How will Crowdfunding give your business the right start?

 

 

Blog post by Andy Stuart, Consultant at Real Ideas Organisation. Real Ideas Organisation are a delivery partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

Money. It is the fuel for business. Right? Well maybe, but it is not the only reason why you should consider crowdfunding for your business.  Along with fundraising, there are a number of other pay-offs to conducting a crowdfund campaign which are likely to benefit your business if you listen to what the crowd is telling you.

 

Cash:

 

One of the biggest challenges a start-up faces is capital. Getting some money to invest into your idea so that it can become a reality is a very important task and many social entrepreneurs look at crowdfunding because it offers a chance to raise money without many of the restrictions that come from grant funding. Grant funding is often a very necessary part of running a social enterprise, but many operations come unstuck in the early stages by focussing too heavily on which providers might want to support them. Mission creep becomes a real possibility as people consider the demands of the funder over the goals they have as a business. This can have a negative effect on both the operational model of the business and the intended benefits to their community.
By looking at raising money from their community directly, a business will be actively reinforcing its need and will justify its future existence. As long as you listen, a crowdfund will provide more than cash. In fact, 82% of successful campaigns result in further engagement from the community (RL – Crowdfunder UK, August 2019) and other, non-financial contributions such as time, expertise and experience. If you are prepared to be courageous and ask the community for input as well as cash, you can shape your enterprise into something that you know is going to resonate with them. If your mission creeps this way, you can be confident it is going to have both business and community benefit.

 

Profile:

 

It may seem self-evident, but by creating a crowdfund campaign, a business will put itself forward before not just its own community, but much wider. Most successful crowdfunds are run by people who not only create a great offer for donors, but also push it out into the digital world through the whole gamut of social media outlets. There are roughly 45 million social media users in the UK (Avocado Social – Feb 12) which represents over two thirds of the population and of these, around 39 million are active on mobile devices. This means your audience need not simply by confined to your own geographic area. By actively sharing details of your enterprise through your own networks, it will find its way to literally millions of people as it gets spread. If your campaign is interesting and engaging enough, many people will not only hear about it and have the opportunity to contribute, but they will also be able to become potential customers for the future.

 

Validation:

 

The consequence of getting your message out into the world in this way also highlights another key fact that an enterprise should really take heed of. Does anyone actually care about what I am doing? Many social enterprises get caught up in the small world they inhabit and assume that the problems they see and are trying to overcome, are also perceived in the same way by everyone. The reality is, the thing you are trying to do, may not be seen as a problem by as many people as you think. By carrying out a crowdfund, you get the chance to test the market for when you actually go live and need customers for your service or product. This is by no means an exact science and certainly not the reason in isolation to do or not do, but you have to consider if you are on the right track if your campaign doesn’t ignite a response.

 

Focus:

 

A crowdfund campaign will really focus the mind. By considering what is at stake in terms of creating a profile, testing the market and generating some seed funding, the process will really test you as an entrepreneur to see if your heart and you more importantly, your head, is really in it. One of the most important things to remember about running a business is that not everyone can do it. It takes determination, resilience and the ability to accept that things won’t always go your way. If any of these traits are not in your make up, then running a business may not be for you. It is a world of waking up and getting going, hitting the phones and constant emails, and of going to bed checking your phone before dreaming about what you need to do tomorrow. In short, it is really hard.
If you pass this test – and be honest with yourself – then the pieces of the puzzle should begin to fall into place. You will have success in raising start-up capital, you will identify and begin to develop your future audience, you will have evidence that you are not a lone voice and you will have shown resolve to do what it takes to make your venture work.
Good luck.

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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Top Tech Tips to save the Planet (or at least make a very small but valuable contribution).

 

 

Blog post by Helen Vines, Social Enterprise advisor at Cosmic which are a Delivery Partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

Thanks to Sir David, Hugh and Anita and other high-profile figures, climate change and plastic waste is finally rising up our collective consciousness. What can we be doing to take action, especially when we’re dashing about, juggling work and play, and now the summer holidays are upon us? Reduce, Re-use and Recycle is a great mantra to be incorporating into our lives. There are so many great choices we can now make to maximise the positive difference we all need to make.

 

So you’ve packed your bags and are heading off for your break with all the essentials, including your phone. How to while away the spare hours on a train, in a car, at the airport? Here are some quick wins to help you with your environmental credentials, and make simple swaps which can save you money, and the planet’s resources.

