About 14 months ago Imagine began a small social enterprise called the British Pie Shop. We teamed up with a Brit living long term in Thailand, to make some of the best savory meat pies in Southeast Asia. As a kid I ate them Saturday evenings while watching 'Hockey Night' in Canada, and it's the kind of taste expats crave. We wanted a real business that earned income and with over 600,000 foreigners in Bangkok it seemed we had a chance at success.
The goal wasn't to line our pockets, but to find an industrious way to pay the bills of running Imagine and support our national staff. Well that initial goal is beginning to be realized. In the past three months we've had some great press, consistent production, and sales are up over 100% year on year. That means we're selling over 1200 pies every month to happy customers. We're aiming to double our production in the next six months. About $1.00 of every pie sale goes to Imagine people and projects that are changing our world. Now that's making a difference.
What's more, customers become friends. They're diplomats, media types, government ministers, and international businesspeople. They're finding out about us, about what we do and why we do it. That provides lots of opportunities to talk about more important things than just pies, and it builds vision for together bringing positive change to communities around us.
The Pie Shop is expanding as well. We now have a retail outlet in Mae Sot, where we have a host of projects, and soon will be bringing the good taste to Myanmar through the Yangon Bakehouse.
An enterprise like this is a new experience for us and a lot of work--mostly on the shoulders of our baking staff and managers Greg and Andrea--but it's a lesson in the potential of social enterprise. Not only do we provide a product that many people enjoy, but we also provide a marketable skill to local people, earn needed funds to cover ministry costs (thus reducing the need for donors to fund administrative costs), and provide a legitimate platform to be in the lives of our community and neighbours. Can a Pie change the world? Well, pies are certainly having an impact in our world.