It’s been a hectic three years for Nottingham-based Matt Parfitt. Back in 2020, Matt won our Incubator Competition with Radiant Cleaners a cleaning enterprise with a mission to employ those facing barriers to work. Since then he’s gone on to found a network of sustainable, commercially competitive, and socially responsible businesses.
“I can honestly say we wouldn’t be where we are today without Cinnamon Network,” says Matt, founder of Grace Enterprises which was established in 2017 to ‘transform lives through supportive employment through sustainable businesses.’
Radiant Cleaners was the first of those businesses and, as Matt explains, it’s been a busy few years.
Back in November 2020 at the Cinnamon Incubator Competition Final, Radiant Cleaners were recovering from a tough year. Successive lockdowns led to canceled contracts and great uncertainty for the social enterprise. “We’d lost nearly all our work in April and May,” explains Matt.
Growth and recognition
Today it’s quite a different story. In the year after they won the Incubator Competition, the team grew beyond belief and won major new contracts with businesses across the city.
“It feels like recognition that what we’re doing really works. It proves that you can take the least, the last and the lonely and you can build a business,” says Matt.
As winners of the Incubator Competition, Radiant Cleaners won a development grant of £30,000 and joined the two-year Cinnamon Incubator teaching and mentoring programme.
“Having the development grant made a huge difference,” continues Matt. “It meant that we could spend money on an office team to free me up to work on developing new business.”
Beyond the financial support, the Cinnamon Project Incubator has also helped Matt to focus on building a sustainable strategy for growth.
“Everything [on the Cinnamon Incubator Programme] has been bespoke to us. The breadth of the experience of the team is great,” he says.
Winning the Cinnamon Incubator Competition has also opened doors and conversations with potential funders and other business partners including Green Pastures, The Trusted Executive, and fellow incubatees Cambridge PACE.
What Matt is most excited about, however, is the lives being changed on the way. So far, the cleaning business has employed more than 90 people – paying everyone the real Living Wage – and has won the support of major corporate clients.
“One of our new employees is a victim of modern-day slavery,” says Matt. “They’ve been in the UK for a number of years and don’t speak much English – they need a supportive employer.
“In no other circumstances would they be able to find work. However, the head of cleaning on one of our biggest jobs speaks their language, which is incredible. They are now getting paid the real Living Wage and are loving it.”
“It’s been fantastic,” says 58-year-old Karen who has just started working for the team. “I never thought I’d get a job… this has given me purpose in my life, and I feel much better in myself, in terms of mental health. I feel uplifted.”
Grace Enterprises was born
With a thriving cleaning company, Matt felt that God was nudging him to look for other ways to support people into employment.
In 2022, Grace Enterprises added Jubilee Events, which provides marquee hire and event management services across the East Midland, to their portfolio.
As Matt says, “If Jesus were to provide marquee hire, this is how he’d do it.”
And you’ve guessed it – the staff love working for Matt and his team. Glowing praise yet again from employee Anthony, “Best team I have ever worked with. Proper teamwork, useful targeted support, and the nicest people ever.”
God does business
So what’s next? Matt is already working with Cinnamon Recommended Project Green Pastures to explore establishing a biscuit business. Humble Bakes, the third of Grace Enterprises businesses, is due to start trading this year.
The staple of every church cupboard or Christian conference centre, is about to get an ethical makeover. So look out for Humble Bakes alongside your fairtrade coffee and chocolate!
We often hear that God and business don’t mix, but Matt has proved that running a business on Christian principles is not just economically viable, but also hugely rewarding.
And Matt is not alone. Last year, Matt has also found time to film a 12-part series for the Christian TV channel TBN looking at Christian social entrepreneurs across the UK. The series, which features a number of Cinnamon friends including, The Healthy Church Initiative, Just Ice, Lyrics and Lunch, and Green Pastures, airs on Sunday 16 April at 7pm a
Catch it on TBN by CLICKING HERE. It’s well worth a watch if you are looking for some uplifting viewing this spring.
You can also take a look in more detail at the great work of Grace Enterprises.