Haleh Morajev at MetMUnch

This month we have been catching up with Haleh Moravej who was previously nominated for Intrapreneur of the Year at the Celebrating Enterprise Awards 2018. Haleh has been able to create a social enterprise, MetMUnch based at Manchester Metropolitan University who are a IOEE Centre of Excellence. Haleh has won a vast array of awards throughout her career so far including Outstanding Teaching for Employability in MMUnion Teaching Award 2016 and EAUC Green Grown Award 2014. As a senior lecturer in Nutritional Sciences, Haleh strives to provide an exceptional student experience, often breaking the boundaries for what is expected from food based courses. Haleh has been able to understand the importance of business and entrepreneurship across the University and outside of the MMU Business School.

Turning Foodpreneur seems to be on the rise. Passionate graduates with the right enterprise training, mind-set, knowledge, resilience and passion can go from kitchen table to production kitchen in no time. Food is a universal language of connecting people and food and good nutrition is more important than ever. With one in 10 people out of the current global population of 7.4 billion already going hungry, ensuring that everyone has daily access to nutritious food is an ongoing challenge and one that can be solved and tackled by an entrepreneurial mind-set. Diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease are amongst the greatest global health challenges society faces. Understanding how to make the right food choices plays a key role in our health and one area that entrepreneurs can make a huge contribution.

So what is MetMUnch? MetMUnch is a global award-winning, student-led social enterprise based within MMU. The goal of this enterprise is to help promote sustainable, healthy & nutritious food. We were interested to find out what it was that made Haleh want to start this enterprise in the first place and wether she expected it to grow as much as it has done. Haleh believes that Enterprise and Food can often be so closely linked. Giving students the ability to combine the two is an excellent way to not only build knowledge in Food & Nutrition but also build a very valuable entrepreneurial mindset. Some of the work on Haleh’s course is often inspired by IOEE Case Studies & looking forward MMU hope to embed more of the excellent IOEE Membership benefits and IOEE Resources thus allowing students the perfect start-up information when beginning in business and enabling them to take this out into the wider industry upon graduation. MMU have just approved resources which are available on the IOEE Campus for masters students, giving them the perfect foundation for their course.

We asked Haleh about some of the awards MetMUnch has won to date and how these inspire Haleh to continue the work she does – “MetMUnch and I, have received 18 national and international awards and nominations in the past 7 years including MMU Union Best Teacher of the Year 2012; National and International EAUC Green Gown Award Winners in Student Engagement 2014, Manchester Met Green Impact Environmental Hero 2014; UnLtd/ HEFCE SEE Changemakers: Social Enterprise Outstanding Achievement Award 2017 and many more.

Each award creates the next stepping stone helping us on our creative journey. I am proud that the work we carry out with the students has made a positive impact and has gained national and international recognition. As a entrepreneurial academic I am passionate about young people to achieve their full potential and winning a multiple awards has proven to them to not settle for anything less than excellence and if they work hard enough with passion and creativity anything is possible. Every award is an example of staff and students working together to create extraordinary impact locally and nationally.

Here at the IOEE we were curious as to how Haleh came up with the idea of MetMUnch and what it was she expect students to be able to gain from the the project, when asked, Halh had this to say “In the first year, MetMUnch developed its reputation with a series of ‘flash’ interventions & pop-up cafes, in the second year, activities moved into the local community, and in the third year addressed skills and knowledge acquisition through the delivery of workshops to external and internal partners. MetMunch’s story demonstrates how nurturing entrepreneurship and transforming engagement skills for students & staff can enhance student experience, create global citizens & life-wide and life-long education for individuals through foodie fun! MetMUnch won the International and National EAUC Green Gown Awards for Student Engagement in 2014, this was the catalyst to evolve from a successful pop-up into a dynamic, passionate social enterprise that forges commercial and community partnerships. As a social enterprise, MetMUnch is forging a new path to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges and is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s not just an ‘add-on’ to a degree, it’s about developing enterprising, innovative and driven graduates who go on to make their mark on the world.

Evidence indicates that MetMUnch is transformative. Ultimately it builds confidence. Confident students are better learners. It’s incredibly important to me that I’m building inquisitive, intelligent students that become informed, innovative and enterprising graduates. MetMUnch demonstrates my commitment and desire to make a real difference with employability. It’s the thread that runs through my career and demonstrates the best of my dynamic teaching style, learning and social enterprise. It brings together entrepreneurship, nutrition and sustainability – the three pillars of my approach to enhancing knowledge and creating global citizens. I have lead and created an extensive range of activities for students to enhance their creativity, sustainability and employability skills seeing over 250 separate engagement activities that have led to over 70,000 individual interactions with staff, students, communities and external organisations locally and nationally.” Haleh believes that Enterprise and Food can often be so closely linked and giving students the ability to combine the two is an excellent way to not only build knowledge but build a very valuable entrepreneurial mindset. Haleh had this to say on how she see’s Nutritional Sciences and Business Enterprise coming together going forward “As an academic fellow of IOEE I am keen to link research to practice by providing our postgraduate students registering on Manchester Metropolitan Nutrition and Health master courses to all the exceptional resources available at IOEE. My goal is to give our students the practical advice, tools and the confidence to manage their potential  businesses more effectively and more profitably.”