Hedge fund honcho and sustainable kitchen magnate prove businesses can make world better

Two leaders of values-driven businesses joined me in the radio studio on Friday 13th December:

Gareth Roberts is part of Regather, a cooperative launched in 2010 whose work building a more sustainable food system for Sheffield is creating numerous positive environmental, social and economic impacts. Regather has also started a hedge fund – with a difference.

And Rob Cole’s firm Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens designs and makes beautiful, bespoke kitchens with sustainability and ethics at their core.

The episode demonstrates (again!) how businesses can make the world better, can be ethical and sustainable, with environmental and social responsibility at their core.

It includes reflections on dramatic changes: to conventional business and to social enterprises – and why businesses which don’t adapt will be bankrupt or simply won’t exist.

And both Gareth and Rob have some extremely important advice, plus lessons learned in Regather’s decade and SSK’s 12 years of operation.

Here’s the podcast. Click the large arrow to play, or hover over the media player and click on the icon on the bottom right corner to download it.

You can also access it in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, numerous other podcast apps or Spotify.


  • 0-1 introduction.
  • 1:15  Regather’s trading activities include a fruit and vegetable delivery box scheme with over 300 customers; has taken on a 14 acre site for a market garden and farm; puts on events and operates a venue with a programme of live events, a microbrewery and commercial kitchen.
  • 2:15 What is the Sheffield Hedge Fund?
  • 3:20 Why Rob started Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens 12 years ago, and why he and others have launched the Sheffield Sustainability Network.
  • 5:00 Last week Regather won the Sheffield Business Award for Corporate Social Responsibility. And last year, Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens won this award. Gareth’s delighted to have won and will maximise the opportunities from this, as he describes, and (10:18) Rob tells us about the impact of winning last year.
  • 12:15 Rob’s ethos about sustainable business and community wealth creation.
  • 13:55 The social enterprise ‘sector’ is changing and conventional business is changing. How so? What still needs to happen?
  • 16:40 Why businesses which don’t adapt will be bankrupt or simply won’t exist.
  • 17:30 Confronting an elephant in the room if asserting that public opinion is changing. And what can we learn from the election result?
  • 21:10 Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever) has described the vacuum of political leadership on environment. Businesses and social enterprises are stepping in to address challenges which politicians aren’t, can’t or won’t.
  • 25:00 “Multi-value” businesses effecting change.
  • 27:30 Cambridge Social Ventures’ Cambridge Social Innovation Award was featured on the radio show earlier in 2019. Regather is one of four inaugural winners. What impact has this had?
  • 33:00 How the Sheffield Sustainability Network will support businesses to reduce their carbon footprints and improve sustainability.
  • 40:04 Gareth’s pies for Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.
  • 42:45 Rob’s firm is now 15-strong, with significant growth plans over the next year too. Social investment could unlock this for the 12-year-old firm, which has also moved beyond kitchens to bathrooms, bedrooms and home offices.
  • 44:20 Advice for folk wanting to work in, launch or run businesses, social enterprises and cooperatives with a purpose – generating income, mitigating risks, and learning from your mistakes.
  • 51:00 Getting in touch with Rob and Gareth.

What Next:

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