 

1 Download https://refill.org.uk and easily find the nearest place to reuse your water bottle, reducing single use plastic waste.

 

2 Change your web brower to https://www.Ecosia.org/ For every 45 searches Ecosia pledge to plant a tree. 80% of Ecosia’s surplus is used to plant trees. You can track progress on their app.

 

3 Search for the best deals and switch to a renewable energy provider via: https://www.simplyswitch.com/. Save money and reduce your use of fossil fuels. https://www.uswitch.com offers the same services.

 

4 Start measuring your own carbon footprint and explore ways to offset the energy you’re using with EcoBuddy www.ecobuddyapp.com. Oroeco does something similar www.oroeco.com.

 

5 Download https://www.paperkarma.com/ and when you get back from your holidays you can simply take a photo of any catalogues or unwanted junk mail in the heap behind the front door and Paperkarma will do the rest, unsubscribing you from any unwanted mail, reducing paper waste and plastic packaging. Genius!

 

There are so many apps out there – we have little excuse not to try a make a difference, even on the go. Do let us know any other that you know of – and have a great summer break.

 

PS. Disclaimer – mentioning these apps does not constitute an endorsement.

 

 

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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Stir to Action festival

 

 

Blog post by Susie Jones, Marketing Officer for the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

From 16 to 18 July myself and Jess Holliland from Dartington School for Entrepreneurs had a stand at the Stir to Action festival which was held just outside Nunney, near Frome in rural Somerset. The first of its kind, the Stir to Action festival is themed around building a new economy and includes inspiring conversations, participatory theatre, live podcasts, interactive workshops, sustainably sourced food, idea surgeries and live music.

 

It was an excellent event with a lot of interesting speakers. We were lucky with the weather, the sun shone the whole time. There was a lot of interest in the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and we made some good contacts including with Cooperative organisations in both Manchester and Taunton. As well as manning the stand I was able to hear some of the talks.

 

Annie Quick from the New Economics Foundation gave a talk Talking about Wellbeing? Talk about Power in which spoke about the Wellbeing Agenda,  how the five ways to wellbeing have proven very popular and the ways in which the Wellbeing Agenda could evolve into the future. She said that it is important that we do not individualise collective problems and that we stop pitting economic against non-economic considerations but instead take a holistic approach to wellbeing.

 

 

 

 

Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council gave a talk New Municipalism during which he spoke about the Preston Model. Preston City Council now procure 80% of their goods and services locally. Future plans include procuring furniture supply, social care and construction locally, and having local government pensions which invest in renewable energy and social housing. He said that their approach has resulted in “a feeling of togetherness and more economic equality.”

 

 

 

 

Other highlights from the event included Richard Bartlett talking about decentralised decision making, Andrew Simms talking about the Green New Deal and a member of staff from Aardman Studios talking about how the organisation has moved to being employee owned and the changes this has meant for individuals within the organisation.

 

We plan to attend the event again next year, and would recommend it to those working in the social enterprise sector looking to engage with other folk passionate about changing the status quo to make way for a fairer, greener and happier world.

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

 

 

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Creating a human economy: the power of purpose properly certified

Blog post by Gareth Hart, Director of Iridescent Ideas and chair of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.

 

We recently attended the  Social Enterprise Mark conference in Birmingham. This annual event brings together people from all over the UK and beyond. The theme was Growth for Good and how certification and standards can help businesses grow, be accountable and transparent.

 

The event kicked off with a key-note speech by Andrew Brewerton, Principal of Plymouth College of Art. In a thought-provoking talk, Andrew challenged us to come up with a ‘proposition’ for our work and life. PCA is a Gold Standard Social Enterprise Mark holder and delivers a mission of creative learning and social justice. Their ten-point manifesto includes statements such as “Making is as important as reading, writing, science and maths;” “Art is not about life, it is about living” and “The purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life.”

 

This was followed by presentations from several social enterprises about their work: County Print Finishers from Oxford talked about the power of transformation that social enterprises can bring to individuals. Yateley Industries from Hampshire described their fantastic history and recent challenges and York St John University presented how a social enterprise university is making a difference by helping to create a healthy economy.

 

Day two started with a challenging talk,  ‘Towards a human economy’ from Alex Maitland from Oxfam. Openly describing some of the issues Oxfam is facing at the moment around sexual misconduct and abuse of power, he delivered a presentation full of facts about world inequality and poverty. Statistics that stood out included that 1% of people on earth have bagged 87% of the wealth; $1.3 trillion was paid in dividends in 2017 and that an estimated $7.6 trillion is hidden in offshore tax havens that evade tax. Alex explained Oxfam’s policy towards trying to procure from businesses that stood for ‘profit, purpose and people.’

