THE DREAM of entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn to open a network of social enterprise sandwich shops across the country has taken another step forward.
Mr Littlejohn, who already has two Social Bite shops in Edinburgh, is due to open his first Glasgow outlet in a fortnight at a site in St Vincent Street.
Eventually he hopes to end up with 100 shops in Scotland's city centres.
It's a remarkable success story so far, not only in terms of the pound(s)350,000 turnover achieved and for the pound(s)500,000 per shop target he is aiming for, but in allying a profit-conscious strategy with social inclusion. The Social Bite is run on charity lines, with profits shared between three charities in Scotland and abroad and the shops recruit at least one in four staff from the ranks of the homeless.
"Of our 17 employees, seven were homeless," says the 27-year-old businessman.
Mr Littlejohn certainly has no personal plan to get rich from the Social Bite concept.
As the investor, he draws a salary capped at seven times the wage of the lowest paid employee.
Even if he achieves his target of 100 outlets, his earnings can never rise above pound(s)80,000.
"It's all looking really good for the future," he said. "Expansion into Glasgow has been helped a great deal by the creation of a central kitchen in Livingston, where we can prepare all the food and service the shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
"And what we're finding is that customers like the idea. They are happy to walk past the multinational outlets next door because they like the Social Bite food, but it's also because they know they're putting something back into the community."
It would be hard to bet against Mr Littlejohn's success. The economics graduate, whose father Simon owns a series of restaurants throughout Scotland, ran successful businesses before his epiphany. It came about when he read a book by Professor Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker and Nobel Peace Prize winner who developed the concept of micro-lending, whereby loans are given to the poor with a business idea.
Mr Littlejohn thought hard about how to come up with a profitable business model that helped those who were most socially disadvantaged in Scotland.
Now, his focus is on expansion and content overview, while his partner Alice is area manager.
When asked whether the Social Bite concept could fail he said: "I don't think so, so long as we go at the right speed. And that means not incurring debt. We have to pay our own way."
Mr Littlejohn's dynamism is incontestable; he not only runs the Scottish Business Awards but managed to attract Bill Clinton as speaker last year. And business leaders Brian Souter and Tom Hunter have also backed the young man from Blair Drummond.
But perhaps most importantly, Mr Littlejohn's heart and soul is in the project, highlighted not only by his 6am starts but by an early decision he made. When two young homeless men, Pete and Joe, approached him for work, Mr Littlejohn realised they couldn't work with food after sleeping rough each night. So to break the cycle , he took them home to share his Edinburgh flat until they could earn enough to rent their own home.
"It worked, and they're still working for the Social Bite," says Mr Littlejohn, "although it did get a little cramped in the flat and my relationship with Alice was a bit stretched at times."
He does not see the Glasgow enterprise as a particularly different challenge, adding: The city is the same as Edinburgh in that we have to break people from their routine, from going to Pret or wherever. But once we get them in, we keep them."