ACE stands for Art Care Education. They are a charity with a mission to make a difference to people’s lives through art and creativity, regardless of age, background or ability. They have been awarded the Somerton Town Council Award for Arts and for Business and in 2017 were very proud to be runners up in the Somerset Business Awards for Small Business Charity of the Year 2017. Trustee Shirley Chapman was a student on the School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington (SSED) Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Programme 2018.
ACEarts is based in Somerton’s old Town Hall in Somerset. The derelict building was fully restored in 2016 in part thanks to funding by the building’s current owner and patron of the charity. It now houses a gallery shop downstairs and an art exhibition space, café and community space on the stunning upper floor.
The space is used for exhibitions, events and meetings that aim to include all sections of the community. One recent event saw a 4 year old working alongside a 93 year old and another successful exhibition involved large structures called podules that encouraged one young boy with severe autism to actually communicate with another child for the first time in his life.
Shirley worked in the finance industry and care industry prior to joining ACEarts. When she retired she started volunteering in the gallery and was subsequently asked to become a trustee and to do the finances.
It took about 18 months to get the gallery up and running. Although all the trustees had worked in high powered jobs, Shirley felt that they were running the charity more as a project and so decided that it was time to get expert advice and start planning for the future of the business. In particular, she was interested in finding out more about applying for funding and long term business planning. “We were coasting along well, but the course really helps you to formulate a plan for the future. It’s not until you do the course that you realise that you do need that expertise.”
One of ACEart’s objectives is to own the building. The charity had considered different ways of raising capital but Shirley says that the opportunity to discuss this with the different business advisors on the SSED programme business panel review was very useful, as they suggested various ideas that she can now explore with her board.
The charity works with over 120 freelance artists and designers who exhibit in the exhibition space and sell their work in the gallery shop. The sales from the gallery, shop and exhibitions enables ACEarts to provide their education and care activities, workshops and community events.
For the past 6 months they have been focusing on their outreach work. They work with local residential and nursing homes to get the freelance artists out into the homes, working closely with health and social care professionals to create enjoyable art activity sessions. “These provide social interaction for the residents and help to increase happiness and wellbeing. We’ve had several people with severe dementia that haven’t socialised before who have interacted through the sessions. We want to continue this work and hope to branch out into other care homes eventually.”
Shirley is keen to diversify the inclusive community activities that ACEarts provides and through the SSED course met fellow social entrepreneurs who were able to advise her on her plans to reach out, for example, to the refugee community, discussing options such as using food to bring communities together.
The SSED fellows also collaborate with each other. ACEarts are planning an exhibition involving 5 major structures, for which they have applied for Arts Council funding. Following the exhibition, the structures will need to be placed somewhere and one of the other students on Shirley’s course is planning an art trail on her community farm, so they are working together to place the structures along the trail.
In addition to generating income from the gallery and shop, ACEarts also apply for funding and grants to support their work. “It was very useful to get the knowledge from the business panel of how to go about applying for grants and funding.”
The Somerset Community Foundation gave them a grant which is being used to fund a postcard project between the residents in the care homes and local school children. They send each other postcards which will then be displayed in an exhibition at the gallery. They also received funding from Skipton Building Society for their outreach projects in care homes. And Santander gave them funds which have been used to provide assisted places for workshops with the artists, for those who would not otherwise be able to afford to participate in these.
ACEarts is run by 1 full-time and 2 part-time employees and 33 volunteers. The need for adequate staffing hit home recently when the gallery manager was off sick for a few weeks. Shirley says that one of the main purposes of attending the SSED course was to help the business to expand so that they can employ more people. She learnt from the course that business model, business structure, staffing resources and costs were a priority and is now focussed on how best to organise the structure of the business. “One of the action learning questions on the course was, what is your manager doing, is she doing what you’re employing her to do? She is absolutely amazing at doing all the exhibitions, the artists and that side of things but of course she is bogged down with the running of it. So that’s what I’ve learnt from the course that we actually need to employ someone to be the deputy so that the manager can get on and do her job. We would also like to employ someone to create an online shop so we can expand sales that way.”