 

The next panel session saw Jeremy Nicholls of Social Value International explain how he thought accounting and company law needed to change to help build a fairer economy. We particularly liked the laser like focus Jeremy brought to his proposition about where these changes were needed and how, especially in accountancy, the amendments to regulations were not actually that radical in an industry that is seemingly crying out for transformation.

 

We were then part of a panel debate on the certification process itself. Joined by colleagues from Sweden and Scotland the panel discussed how accreditation provided rigour and accountability. Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People, described their journey from government to an independent social enterprise and how mental heath is a missing component in economic strategy making. Erika Augustinsson from MSI Sweden talked about how social enterprise in Sweden is looking for an accreditation standard to help define and promote the sector.

 

Our take on this debate was how, if the UK wants to develop a more inclusive, prosperous economy, then economic policy should focus on supporting and developing social enterprises. It is social enterprises that are paying fairly, setting up in disadvantaged areas and applying their work and profits to achieving social missions. These missions are locked in and, unlike standard businesses who claim they have ‘purpose’ and are ‘corporately and socially responsible’, the Social Enterprise Mark and other accreditations can prove this and provide a response to any accusation of greenwashing.

 

We ended with a challenge – rather than fighting amongst ourselves to prove who is holier than whom, we need to create a movement of socially responsible businesses – co-operatives, community businesses, social enterprises, trading charities and others should combine to create a powerful force for a more human and wellbeing economy.

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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Management and Leadership Apprenticeships and Social Enterprise

 

Blog post by Steve McLauchlin, Social Investment Manager at Somerset Community Foundation.

 

Besides working with Somerset Community Foundation – managing a social investment fund and supporting delivery of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme – I also work as a lecturer for Bridgwater & Taunton College where my principal focus is delivery of new management and leadership apprenticeship programmes.

 

These separate activities combine effectively in that conversation around opportunities for establishing, developing and growing social enterprises always involves thinking about capacity and capability for effective leadership and management.

 

This is closely followed by discussion around time, money and resources to invest in personal and organisational development – or lack thereof.

 

The new management and leadership apprenticeships are part of the government’s strategy to build core competence in organisations across the UK and have been running for over 2 years now.

 

They remain, however, a bit of a mystery to many – even to those working in larger organisations that are paying a 0.5% levy on payroll of £3m or more.

 

So, it may be no surprise to learn that, currently, there are no representatives from social enterprises on the programmes that I teach.

 

This is, in my view, an opportunity missed as the cost to non-levy paying organisations is just 5% of the total cost. For example, a Team Leader/Supervisor apprenticeship – which takes around 18 months to complete and costs £5000 in total – would actually cost the organisation £250.

 

There is then the individual and organisational commitment to completing a programme of work to build a portfolio of evidence of competence around defined areas of skill, knowledge and behaviour and this may include study for a qualification such as a Diploma in Management and Leadership.

 

The benefits to individual and organisation are many and varied – ranging from increased confidence in decision making through improved communication to tangible improvement in individual and team performance.

 

This leads to benefits for customers through improved and more effective service and this is particularly relevant for social enterprises where ‘customers’ include some of the most vulnerable and needy members of communities.

 

So, if you are a social enterprise interested in taking on a Management or Leadership Apprentice, contact your local further and higher education providers.

 

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future

 

 

Video from our ‘Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future’ event held on 14 March 2019. We have another ‘Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future’ event coming up at Ivybridge, Devon on 23 May 2019. If you are from a community pub, shop, centre or other social enterprise hub and are interested in attending this event please visit https://bit.ly/2PHkL31

 

These workshops are funded and facilitated by the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme which provides a minimum of 12 hours fully funded business support to social enterprises in Somerset and Devon. For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and to register for support visit the website: https://bit.ly/2CdIIcS

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

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Five steps to combating loneliness as a social entrepreneur

 

Blog post by Chloe Tingle, Learning Manager at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington.

