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Sustainable tableware company receives Growth Hub business support

Friday 18th December 

The Growth Hub has provided business support to a sustainable tableware company. Palm Life produces biodegradable tableware from natural palm leaves.

Adil Delwar, CEO, explains: “The main concept is that we upcycle waste, right now our main product is a palm leaf plate. Once the leaves naturally fall to the ground, we pick them up and we just wash them and give them a new life by transforming them into different shapes and sizes. However, we don’t use any chemicals or additives when we make them, making it 100% natural and eco-friendly.” The company’s main aim is “to replace single use plasticware; we are aiming to grow as a company, the idea started off as just tableware but now we are trying to replace as many single use products as we can”.

The events industry has experienced a drastic hit due to COVID-19, which has had a negative result for Palm Life. Adil explained: “My products are usually only sold when there are big events with people like festivals, exhibitions, charity events, birthday parties, engagements – events where people are required to be in one place.” With restrictions on public gathering and social distancing measures in place, there has been a decrease in customer need for his products, he goes on to say: “The situation now is that there are barely any events going on so there is less of a need for my products. Hence, I’m trying to see how I can revive my business.”

Adil plans for Palm Life to “expand their product range and to develop some new eco-friendly products” and this potentially means directing the focus to the food and hospitality industry. He says: “I am working with the University of Birmingham to see if we can create a takeaway box using leaves. The takeaway industry is booming meaning the number of takeaway boxes that are required is going up and so is the usage of plastic, foil, paper, and Styrofoam. We want to replace those single use products with our products.”

Designing and developing a brand-new product requires funding, and that is why Adil approached the Growth Hub and spoke to Silvia Gaplovska, the Growth Hub’s Innovation Account Manager, who is also a Business Navigator and Account Manager for Bruntwood SciTech. “Silvia introduced me to a number of people” including Vernon Hogg and Craig O’Donnell.

Vernon Hogg is the GBSLEP Growth Hub's Access to Finance Account Manager; he supports our early and onward growth stage businesses with investment support. Adil (CEO, Palm Life) said: “Vernon Hogg has recommended funding and grants, they may not be grants for us but there may be loans that fit my criteria – Vernon has explained all of this to me.” Silvia has also suggested funding programmes such as Innovation Vouchers at Aston University and the Business Growth Programme 2.

Craig O’Donnell is the GBSLEP Growth Hub's Food & Drink sector specialist; he offers advice and guidance to businesses in that industry across the Greater Birmingham & Solihull region. Adil believes that Craig will have the connections to help him with his environmentally friendly takeaway box as well as his existing tableware products: “Craig is connecting me to his clients, he is doing matchmaking for me. Since he knows I manufacture these items, he is trying to find people in the catering industry and the hospitality industry that will benefit from my products.”

Adil has been impressed with how the Growth Hub team has endeavoured to build a relationship with him, ensuring that he is able to cope with the pressures that coronavirus has inflicted on business leaders: “In this pandemic, for me as a start-up owner, things have been very difficult. When I spoke to Craig, we connected, it was more than just business, he was trying to understand what was going on with me and how I’m managing everything.” He continued: “I think we need that kind of support rather than ‘okay what do you need, do you need a grant… okay bye!’ it was more than that, there is a relationship that he’s trying to create with me on a personal level.”

Adil (CEO, Palm Life) has appreciated the encouragement and commitment that the Growth Hub provides to its clients: “Craig said, ‘you have my number so reach out whenever you need to, whatever we can do, we will try to help you’ and that reassurance is important. The Growth Hub has been supportive and when you speak to them you feel that they genuinely want to help you, they have the willingness to support and develop my business in any way they can. This made it easier for me; it’s been nice to have people making sure I’m okay, not just my business, because I’m the one that owns the business which is definitely an important factor, I’m grateful to the Growth Hub for that.”

If your business needs support in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic or needs guidance for expansion and growth, the GBSLEP Growth Hub is here for you. The expert and valuable advice that was provided to Palm Life, can also be provided to you, ensure you contact one of our accredited business advisers or sector specialists today.

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