When it comes to discussing ‘disruptors’ in business, it’s women like Ronni Kahn who deserve more credit for shifting the status quo.
She’s not a tech guru. She’s not leading a shift to AI. Nor is she creating a digital enterprise that will automate everything we know about business.
But she did see a problem – one that had long been an obvious one to note but an easy one to ignore: the volume of food being wasted, and the surplus of people who don’t have enough to eat.
Kahn founded Oz Harvest back in 2004 in order to disrupt the fact that one third of food that is wasted annually.
She appeared on a ‘new investor’ panel at the Yahoo Finance All Investors Summit last week and while not exactly new to her for-purpose business (which will celebrate 15 years in 2019), she’s the kind of ‘new investor’ we could use a lot more of these days.
— Angela Priestley (@angelapriestley) September 26, 2019
Oz Harvest now rescues 180 tonnes of food each week more than 3000 donors (including supermarkets, corporate events, farmers and hotels), delivering more than 110 million meals across Australia. They’re not seeing any slowdown in demand, with more than four million Australians struggling with food insecurity. Re-purposing perfectly good food that was otherwise destined for the bin not only helps those who don’t have healthy and nutritious meals to eat, but also prevents it ending up in landfill.
In terms of disruption, Kahn was instrumental in seeing legislation changed in four states in Australia that had previously prevented food donors from supplying excess food, which means companies and registered businesses all around the country are protected from liability when donating their excess food to OzHarvest.
When asked where millennials should be investing, she said: “Wherever you’re going to invest in has to have the most positive impact on people and the planet.”
When asked how to grow a sustainable and scalable business, she mentioned transparency, generosity, gratitude and an ability to bring together a team where people know they’re valuable, valued and making an impact.
When asked the skills that have helped her build her business, she said resilience, focus, never giving up and ignoring the naysayers.
She added that trust is more important for business than ever before, and that includes building a personal brand that people can trust and go to. “I’m in the for purpose sector but if people want to know about climate change or food waste they call me, it’s about building your own expertise and trust around very important subjects tat affect all of us.”
Kahn was joined by Airwallex co-founder and President Lucy Liu on the panel.
Asked about some of the skills she’s learnt, she said that over time she’s learnt the value of priorities – and particularly how to prioritise and delegate. She also said founders need to evolve over time as much as their business does.