Note: Some of the figures in this article have been updated.
A Guelph-based environmentally-friendly business has raised over $500,000 that will go toward expansion in other cities.
A Friendlier Company (AFC), which was started during the pandemic by female entrepreneurs and co-owners Kayli Dale and Jacqueline Hutchings, has made a big splash in the take-out food industry by providing green takeout dishes to restaurants.
Hutchings and Dale recently completed a successful pilot project with Skip The Dishes that offered customers the option of choosing sustainable food containers instead of single-use containers that can be harmful to the environment in the long-term.
“When we started out, I don't think we realized just how much people would love it and want this product,” said Hutchings. “We started in Guelph, with about three restaurants in November of last year. And as we continued selling to Guelph, we started to notice there was other people in other cities that also wanted to get involved.”
Both Hutchings and Dale were students at the University of Waterloo and studied abroad in Sweden for a semester. Dale said their circular economy inspired AFC and Guelph was a natural choice for launching their business.
“The community as a whole was super welcoming of the idea,” said Dale. “So there was just a ton of resources for us here because people really understood what we were trying to do.”
Dale added that being a part of the Our Food Future program, and having the University of Guelph as a support system, has contributed to the success of A Friendlier Company.
Dale and Hutchings then started working with restaurants in Kitchener and Waterloo after seeing success in the Guelph region. However, AFC has expanded to include a variety of places across Southern Ontario including London, Stratford, Elora, Fergus, Hamilton, Grand Bend and Cambridge.
“We naturally kind of gravitated toward Kitchener-Waterloo first, because that's where we went to school, and we felt very comfortable there,” Hutchings said. “But then we were approached by other municipalities asking us to please come there because they had a huge takeout problem. They noticed the waste in their communities, and they wanted to do something about it, but they just couldn't find anything that they felt good about.”
AFC has worked through a round of fundraising that raised over $500,000 in pre-seed money that will help expand their reach and accelerate their growth even further.
“We just need to double down on growth because we have so many areas that want us to go there and support them and so many people in restaurants reaching out to us all the time,” said Dale. “We've got a big waitlist. So, this is really going to allow us to expand into those areas and grow really quickly to be able to support more people to reuse and just create even more impact.”
AFC has reused over 36,000 plastic containers and diverted 4,600 lbs of waste in landfills since starting in at the onset of the pandemic, but Hutchings said that provided them even more drive to succeed in their green initiative.
“It was definitely something that we felt passionate about tackling and with the COVID pandemic, it was perfect timing for us to tackle this problem,” said Hutchings. “You know, everyone transitioned to takeout and there's a huge rise in that waste associated with the takeaway market.”
Anyone looking to get involved, or learn more about AFC can do so at www.afriendliercompany.ca.