 

As a Learning Manager at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington, the thing we hear over and over from our students is how lonely and isolating starting and growing your own enterprise can be. Often quoted as the most valuable take away from our programmes is the network of peers that you develop who just ‘get it’. This is something I have experienced first-hand while developing my own social enterprise, No More Taboo, four years down the line and I think I have cracked the loneliness problem but you are going to have to be brave! Here are my five tips:

 

1. Build your team and spend time with them

Now this might sound daunting but from my point of view the earlier you bring people in on your idea the better. Start with volunteers – yes, they require a bit of an investment in terms of your time to train them up but often what they bring vastly outweighs this initial time cost. By having to consolidate and share your ideas, plans and reasoning for decisions with other real life people (not just your dog) you will often find you are thinking a lot more clearly.

That old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” really is true you will be amazed how much just having someone else involved can make things seem so much less pressured. But don’t just give them a task and leave them to it. The beauty of engaging with a social enterprise as a volunteer is that you get the freedom to do things you wouldn’t usually be able to do, working for another type of organisation. So, ask them for volunteers help, input and ideas. At No More Taboo, alongside our monthly planning meetings, all our volunteers and staff get together once a quarter for a Strategy Day, we always make sure there’s plenty of time for fun and for celebrating our successes (both in and outside work).

 

2. Build your support network

Running a social enterprise is an emotional rollercoaster for one, it’s a unique experience which is why it can be isolating. There are times when it feels like everything has gone wrong and you’ve got no one to turn to. Building up a team of supporters, mentors, coaches and friends that you can turn to in your hour of need is so important. Recently, when I had to make a big decision I spent 3 solid days talking it through with different people in my network (including my mum and some good friends) not just business connections. It’s amazing what a different perspective you can get from a quick 30min phone-call. Don’t be afraid to ask people if they would be happy to be an advisor/sounding board for you – it’s low commitment and high impact and maybe you can return the favour one day.

 

3. Get networking AND socialising

When you are running your own business it is all too easy to say ‘no’ to the many invites you might get. Or alternatively to say ‘yes’ to every single networking opportunity and then be so burnt out you have no time to socialise. It is so important to get the balance right with this one. Think about what you want and need from formal and informal meet-ups. You will be surprised how connections can just come out of the woodwork.

 

4. Sign up for a co-working space

If like many social entrepreneurs you work from home/can’t afford an office it can be difficult to get motivated to meet people in a workplace setting. Signing up to a co-working space even for just a few days a month has so many benefits – you get out of the house, you meet people from different walks of life and you overhear very important conversations which can often save you hours of googling. Those little ‘water cooler’ discussions can make a really big difference to your motivation and efficiency. Remember most people who go hot-desking/co-working want to meet other entrepreneurs and freelancers for the exact same reasons you do. We finally took the plunge and joined a co-working space for No More Taboo last year and I really wish I had done it sooner, we have made so many connections and done lots of ‘trading’ business and skills swapping.

At School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington, we have just launched our very own Social Enterprise Hub aimed at creating a collaborative space for social entrepreneurs to meet, network, discuss and work together. More details here: https://www.dartington.org/about/social-enterprise/sse-hub-membership/

 

 

5. Make the most out of your opportunities to be with others

Go out for that coffee, turn up to that meeting that’s not directly related to what you do, actually talk to that person sat next to you in your co-working space. It’s all very well and good making the opportunities but if you don’t utilise them you might as well just stay home and be lonely.
So be brave!

 

School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington have a fully funded Somerset Development Programme for existing social enterprises looking to grow coming up. The Programme starts on 19 June 2019 and will be delivered on four days over three months in Taunton. For more information about the programme and how to apply visit: https://www.the-sse.org/courses/somerset-development-programme/

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme offers fully funded business support to social enterprises in Somerset and Devon. School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners providing support through the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme visit: https://bit.ly/2CdIIcS

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

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Socially Enterprise Women: Soo Brizell, Shekinah

 

Q&A Between Mark Cotton from Devon Community Foundation, a Delivery Partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and Soo Brizell, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Contracts at Shekinah.

 

Tell us a bit about your organisation, what it does, why it does it and your role
Shekinah is a Devon based charity that works with and supports people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness.

 

We see the person first, so we can work together to enable them to be the person they want to be. To be a voice for individuals with multiple and complex needs. We will achieve this by listening to what they tell us, advocating for what they need and supporting the changes that deliver that.

 

Shekinah is a Devon and Cornwall based charity and has been supporting people who are homeless and in poverty for more than 25years. Shekinah provides opportunities for people in recovery or seeking recovery. This may include recovery from homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, offending behaviours or mental ill health. Shekinah believes that everyone deserves to be given another chance, and a passionate and dedicated team of staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly over the years ensuring that people in crisis are given a variety of opportunities to reach a secure and contented life.