Since the gallery first opened in September 2016 they have hosted a programme of inspiring exhibitions and the social enterprise model fits in well with the ethos of the business. One comment recorded in their exhibition visitor book states: “The most social exhibition I have ever been to – we’re all talking to each other and all generations interacting happily.”
They have set up the Somerton Area Alliance to make Somerton a dementia friendly town. “I am a dementia friend and we run dementia friends’ sessions in the hall and are aiming to get 500 dementia friends in the next year, we currently have 102. We’ve been running the sessions with the scouts, beavers and cubs and these have been fantastic and we also want to link into the schools with that as well.” A recent exhibition featured drawings and installations exploring dementia, helping to raise awareness of the issue locally.
“What I particularly liked about the School for Social Entrepreneurs programme was the good collaboration with everybody, getting other people’s ideas and the chance to reassess what you are doing as a business. I also benefitted from the sales sessions and was able to take the advice and information to upskill the gallery staff and volunteers, to help them with the sales skills required to run a successful retail business.”
Shirley definitely advises people to go on the course. “There were a lot of people there who hadn’t fully set up their businesses and they got a lot out it. The facilitators were excellent and their advice and the course content was very good. It was run exceptionally well and was the right sort of length. It was very beneficial, tapping into other people’s expertise. We had a good group and an excellent action learning set and it was great to collaborate with people who are willing to listen to you and give you their expertise.”
School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are currently recruiting social entrepreneurs to two programmes:
- Start Up Intensive – Somerset 2018, applications are open to new and aspiring social entrepreneurs in both Somerset and Devon. For more information and to download the application form visit: http://bit.ly/2N5dFTj
- Devon and Somerset Social Entrepreneurs Development Programme, for established social enterprises looking to grow. For more information and to download the application form visit: http://bit.ly/2NHAEov
School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners offering a minimum of 12 hours tailored business support to social entrepreneurs in Somerset and Devon as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information and to register visit http://www.devon.cc/ese.
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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The Enhance Social Enterprise programme is supporting the growth of the social enterprise sector across the Heart of the South West LEP area covering Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset. Through this programme existing social enterprises, community sector groups that want to transition into trading, budding social entrepreneurs in need of help to develop their ideas to start trading and existing social enterprises looking to grow can receive a minimum of 12 hours of FREE tailored business support from a range of partners.
The business support provided by Devon Community Foundation, as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme, looks at income diversification and financial sustainability. It may be that your social enterprise has been dependent on grants and donations for operating income. If this is the case, you may be considering how you can move away from being so reliant on vulnerable sources of income. Grants and donations may not be so easily obtained in the future and if they can be obtained, they may be much reduced. If this sounds like you, then you may have heard some common buzzwords that tend to get used when discussing these things: In this short piece I want to offer a quick glance at resilience, readiness and responsibility and offer a fresh perspective on their vital relationship.
To shield your social enterprise from the uncertainty of reliance of grant and donations, you may wish to increase your trading operations so that a greater proportion of income is derived from profitable trading. The adoption of such a strategy could be considered as making the social enterprise more resilient – able to better withstand the rapidly changing environment in which it operates. One social enterprise I recently worked with has an objective to increase income derived from trading to over 50% in the next few years, and a social investment loan is helping them to achieve that goal.
Sometimes, finance is needed in order to up-scale trading operations, and one way to fund growth is through taking a loan. Although access to finance from traditional banks may be restricted for social enterprises, there is now a good range of social investors offering loans. These include not only Devon Community Foundation (DCF)and our Devon Social Investment Fund, but also organisations such as Social Investment Business, Social Finance, Access, Big Issue Invest, Resonance and CAF Venturesome.
When a social enterprise is looking to take a loan, the business will be required to demonstrate investment readiness. The social investor will commonly want to see a robust business plan, marketing strategy, cash flow forecasts, social impact reporting and good governance. These are essential building blocks that will not only help attract investment by demonstrating readiness, but the process of developing and implementing these crucial aspects will build capability and capacity into the business. This could secure not only an investment loan, but also the long-term future of the social enterprise as it becomes more resilient and able to deliver growing social impact.
