"Learn how to say no. We do too much..."

Founder of Mazi Mas Nicki Kopcke warns social entrepreneurs about the impact of burnout and urges her peers to seek out opportunities to include each other in their supply chains at the NatWest SE100 Insight event in London.

The first NatWest SE100 Insight event of 2016 saw a smorgasbord of speakers from across the social enterprise spectrum deliver a mix of essential information and honest anecdotes for and from an audience of social entrepreneurs.

Nicki Kopcke (pictured above), founder of Mazi Mas, told the compelling story of her social enterprise, which ultimately seeks to empower women to use their culinary skills to start their own business. Mazi Mas was inspired by her godmother, who was denied a similar opportunity due to education, language and her husband’s expectations after emigrating from Greece to the US.

The social enterprise has engaged migrant women from many different countries to cater in pop-up restaurants, and there will soon now be a permanent venue for Mazi Mas as it seeks to move the model to the next stage.

Why has Kopcke sought to create this business? “Financial independence is the number one factor in equality,” she said. Kopcke went on to describe some of the social benefits of her business. It offers new arrivals the place in a communty that might then go on to provide both friend and work opportunities outside of the home. Crucially, the enterprise makes immigrants feel valued and integrated into society.

Describing herself as an 'accidental social entrepreneur', she told the audience she was reticent to share her experience as she “felt no wiser than I did at the beginning”. Her presentation was characterised by a frankness about the workload social entrepreneurs tackle and she offered insights about how to manage that: “Learn how to say no. We do too much and we all think we can do more than we can. Saying no every now and again will allow you to pace yourself. This is not a sprint. I burn out every few months and that hurts our business, rather than benefits it.”

We should have each other in our supply chains; we should all be trying to buy from social enterprises

She went on to urge her fellow social entrepreneurs to buy from each other wherever possible: “We are businesses after all. We should have each other in our supply chains; we should all be trying to buy from social enterprises.” Kopcke also saw value in meeting her fellow social entrepreneurs: “It’s energising – it gives me faith. It keeps me going.”

Following Kopcke's inspiring start to the day, delegates were offered a wealth of advice from experts across a range of business areas. Governance, choosing the right business advice, getting your story out to the public and the many advantages of measuring your impact were all up for discussion. Look out for more coverage online soon.


The NatWest SE100 Index is an online database of social ventures, ranked and scored according to their growth and social impact. Social ventures on the Index are invited to attend a number of events throughout the year to up their business know-how and network with likeminded entrepreneurs. To find out more about signing your venture up to the Index, click here.

Photo credit: Ollie Whittall