 

Although the injustice of homelessness is at the core of Shekinah’s work, there is an increasing demand from those people with complex needs, including mental health, substance abuse and criminogenic behaviours. Working with key strategic partners, Shekinah helps people access support to help move away from the streets, address their health issues, learn new skills via our training centre and receive help in finding work with the support of the local business community.

 

My role focuses on Partnerships and Enterprise, which means that I work across the local business community, inspiring them to support Shekinah and to help us end homelessness. I manage our business partnerships, charity shops and Shekinah Enterprise which is a social enterprise using commercial contracts in painting and maintenance to provide work based volunteering opportunities for people who have been affected by homelessness.

 

What do you find most enjoyable / rewarding about your work?

 

I really enjoy and thrive on the diversity of my role; from meetings with MD of a large transport company to supporting a young man grow into a key role within Shekinah Enterprise helping him make the right choices to stop his re-offending and reducing his risk of homelessness. I am continuously inspired by the team I work with and the way they work with courage, humility and kindness. I love talking to people with experience of living on the streets and being inspired by their resilience helps me become more determined to help Shekinah end homelessness.

 

How has the Enhance Social Enterprise programme been useful for you and your organisation?

 

The Enhance Social Enterprise Programme has really developed my confidence in identifying how to manage Shekinah Enterprise and how to develop it in a sustainable way. The programme has enabled me to identify other ways in which Shekinah Enterprise can help each person find the right solutions to find a more healthy and purposeful life for themselves with a job and a home.

 

What are your key aims and ambitions following the support from the Enhance Social Enterprise programme?

 

The key aim of Shekinah Enterprise is to continue delivering a quality service on existing contracts we have with Plymouth City Council whilst also looking at developing a female-only team. Having identified a niche in the market, coupled with our experience and reputation a female only team would help attract different customers whilst creating opportunities specifically for women who may have experienced homelessness.
My ambition is to have 4 teams dedicated to delivering viable and commercial contracts across Plymouth and Torbay, creating opportunities for progression for the volunteers that make up the teams and to really make a difference in the lives of those volunteers who are giving their time and skills to Shekinah Enterprise.

 

 

European Regional Development Fund flag

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. For more information about the Programme and to register visit: http://www.devon.cc/ese

 

 

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Socially Enterprising Women: Caroline Blackler, Red Velvet Cinema and Samantha Norris & Aynsley Jones, Axminster Health & Wellbeing Centre

 

Blog post by Mark Cotton, Financial Sustainability and Social Investment Mentor at Devon Community Foundation. A Delivery Partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.

 

So it seems it’s my turn to take up the Enhance Social Enterprise blog platform again. Last time I talked about the value of social investment in supporting the growth of the social enterprise economy, but this time I want to focus on the hugely important role that people play in social businesses. And as it has recently been International Women’s Day what better time to shine the spotlight on just a few of the many inspirational women I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last 18 months on the Enhance Social Enterprise programme.

 

Social Enterprise UK recently reported that the proportions of small and medium-sized social enterprises run by women are high compared to their mainstream business equivalents. Indeed, the smaller a social enterprise is, the more likely it is to have a woman as a leader. So, in recognition of the vital role that women play in our sector, I spoke with Caroline, Samantha and Aynsley who very kindly agreed to share some of their thoughts with us here:

 

Caroline Blackler of Red Velvet Cinema

 

Tell us a bit about your organisation, what it does, why it does it and your role

 

Based in Devonport, Red Velvet Cinema is a community cinema for ‘older’ people, primarily those who are lonely and socially isolated. We screen ‘Classic’ films, once a fortnight, after which time is set aside for conversations and companionship, fuelled by tea and cake. During this time those that come often come on their own and this time it really is important for allowing familiarity and through this relationships & friendships to develop.

 

What do you find most enjoyable / rewarding about your work?

 

Looking after people; seeing relationships blossom; seeing individuals become comfortable with each other through continuity of the cinema, repetition and familiarity. The audio level of the ‘chatter’ in the room – happy people talking to each other. Individuals becoming comfortable with the ‘space’ that is Red Velvet Cinema and each other.

 

How has the Enhance Social Enterprise programme been useful for you and your organisation?