During a recent meeting with a very small social enterprise to explore an investment loan, we went through the investment readiness requirements headlined above. I must admit to thinking how heavy and demanding it all sounded! I was surprised at the end of the meeting when the founder of the business told me how relieved she was to be going through this! It turned out she had previous negative experience of taking on a loan that was not suitable and she was unable to repay. I was thanked for being a responsible lender, with the founder saying that she came into the meeting scared and left it feeling safe.
Although the investment readiness process may at first seem daunting, it should be welcomed. Not only does it make a business more resilient, it is an act of responsibility by the social investor. If you are looking to take on an investment loan there is some very good support offered through the The Reach Fund that provide grants to fund consultants to work with you on your investment journey. Social enterprises can be referred to the fund through investors such as DCF’s Devon Social Investment Fund as they start to work together on investment readiness.
If you would like to know more, then please do get in touch; I’m sure we can help with your investment readiness and resilience. Oh, and we are responsible.
Blog post by Richard Taylor, Social Investment Manager, Devon Community Foundation.
For more information on how the Devon Community Foundation can support your social enterprise email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01884 235887.
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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We interviewed Fiona Murphy, founder of Double Bounce Inclusive Tennis South West CIC. Here, she explains how she combined a love for Tennis and for working with disabled people to create her social enterprise and how she benefitted from the support of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.
For more information about the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme and to register visit: devon.cc/ese.
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.Posted in Enhance social enterprise | Tagged Business support, case study, CIC, Social enterprise | Leave a comment
B Corp status is the latest movement sweeping the business world, originating in the states, almost 150 UK businesses are now certified as a B Corp, and 3,000 globally, and some pretty big ones too.
So what is a B Corp, who’s got it, why does it matter, what sets is apart from social enterprise?
B Corps status doesn’t replace the need for social enterprises, businesses that enshrine social impact in their operating model. The key difference is that B Corps is a status any business or social enterprise can gain, it is not a legal structure. It’s purpose is to recognise and involve all businesses, big and small, profit distributing or not in improving the way they work in a number of areas related to ethical business. From employee engagement to standards on social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, the B Impact Assessment gets to the bottom of how a business operates in an ethical manner. For those of us getting weary of the corporate clap trap surrounding CSR, this really feels like a breath of fresh air.
There is something mythical about even the name, does it stands for Better, Benefit or Be the Change? The real answer is that in many US states companies can change their legal structure and become Benefit Corporations, this satisfies the legal component of becoming a certified B Corp, so that is where the ‘B’ probably came from, but as the movement develops, ‘Be the Change’ is how the entrepreneurs leading the charge often refer to it.
In the UK there are some high profile B Corp’s, Danone UK, Divine Chocolate Ltd, Pukka Herbs, JoJo Maman Bebe, Ella’s Kitchen, west country surf brand Finesterre and Cornish design agency Leap and it’s growing all the time. There are also some social enterprise converts who are choosing to use B Corp status to demonstrate their credentials like the Big Issue, Resource Futures and at some point in the future hopefully RIO!
The reason businesses are starting to turn to B Corp status is simple, the market is starting to expect more from businesses. Whether that be investors looking for more impactful returns or millennials demanding more purpose in their jobs or customers demanding more than just a cheap price, conscious about where and how their products are made. If you think this sounds glib, some pretty influential people are backing the cause, people with a lot of money to invest for good.
Larry Fink –BlackRock CEO:
“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies need to do more than make profits —they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.”
So why does this matter? Well, for those of us working in the social enterprise sector we may have reason to think we own social impact! But we don’t, and whether we like it or not, businesses have a huge role to play in society, so in my view, anything which succeeds in getting business leaders to take the triple bottom line more seriously has to be a good thing. Of course we can all argue that the legal aspects are not the same as an asset locked CIC, and you’d be right, but if you can get 1,000 shareholders to agree to change a business’s legal constitution so that it has to take into account social and environmental factors when making decisions, then you’ve invested heavily in this and won some hearts and minds! If you’ve then achieved the minimum 80 out of 200 score, you’re definitely on the right path. Are there businesses who could take advantage of this to ‘greenwash’ their customers, possibly, but they would have to go through a lot of effort to do that, are there social enterprises who don’t deliver as they should, probably. Are we better off having a movement of businesses all trying to ‘Be the change’ in the world…absolutely.
