The concept behind Auckland-based social enterprise Eat My Lunch is a simple one. Buy a lunch and a kiwi-kid in need gets one for free. But there’s a level of complexity behind the scenes to ensure its sustainable future – from carefully planning menus to ensure zero-waste kitchen to thorough financial forecasting.

It’s a concept New Zealanders are getting right behind, from singer, Lorde to local politicians. The social enterprise quickly reached a level of success its creators weren’t expecting.

When Eat My Lunch opened it’s doors in June 2015, founders Iaan Buchanan and his partner Lisa King launched the business from their family home.

“At the outset we thought we would make about 50 lunches a day. In our first week we did. But in our second week we made 200 and in our third week 400,” said Iaan Buchanan. “The rate of growth was exponential, which caught us a bit off guard. We had to adapt really quickly.”

Now, just over a year on, and over 200,000 lunches have now been given to kids in low decile schools as a result, with around 1,200 free school lunches delivered every day. But there is plenty of growth to go yet.

Automating manual processes

As well as moving to a new, bigger premises and hiring more staff, Eat My Lunch also harnessed technology to take care of some of the admin, which wasn’t sustainable as the social enterprise grew.

Iaan moved from manual systems, including making individual payments to suppliers, to a more automated way of operating. Using an integration between Xero and Receipt Bank he’s been able to completely streamline how he pays bills.

“Now that we have Receipt Bank all invoices come out electronically. I can authorise payment on them and batch download say 50 transactions at a time, and pay them in one hit It literally saves around 6- 8 hours a week.”

That’s time he says he can now spend adding value to his business, like focusing on growth of his enterprise and managing people – rather than on administration.

“Now everything is electronic, there are no more hard copies of electronic receipts to wade through. I can quickly pull up a specific invoice and see a due date, and the history. It’s a massive value add for a small business owner.”