 

It’s been fundamental. Without the support the Red Velvet Cinema would not have continued; lonely individuals would not have been able to look forward to it; would not have been able to come; would not have been able to ‘fill their time’. The support of those employed in the programme to help fledgling enterprises such as Red Velvet Cinema has been very valuable; providing support; practical help and mentoring has helped me feel more confident about the external world of funding and ‘company’ development, areas of which I have had little experience.

 

What are your key aims and ambitions following the support from the Enhance Social Enterprise programme?

 

We want to continue providing a safe and welcoming space for lonely and vulnerable people to come and feel less lonely in their lives.

 

Samantha Norris & Aynsley Jones of Axminster Health & Wellbeing Centre

 

Tell us a bit about your organisation, what it does, why it does it and your role

 

Axminster Health and Wellbeing Centre is a charity and Complementary Therapy Centre working with a large team of therapists and holistic movement teachers and a group of volunteers. Our vision is to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Axminster and the surrounding area and thanks to the support from several funders and mentoring from Enhance Social Enterprise we have been able to deliver our mission of offering low cost complementary therapy and holistic movement to all who are experiencing pain and or anxiety.

As Centre Managers our role is to ensure the smooth running of all of our services and to expand and develop our mission.

 

What do you find most enjoyable / rewarding about your work?

 

“I can see the direct benefits to people’s health and happiness and also I can observe people become more active in the community as a result of engaging with our services” – Aynsley
“I thoroughly enjoy delivering our services and working with all the people connected with the charity. I also find researching theory and practice of complementary therapy and understanding the human mind-body connection very rewarding” – Samantha Norris

 

How has the Enhance Social Enterprise programme been useful for you and your organisation?

 

It has been very useful in helping us establish a clear vision and mission for the charity.

 

What are your key aims and ambitions following the support from the Enhance Social Enterprise programme?

 

Our scheme already sits perfectly within the wider healthcare field, complementing relaxation activities promoted by East Devon District Council and the medical services available through the National Health Service. We also complement the work of Health Watch Devon, Leisure East Devon and have a similar mission to Public Health England.
Our ambition is for our service model to be replicated and rolled out across the country and therefore feature in a thoroughly integrated healthcare system.

 

 

 

For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, and to register, visit https://www.devon.gov.uk/economy/business-support/enhance-social-enterprise/

 

 

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

 

 

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Get steady – the key to being sustainable

 

 

Blog post by Andy Stuart, Consultant at Real Ideas Organisation (RIO).

 

I have been involved in the Enhance Social Enterprise programme for the past few months after having supported dozens of clients in Cornwall on our equivalent programme there. I expected to see considerable differences in the day to day function of what would constitute support between the two projects, primarily because the Engine Room focussed on start-ups, whilst Enhance is geared towards established businesses. Whilst this is true in many ways, one key strand has struck me as being the constant battle for all clients. The focus on the client.

 

This may seem to be an anomaly. How can a business function without full and defined attention being paid to this key part of a business model? What I have discovered is that a distinction often needs to be made between who is a client and who is a beneficiary. Most social enterprises have a very clear focus on the beneficiary – that specific demographic who they aim to support with the work they do. And when the beneficiary is also the client, the model is very effective. Where things break down very often, is when a business becomes too reliant on one income stream, very often one contract or grant and they fail to plan for a time when this revenue is at risk. By keeping a continual eye on new partners, a business can mitigate its risk and work to achieve greater sustainability.

 

In a recent meeting with a well-established client, we were able to identify a clear “feast & famine” aspect to their income. The standard model of gaining funding, before launching head-long into delivery, led to the inevitable scramble when at the end of the period of funding, more needed to be sought to carry on with business as usual. The need to establish more sustainable sources of income has brought about the desire to innovate. In this case, the development of an app, with the support of Plymouth University is seen as a very real way to generate income without fundamentally adding to the cost of delivery. We explored this idea further and determined that simply adding more contracts only really added to the turnover, without making the company any more profitable. In order to deliver more and make more of an impact in the long term, growth for the sake of growth will only add to headaches. By starting to focus on the question of “who is prepared to pay for our expertise”, we were able to discuss potential new market segments and new streams of revenue.

 

It is good to remind ourselves that a social enterprise should trade for “people, planet & profit” and in order to be successful, each of these aspects need to be given similar credence. As with the client in the example, by including the question of “who is going to pay for this”, a business can prevent itself from falling down a rabbit hole that can ultimately mean all its good work becomes undone.

 

Enhance Social Enterprise logo

 

RIO are a delivery partner of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. For more information and to register for the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, please visit http://www.devon.cc/ese

 

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