Having recently trained as a B Leader, someone who can help and guide businesses through the process, I’ve come to realise that despite my initial cynicism, this could really be something that makes a difference. The group I trained with came from many backgrounds, some running their own businesses, some representing major financial institutions and training as internal champions, some looking for a career change, but all with one clear objective, to have more purpose in life. That was refreshing, as was the beer that we drank after the training and that is as much a part of this movement as anything else, B Social’s are popping up everywhere, a chance to meet likeminded business people, exchange practice and do better business together. I have already witnessed some great examples of information sharing between businesses that normally might be competitors, or at the very least extremely guarded about what they share, but the B Corp network in the UK, coordinated by B Lab UK, seems to have real potential and there are already examples of B Corp’s redefining their supply chains by demanding B Corp status from their suppliers.
So safe to say I’m an early adopter, but mindful of my social enterprise roots! But there’s a part to play for both B Corp and social enterprise and I for one hope this brings like minded people together to make more social change happen and to do some better business together!
For help and advice on B Corp visit http://bit.ly/2smPJ5
Blog post by Jon Rolls, commercial director at Real Ideas Organisation. Real Ideas Organisation are one of six delivery partners providing business support to Social Entrepreneurs as part 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 2014-2020Posted in Enhance social enterprise | Leave a comment
Video case study featuring Amerie-Rose, co artistic director of Encounter Theatre & Therapy, who completed the Lloyd’s Social Entrepreneurs Start-Up Programme at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington, which is supported by the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.
Could you please tell us a bit about your background and 4 Dementia Carers?
” 4 Dementia Carers started due to my own personal experience. As a single parent working full-time, I found myself caring for my mother who had vascular dementia. At first, I didn’t realise that she had dementia, I knew my mother needed support and that I was the only family member near enough to provide that support but I had no help or pre-training for it. This was a very emotional time where I learnt how to deal with traumatic things that you cannot prevent or predict. I found it difficult to do right for everyone, I did my best when looking after my mother, but if I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.
There are 24.6 million people who know a family member or close friend living with dementia, which is 38% of the population. In the workplace, you would not know who was going through this. People who leave their jobs to be full-time dementia carers often give a different reason. They may go off sick to take someone with dementia to an appointment because they don’t feel they can ask their employer.
I decided to make my workplace, the Met Office, a Dementia Carer Friendly Workplace. We focused on dementia carers because they are hidden and at risk to their own mental health and wellbeing. What we realised was by supporting dementia carers, who often would not come forward because of taboos and stigma, we benefited other carers too. One of the directors said that a positive impact of making the Met Office Dementia Carer Friendly was that they began considering all carers when making decisions. In 2016 I retired from the Met Office to spread what I had done there to other organisations. ”
Why did you choose to do the Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Start Up Programme at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington?
” I had little knowledge of starting my own business and I knew there were a lot of things I might do wrong without the right support. I didn’t have any funds at all and I valued having other social entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off and to network with. The Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Start Up Programme supported by the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme was the perfect business support for me. Without the programme I wouldn’t have been able to fund the training I needed, have access to a mentor, make much needed improvements to my website, create marketing tools or even know what to charge. The Programme took you through the stages to create a business, for example we looked at legal structures, on my own I would have created a CIC but during the course I realised this structure is not right for where we are now. My one-to-ones with learning manager Sam Haydock were very useful. We worked in small Action Learning Set groups to work through problems and we still meet to this day. The course has helped me to connect to a whole family of entrepreneurs. We have a lot in common – we want to fix something! This helps you keep going when things get difficult, the programme and your peers help you to see a way forward! ”
How has 4dementiacarers developed since completing the Programme?
” I am encouraging more workplaces to become Dementia friendly workplaces. The model includes having a champion to drive it forward including buy in from the top; delivering dementia friendly sessions to increase staff awareness and understanding about dementia; developing a Dementia Carer Network group which is a community of past and current carers and creating Carer Buddies who can meet up for a chat when needed.
I have developed Dementia Carer Workshops which demonstrate a caring organisation to employees, reduces the stress dementia carers feel under and helps them cope with their situation. Following one of our workshops, the British Library developed a Dementia Carer Network and Carer Buddies. When asked what action they would take away from the day, one participant said: ” Talk more instead of thinking I can cope alone. Listen more, say less; try not to confuse the issue – give more time. Stop feeling guilty. ” And 100% of participants said they would recommend the course to others.
