Hall of Fame Alumni
About Me - My Biography
OzHarvest was founded in November 2004 when event’s organiser, Ronni Kahn wanted to make a significant contribution to society. Stunned by the amount of food wasted by the hospitality industry, she decided to do something about it.
Inspired by AmericaHarvest, a charity that had been operating successfully for over 20 years in New York, Ronni brought the food-rescue model back to Sydney.
Backed by the Macquarie Foundation which provided initial funds and Goodman, which provided the first OzHarvest van and an office space, OzHarvest was finally up and running.
Ronni was instrumental in changing the existing legislation across four states that had prevented food donors from supplying excess food. Now companies and registered businesses around Australia are protected from any liability when donating quality excess food to OzHarvest under the Civil Liabilities Amendment Act and Health Acts.
OzHarvest collected and delivered its first meal on 3 November 2004 and in its first month delivered 4,000 meals to 14 shelters using one van. OzHarvest now delivers over 420,000 meals each month with a fleet of 19 vans to more than 500 charities across Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Adelaide, Brisbane and more recently in Melbourne. Since its inception, over 17 million meals have been delivered to women, children and men in need while also having rescued over 5,000 tonnes of food from ending up as landfill and waste.
Ronni Kahn has been recognised as a leader in the fields of entrepreneurship, social impact and innovation and has been awarded with numerous achievements for her work and commitment to the community, some of which include:
- Veuve Clicquot Initiative for Economic Development Award 2012
- Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012
- Australia’s Local Hero, Australian of the Year Awards 2010
- InStyle Woman of Style Award – Community /Charity category 2011
- Enriched List by American Express in 2010
Ronni Kahn is the founder and CEO of OzHarvest. After more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, she decided it was time to make a change – one that would allow her to make a difference in people’s lives and give greater purpose to her own. She sought to make a contribution to society and support those in need as well as the environment.
Having worked closely with the hospitality industry as the head of an event management company, Ronni saw first-hand the large quantities of good food going to waste. She saw an opportunity to capture that food and give it away at no cost to charities supporting men, women and children across Australia. The idea for OzHarvest was thus born.
After extensive research into other food rescue organisations worldwide, and with the assistance of like-minded friends and colleagues, a business model for OzHarvest was developed. In November 2004, OzHarvest officially began operations in Sydney with one van. Today, they collect and redistribute more than 5 million meals a year to more than 410 charities across Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney.
What was a modest vision has now been realised on a massive scale – more than 15 million meals have been distributed and more than 5 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill since the company’s inception.
OzHarvest embodies Ronni’s professional and personal values, and her success has been contingent upon the culture she fosters within her business. It is the one key learning of her career that she would pass onto others.
“Attract and hire people who match the culture of your business – your success is dependent on the quality and energy of those that surround you.”
Strategies for Success
Ronni’s Top 5 Strategies for Success:
- Define what success means to you- so that you know what you are trying to achieve.
- Align your strategies with your values.
- Be passionate about pursuing your beliefs.
- Step out of your comfort zone – dare to take risks with a clear outcome in mind.
- Be the person you want others to be.