When you think about beer making, bread as a key ingredient doesn’t automatically come to mind. But Toast Ale SA, co-founded by Bianca Hansen, is different, using surplus bread from bakeries as the foundation for brewing this delicious beer.
LoA talked to Bianca Hansen this month to learn more about this beer brand with a mission.
What does your company do?
In a country where 33% of food produced goes to waste before it gets to the consumer, and where more than 13 million people go hungry every day, we knew we had to do something to cut this food-waste problem. We collect surplus bread from bakeries that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and brew it into delicious craft beer, turning a waste product into a brand new product. 100% of our profits go to a charity called Soil for Life to target hunger in a sustainable way. Unemployed South Africans are trained through this charity to become home food gardeners so that they can grow their own food and are able to feed their families forever.
"We collect surplus bread from bakeries that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and brew it into delicious craft beer, turning a waste product into a brand new product."
What inspired you to start your company?
Tristram Stuart, an international award-winning author, speaker, campaigner, and expert on the environmental and social impacts of food production. He created Toast Ale in the UK, in 2015. All the UK's profits go to Feedback, the charity Tristram founded, which aims to put a stop to food waste. Tristram was inspired by the Brussels Beer Project, who created Babylone with bread that would otherwise be wasted based on an ancient Babylonian recipe – making beer out of bread is an “innovation” that may be as old as bread itself. From the dynasties of Toast Ale UK, we’ve bringing the goodness to the country of diverse hipsters, and beer lovers, to turn South Africans into Heroes, with Toast Ale South Africa. Toast Ale is an award winning beer brewed using surplus fresh bread that would otherwise be wasted. Considering the high number of South Africans going hungry everyday because of our high unemployment rate, it leaves many people without a sustainable source of food. With so much food going wasted and so many people going hungry in South Africa alone, Toast Ale was an easy and impactful solution.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Toast Ale is the easiest and most delicious charity work you will ever do. With every bottle made with the equivalent of 1 slice of surplus bread, and 100% of profits going to empowering unemployed South Africans, everyone can be a HERO, simply by choosing Toast.
"Making beer out of bread is an “innovation” that may be as old as bread itself."
"Toast Ale is the easiest and most delicious charity work you will ever do."
Tell us a little about your team
Bianca Hansen is the dynamic team lead, taking Toast Ale SA to new heights by telling Toast’s story, and using her experience in marketing & communication management. Jaen Beelders is the second in command and handles finances as well as operations. Three shareholders act as consultants in the industry for team Toast Ale SA.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I was in my second year abroad while funding my way around the world, when I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I then started my degree at the University of Cape Town and started my first business in my second year, the operations of which I now perform under ReplicART Trust. The idea around ReplicART is that in South Africa we are very disconnected to the strong art culture that most of the world has close access to. Coupled with a very weak basic education system, there is little way for the majority of South Africans to have their education nurture creativity and innovative minds. How then can we expect our children to come up with creative solutions to our every day problems? Simply, we cant. That is why with ReplicART, we teach a combination of creative problem solving and design thinking using art as the platform. There is so much evidence that art can improve the way children learn. I am all about providing channels of access.
In my third year at university, I took charge of a one-man startup called Afrigarde which trains and employs unskilled women to create ndebele inspired neck pieces. I learnt a lot and during my year with the business, the brand grew tremendously. It went from unknown to being in 4 new stores, having a gallery launch, featuring on 2 television programs, two runway shows in Italy and South Africa as well as exporting to Australia, Turkey and Italy.
My mom started her own company after she was retrenched, saying I inspired her to take the leap. My mother hasn't necessarily always been entrepreneurial, however she has taught me exactly what dedication, perseverance and hard work looks like. In these earlier startup days of Toast Ale, I have to work in retail on the weekend to survive during the week. However, I am focused full-time on Toast Ale and it's expansion into South Africa as well as neighbouring African countries. I am planning ReplicART Trust's first mobile exhibition for later this year. It will create awareness for the young African children who grow up too soon, having to provide for their families and hustle to survive. I will then use the influence that this exhibition creates as a platform to get funding for ReplicART's school program to enter it's first few schools in the Western Cape.
Ultimately, social entrepreneurship is my thing.
"With every bottle of beer made with the equivalent of 1 slice of surplus bread, and 100% of profits going to empowering unemployed South Africans, everyone can be a HERO, simply by choosing Toast Ale."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Firstly, I want to be able to sell 24000 litres of Toast Pale Ale in 2018 - this means we will save 2000kg of bread from being thrown away by bakeries. We also want to get at least 200 restaurants to join our mission and order Toast Ale as part of their socially responsible offering. Secondly, I want to increase the amount of impact we have in terms of food waste reduced and lives changed). Thirdly, I want to be able to start a movement and a strong brand that people recognise and want to be part of - essentially, I want to create loyalty with our customers. Our bread partner is Knead Bakery - a national craft bakery franchise, our brewing partner is Devils Peak Brewery - one of South Africas top 3 craft beer breweries, and our charity partner is Soil for Life.
BCom management student Bianca Hansen almost faced academic exclusion in her first year of study, but she persevered. Three years later, she now runs two successful businesses. After matriculating in 2010, Hansen was excited to leave home and explore the world. She spent her December holiday completing a TEFL course to teach English abroad.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
As a social entrepreneur, having planned to have my business actions benefit the environment and human beings, and actually seeing this positive impact down the line, is the most satisfying feeling. It's this real and tangible long-term value that my actions are creating in the lives of those around me, that motivates me to keep going during those difficult times. As an entrepreneur there are definitely a lot of said difficult times.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Persevere. There will be many obstacles, usually everyday, and people who don't see or believe your vision. If you have put the work in to develop your idea, then it’s your job to see it through and make it a reality.
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Why LoA loves it….
At Lionesses of Africa, we love those women entrepreneurs who want to make a real difference to the lives of others and to the environment through the businesses and brands they create. Bianca Hansen is a social entrepreneur force to be reckoned with as she takes on the expanding niche beer market in South Africa with a high impact, environmentally conscious new beer brand - turning bread into a delicious new beverage. This is definitely a brand to watch over the coming months. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa