46. Fair Shot

Fair Shot strives to even out the playing field for people with learning disabilities who want to start a career in the hospitality industry.

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Social Impact Award Nominee

In recognition of the startup which is putting purpose ahead of profit, with evidence of a commitment to making the world a better place with its business model.

Startups 100: Social Impact Award

Founder: Bianca Tavella

Year founded: 2021
Website: fairshot.co.uk

Stigma against people living with disabilities is rife in the UK. A staggering 93% of adults with learning disabilities are unemployed, ignored by job centres, managers, and colleagues who lack understanding and support, creating inaccessible work environments.

Fair Shot wants to change that, one cup of coffee at a time. The social enterprise seeks to provide the necessary training and resources for disabled adults who want to embark on fulfilling careers in the hospitality industry.

Prioritising inclusivity over the pursuit of perfectly poured latte art, founder Bianca Tavella began writing the Fair Shot business plan aged 21, after being inspired by her connection to those with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Growing up part of a church that did sign language to all of their songs, I knew a lot of other children similar to my age with learning disabilities

“Growing up part of a church that did sign language to all of their songs, I knew a lot of other children similar to my age with learning disabilities,” she shares with Startups.

“Being so close to these families helped me see their perspective and how testing life truly can be – once you feel someone’s pain, you can’t unfeel it.”

At Fair Shot, trainees with learning disabilities and/or autism rotate to a different catering station each day. Support is available via a job coach who helps with tasks. After a set period, they will ‘graduate’ from the programme, and begin a full-time role working with one of Fair Shot’s many employment partners.

Since inaugurating its first specialty coffee shop in Mayfair in 2021, Fair Shot has helped to funnel 36 employees into their first career role. Each graduate now works full-time for brands like Apple, Goldman Sachs, Soho House, and Burberry. It also officially became a social enterprise, as recognised by Social Enterprise UK, in December 2023.

Being so close to these families helped me see their perspective and how testing life truly can be.

These partnerships are an important part of Fair Shot’s ethos of sustainable employment. To ensure that both employer and employee are fully supported during onboarding, Fair Shot offers the brands access to vital resources like DEI workshops, introduction training for team members and manager, and a discount for the Safeguarding Adults Certificate.

As a result of this empathetic and supportive relationship, 80% of Fair Shot’s employment partners state that they would now hire another neurodivergent person.

Looking ahead, Fair Shot wants to open three more cafes in London in the next five years to keep helping more people with learning disabilities. The startup also wants to strengthen its power of inclusion to challenge society’s perceptions of people with learning disabilities.

When asked to name Fair Shot’s biggest achievement so far, Tavella says: “We have had trainees that have made friends for the first time, received their first paycheck, worked as part of a team, and felt useful for the very first time in their lives,” she recalls.

“We are giving our trainees a chance to have everything they deserve – the right to aspire to a career.”

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