Interview with Table for Two
Table for Two (TFT) is an international organization dedicated to addressing global food imbalance. We are cultivating a culture of healthy-dining and the value of sharing by partnering with restaurants to serve TFT-labeled nutritionally balanced dishes. A proportion of the proceeds donated is spent on nourishing poor schoolchildren.
TABLE FOR TWO International was founded in Japan in October 2007 by the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. TFT currently has over 600 participating organizations worldwide including corporations, universities, restaurants, government offices, convenience stores and other food establishments. Since 2008, TFT has been expanding globally, with operations in the US, UK, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Switzerland and a few other European countries (http://www.tablefor2.org/where). To date, TFT has sold over 40 million meals globally.
What was your inspiration to start this organization?
We both really enjoy food – from simple preparations at home, to sharing a meal with friends and family at restaurants. Food is such a universal language that brings people and communities together. This is what Table for Two is about – sharing a meal with friends and family, and at the same time, raising donations for school meals in areas of need.
How long did it take you to setup your business?
It took us around nine months from when we first heard of Table for Two International. The idea was brought to us by Francis Ngai (Founder of Social Ventures Hong Kong). After doing more research, and several conference calls with TFT International, we flew to Japan to meet with the Founder of Table for Two, Masa Kogure. We hit it off with Masa, and from there built a small team for TFT. We then received backing, both network and funding, from Social Ventures HK.
What have you accomplished so far?
TABLE FOR TWO HONG KONG was launched on 25 Nov, 2011. Since then, we have cooperated with 192 outlets of over 60 restaurant brands, including both Chinese and Western cuisines, to serve healthy TFT dishes and to promote a culture of conscious dining and the value of sharing in Hong Kong (our current restaurant partners). All of our donations collected from healthy meals would be used to provide school lunch for hungry kids in rural China and some countries in Africa (our beneficiaries).
How do you go about getting new partners on board?
The first few restaurants were the hardest ones to get on board. Once we found some initial strategic partners (who are still our long term supporters), it was a lot easier for us to find other partners. We warm- and cold- called our potential partners.
How many employees do you have?
3 part-time staff and a handful of volunteers
How are you funded?
We are funded mainly by our restaurant partners through the TFT meal program where a portion of proceeds from TFT dishes will come to us. Separately, we also receive donations from individual supporters and corporates through our events.
What are your biggest challenges in running this organizations?
Our biggest challenge is that both of us have full time jobs. Because we work remotely out of different offices, communication is a challenge sometimes. Also, we are trying to adapt the current TFT International model to fit locally, and that is a challenge where we need to be able to be flexible. Such as donating to local beneficiaries, altering branding to speak more towards local HK population etc.
Who are your go to business mentors in HK?
Social Ventures Hong Kong has provided us with a lot of support. We also consult our advisory panel from time to time; our advisors have a background in business.
How do you promote your organization online and offline?
We use Facebook, email and magazines
What languages is your business in?
For the HK chapter, we use English and Cantonese.
Who did your web design?
Our staff at Social Ventures Hong Kong