are part of our society, they get benefit from it and they have to give back. Thinking about my own business, at the beginning I was not sure it will be food related, but I like healthy food. And I realized that although we have cheap fruits and vegetables in Macedonia, we don’t have many places where you can buy healthy food for an affordable price. So I decided to create a space which offers healthy food, with vegan options, vegetarian options and classic options with meat, for reasonable price. And part of the profit will go to homeless people.
Today, after little bit more than a year, they are sustainable, which in the time of economic crisis is quite an achievement, showing that people appreciate the idea.
The initial goal was to make people realize that when they buy something they actually vote. When you go to supermarket, you vote for a company. It’s not only the price and quality of product but also what that company brings to the society which matters. It should be one of the things people take into consideration when buying a product.
FR3SH4S does good by giving 34% of their profits to people in need. That’s the first step. But not the only one.
Our next step, which we have already started to introduce few months ago, is to give discount to some group of people. We have permanent discount for students, 15% in all products all the time, 20% for single parents and in the near future we want to introduce 30% discount for handicap people. We want to get healthy food closer and more affordable to those groups. And hopefully other people won’t be unhappy that we give permanent discount to those clients and not to them.
One of the challenges of FR3SH4S is to explain customers the idea behind it. The concept of social business is still very fresh in Macedonia. But step by step they managed to introduce it and receive very positive feedbacks which motivates them to go on.
We consider the biggest success that people really appreciate what we do and always encourage us to continue. Every time we put our results on facebook, people give cheerful comments, ask how they can join, help. Hopefully next year we open a second location in Skopje. In the future we want to spread at least in the Balkans through franchising. There were a couple of social investors that came from Austria and Hungary and they really liked our idea. They said we should keep in touch till the moment we have one stable, profitable location, and then we can try to do something more at least at a regional level.
How to achieve that? Just follow what’s important for you.
The most important thing is do something which is meaningful for you. Something which makes you feel that you do positive change, at least in your neighborhood. I think it’s a beautiful gift you can give to yourself, trying to do something as social entrepreneur. Many people here, when they get old, they talk about things they haven’t done, it’s their main regret. If you have an idea, you think you can do something, start it. It doesn’t matter if you fail, you may inspire something bigger than yourself, something that can be done later or by somebody else.
More about FR3SH4S: www.facebook.com/FR3SH4S