Opportunity Knocks has three social enterprises which provide a revenue stream in addition to meaningful and gainful employment for the Warriors. They are Knockout Pickles, the Warrior Catering Company and connected to both is the OK Farm.
A social enterprise is a business created to further a social purpose in a financially sustainable way. At Opportunity Knocks, we created our social enterprise for two primary reasons:
- To augment the revenue stream from our programs so that we would become more financially self-sustaining.
- To provide opportunities for Warriors to practice important vocational skills in a meaningful employment setting.
Like most things at OK, each of our businesses developed organically out of our Warrior-focused program efforts in the culinary arts. As planning, shopping and meal prep are integral components of all our programs, it was a natural extension that our enterprise efforts would capitalize on these important life skills. It was also imperative that our Warriors would be involved in all facets of the business operation, from sales and marketing to production and distribution, so that such skills could be utilized in the pursuit of other vocational interests.
WARRIOR MADE, WARRIOR APPROVED
Knockout Pickles (KOP) is our artisanal pickle business that started in 2014. In addition to offering employment for our Warriors and a supplemental revenue stream to OK, we also set out to craft a really dill-icious pickle! Under the direction of our Culinary Director, Joe Hart, we developed a recipe, production method and canning technique that could be utilized by our Warriors and scaled as the business grew. In our first year, we sold 400 jars of pickles at special events and the holiday season. Today, we are selling bulk buckets to four restaurants as well as individual jars at four retail outlets in our local community.
FROM OUR FARM, TO OUR TABLE AND JARS
In the spring of 2016, we turned a weed-filled field off Madison Street into a lush, handicap-accessible urban garden and affectionately call this outdoor oasis the ‘OK Farm’.
When we initially conceived of the OK Farm, the primary purpose was to give the Warriors a role in the local sustainable food movement by creating a ‘seed to jar’ experience with our Knockout Pickle production. However, as the growing season unfolded, we quickly realized that this operation could provide a farm to table system within the Opportunity Knocks programming (cooking classes, lunch/meals, pickles) as well as throughout the local community in the seasons ahead.
MEANINGFUL WORK AND EXPERIENCE
Warrior Catering provides catering service to local private events. While we are excited about this operation, we continue to work on scale relative to our resources in this area. We believe that with the inclusion of fresh produce from the farm, our business will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.