Inside a social enterprise: MOA Coffee Co
At a glance
- Business: MOA Coffee Co
- Where: Newcastle, NSW, and shipping nationally
- Charity partner: 50% of profits to the LifeChanger Foundation
- Top insight: Business and doing good can go together from day one; you don’t need to wait until the business grows to do good.
- Long-term view: Make your contribution sustainable.
- #1 tip: Have a clear purpose, and reflect it strongly throughout the whole organisation – from branding to product and service.
When entrepreneurial duo Lyndell and Darren Fogarty were searching for their next project, they were certain of only one thing: it had to do good in the world.
The husband-and-wife team had previously built a successful national outsourced HR business, but had wanted to do something philanthropic for a long time.
“We’d always envisaged it would be separate to business,” says Lyndell.
Darren had just stepped away from HR and, in 2020 while the couple was considering what was next, their youngest daughter Ally was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“While her tumour is not aggressive, it has changed her life and we have a long way to go before she is in the clear,” Lyndell says. “That experience made us really think about what we want our next 10 years to be measured by.”
That drive to ‘measure up’, plus a passion for coffee and a desire to help the LifeChanger Foundation, which provides skills, education, pathways and resources to help young Australians build positive self-identity, saw the Fogartys launch a purpose-driven coffee subscription brand, MOA.
With 50 per cent of profits going directly to the LifeChanger Foundation from day one, as well as the Fogartys volunteering their time for the organisation, the purpose-driven business was officially launched on 1 October 2021 – by happy coincidence, International Coffee Day.
For a socially-focused coffee enterprise, the whole product has to stand up to scrutiny, and MOA has teamed up with fellow Newcastle-based business, coffee roaster Sprocket, to create its blends.
“They have a carbon-conscious roasting process with a purpose-built roasting machine – it was created by a chemical engineer and is fueled by coffee grinds rather than traditional gas,” Lyndell explains.
“The beans are ethically sourced, which was really important to us, and we’ve just found new packaging that is home compostable and the boxes we use are made from recycled cardboard.”
All of these operational decisions that prioritise sustainability are important now as investments in the future of the planet, and they are also an investment in the future of the business, as MOA will work towards B Corp Certification when they can fund the process.
As well as selling direct to consumers via either one-off purchases or subscription, MOA leverages existing relationships in HR to partner with corporates looking to bolster their environmental, social and governance strategies. For example, MOA has just partnered with a mutual bank that will send new home loan customers into their new abodes with MOA.
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Living brand mission, from the grounds up
While Lyndell and Darren are playing key roles in driving the new business forward, their middle daughter, 18-year-old Olivia – Liv – is also heavily involved, having decided to defer her place at university to focus on building a brand from the ground up.
“We call her the CEO,” laughs Lyndell. “We’ve got a new boss. She’s driving all of our marketing and product choice – every single product you see on the website, she’s been instrumental in. She’s taken over a lot of the work with our socials provider, and she’s very good at building relationships with our charity partner.”
Alongside her product and marketing focus, Liv is Chair of the LifeChanger Foundation’s newly established Youth Advisory Committee – a testament to the passion to help others that runs through the veins of the family.
Choosing the right charity partner
“LifeChanger’s cause aligns with the impact we want to make,” says Lyndell. “Its mission is to ‘awaken the hero’ in kids who need help.”
The LifeChanger ambassador lineup reads like a who’s who of Australian sport, with Herb Elliott, Shae Brown, James Hanson and Nick Maxwell among a stellar cast committed to helping the country’s young people.
LifeChanger was founded by the former AFL player and coach Scott Watters, and former champion ironman, Trevor Hendy.
“They are genuinely good people who want to make a difference,” Lyndell says.
Lyndell’s advice to social entrepreneurs
MOA’s strong social purpose is underpinned by steely entrepreneurial determination. This is a serious business with fully caffeinated ambitions – and with online orders flying in, the team’s now looking long-term.
“We want to build a household brand like Who Gives a Crap,” she says. “We want to build that brand that is synonymous with change and quality – that’s our ambition, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Lyndell offers three pieces of advice for others who share her drive:
- Clarity: Have clarity of purpose (MOA’s is ‘enabling communities to thrive’) and ensure it’s reflected in every aspect of the brand – from product to messaging to service.
- Long-term: Whether your reinvestment into society will be monetary, time, other contributions or a combination of both, make sure it is sustainable. It should also be energising and align with who you are and what you want to be known for.
- From day one: Change your mindset about what a social-purpose business is, recognising that any business can find a way to contribute, regardless of size.
“A social-purpose business is commercially driven, with a focus on sustainability and contribution. Some businesses think they have to achieve a certain revenue or profit before they can give back,” Lyndell says.
“For us, the product is a vehicle for us to affect change – it’s a fun product, and delicious product, but it has a higher purpose than that.”
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