YGAP CEO & social entrepreneur Elliot Costello – Driving Innovation through Social Change.

Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet podcast series

Interview #23 – Elliot Costello.

Annnnd I am flying!!!! Just walked out of Feast of Merit in Richmond (Australia) and having one of those moments where it all makes sense… I’ve just punched out a podcast with Australian social entrepreneur, ygap co-founder & CEO, Elliot Costello… wow.. that is the whole reason I do what I do with the Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet podcast.

I came across ygap a 3-4 years  when one of my friends introduced me to a gentleman by the name of Alby Tomassi, one of ygap’s founding members, who was looking to bring social media into his business and Hot & Delicious Group ending up driving the social media for a wonderful Melbourne pizzeria and Italian restaurant in St Kilda with the most delicious wood-fire pizzas called The Banff.

I had a wonderful time running The Banff’s social (you can read an article I wrote about it & see a few photos I shot on Broadsheet) and even though I haven’t seen Alby for a while, when I started this podcast I knew I wanted to reach out to him and tell the story of ygap.

Now, for those of you who haven’t heard of ygap before, ygap are an incubator for social change. They are a not-for-profit enterprise focused on locally driven development and their vision is to empower communities disadvantaged by poverty to be self-sustainable – believing that the best ways to answer poverty is by backing and supporting the local people. The ygap program finds and enables impact entrepreneurs in developing countries like Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda and India, then provides them with accelerator training, connects them with a range of networks and financially supports them to grow and scale the individual’s initiative. It’s all about finding those early stage entrepreneurs -people with big dreams lacking resource, then working with them to bring their concepts to life and empowering them take those ideas to scale. Such a wonderful approach!

The social enterprise initiatives that fund the ygap program and that they pride themselves on, are innovative projects like the 5 cent campaign, Feast of Merit and The Polished Man.

5 cent campaign is a campaign that runs across the month of May – Did you know there are currently $150m in 5coins in Australia that in many real life situations are effectively a useless denomination of currency – parking machines won’t accept them, vending machines won’t accept them, our public transport system ticketing machines won’t accept them… so ygap have been working to put 5 cent coins to good use. Every May they work with a range of partners and ygap ambassadors to raise awareness and encourage Australians to collect their 5 cent coins to help make an impact through social change. So far ygap and the Australian population have collected $7.9m in 5 cent pieces in a few short years, which is mind-blowing and the best part about the campaign [at least until 5 cent pieces become obsolete and we have to switch to a 10 cent campaign (my words not El’s) ] is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving, because every year the coins are set free into circulation again allowing us to begin again every year.

Apart from 5 cent campaign, Elliot and I chat about Feast of Merit, ygap’s restaurant and cafe that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a wholly owned subsidiary of ygap that invests every single dollar  of profit back into social enterprise. We recorded today’s interview upstairs in ygap’s offices and so I had to walk through the Feast of Merit before and after the interviews and wow! What a scene! I’ve put some photos up on the blog as you can see and what a fantastic spot! The decor, menu and vibe are just sublime! Definitely heading back over the next few weeks and by the time I left at 6pm, Feast of Merit was already chockablock with the Thursday dinner crowd.

Now by the time this podcast is live, I believe we’re also going to be the first to announce (if the last few days have gone according to plan for Elliot Costello) the launch of Social Hub, a community driven project created by ygap where not-for-profits and social entrepreneurs can gather, work and utilise the benefits of Social Market Place, a physical space where social entrepreneurs can trial their products on a short-term and rotating basis in Melbourne. One of the toughest things when starting a small business is pulling together funds to survive and being able to surround yourself with people who are in the same path, but a few steps ahead who can provide support, advise and inspiration to keep pushing, so this is a wonderful initiative and in fact, the first of it’s type in Melbourne.

So what started as a volunteer-based organization 7 years ago, ygap has grown from Elliot as it’s first employee 2 years ago to over 40 employees today, so because of it’s scale now, ygap not only drives amazing projects around the world and is a rich source of inspiration as a catalyst for social change globally, but provides young Australians with jobs and guess what… there are more Australian initiatives brewing. So multi-faceted!

And if you want real stories, we also chat about one of their success stories, Lebo, an inspiring lady in north western South Africa who wanted to start a shelter for abused women in a province where 70% of women, yes 70% of women experience domestic violence. As a result of ygap’s spark accelerator program and her own drive and determination, Lebo now works with over 12,000 women in her province with a range of social enterprise businesses. All by empowering someone with a burning desire for change. Just wonderful!

Anyway, let’s jump into the podcast… some fascinating stories and inspiring insight into a young Australian Elliot Costello who has made it his life’s work to make a positive impact on the lives of others and inspire us all to want to be more, to do more…


Click here for magic in your ears 🙂    

Free Download: Elliot Costello (social entrepreneur & co-founder Ygap) on ‘Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet’

Android users – you’ll need to download the free Podcast Republic app then search Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet.

Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet is weekly podcast where we interview inspiring individuals and successful entrepreneurs from around the planet across a range of industries (incl. music, film/tv, fashion, travel, comedy and more) about what makes them tick as people and drives their hunger for success.

For more on ygap, 5 cent campaign, Feast of Merit and Polished Man head to:


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Dan Wilkinson works as a Manager, Marketing Strategy & Analysis – Social Media at SapientNitro Australia and is founder of music industry biz, Hot & Delicious Group.
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