I have also promoted Dementia Walk Throughs with local GP surgeries led by a group of dementia patients. The insight into difficulties faced by someone living with dementia led to quick practical changes which benefitted other patients too.
As my contribution towards the Newton Abbot and Teignbridge Dementia Action Alliance, I facilitate Dementia Carer Network meetings monthly, this inclusive membership has led to some vital support, including for one dementia carer who felt suicidal. ”
What would you say to other new and aspiring social entrepreneurs considering taking The Lloyds Bank for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Start Up Programme at School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington?
” I wouldn’t be where I am today if it had not been for this Programme. If you too have a great idea which could benefit the community in some way then this Programme can help you to make a success of it. If you don’t give it a try you will never know the difference it could have made to others. There is nothing like working alongside other like-minded entrepreneurs. If you are like me providing this support will give you enormous satisfaction. Just do it! ”
Mary received the Newton Abbot & District Civic Society Award – Individual Merit for Outstanding service to the community Civic Award 2017 and is now a School for Social Entrepreneurs fellow.
School for Social Entrepreneurs – Dartington are one of six delivery partners offering tailored business support to Social Entrepreneurs through the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme. For more information about the support offered by each of our delivery partners, and to register for the Programme visit our website: http://devon.cc/ese.
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1. Social enterprises are not-for-profit.
More social enterprises generated a profit than standard SMEs (93% vs 76%). Most social enterprises we see are ‘for profit’ but they dedicate their profits to achieving a good cause. Social enterprises can, and do, pay market salaries and reasonable bonuses to staff and directors. Many social enterprises can also pay dividends to investors and shareholders: this is usually restricted so that a majority of profit is dedicated to social causes.
2. Social enterprises don’t pay salaries
Social enterprises are more likely to pay fairly: 78% of social enterprises report paying the living wage to their employees. Social enterprises can pay market salaries. A social enterprise that turns over tens of millions of pounds would be justified in paying their CEO a salary commensurate with running such a business. Directors of many social enterprises – depending on the legal structure chosen – can also receive remuneration.
3. Social entrepreneurs can’t run a real business
Many social entrepreneurs come from successful business backgrounds. Social entrepreneurs are just like other entrepreneurs – some will succeed, some will change track and some businesses will fail. Most social entrepreneurs we meet are acutely aware of the need for their business to succeed so they can tackle the social issue that they are passionate about. Social enterprises are more likely to innovate than standard SMEs – 67% of social enterprises have introduced new products or services compared to 43% of SMEs.
4. Social enterprises are just small businesses
There are many, many examples of large social enterprise businesses. Examples include large healthcare providers, big leisure trusts and universities. These are usually multi-million pound businesses with thousands of employees that have chosen social enterprise as their business model.
5. Social enterprises rely on grants
The whole point of being a social enterprise is that you trade to achieve a good cause. This means selling goods, services and products. Many social enterprises do access grants to help with start-up or with certain projects. Our advice is that a social enterprise should aim to use a grant as an investment with a view to developing an income generating idea once the grant runs out.
6. Social enterprises are automatically more sustainable
Social enterprises will only succeed if they can sell their services and products to customers. Many charities have survived for decades by relying on grants. That said, relying on grants can be challenging and developing successful, socially enterprising income streams can improve sustainability. Social enterprise should not be seen as a panacea – you need a strong business model, excellent market insight and an ability to deliver what customers want and need. Much like a ‘standard’ business really.
7. Social enterprises are more likely to fail
Much research suggests that social enterprises are more resilient than their ‘standard’ private sector counterparts. We can speculate on the reasons for this including diverse income streams, social purpose and tenacity of social entrepreneurs. Research into longevity of the top 100 PLCs and top 100 social enterprises showed that, over the last 30 years, 41% of social enterprises have survived compared to 33% of PLCs.
8. Social enterprises are not scalable
Social enterprises are no different to ‘standard’ businesses in this regard. If you have a great product or service, a great team, the ambition, the drive and resolve and a clear plan for scaling there is no reason why you cannot significantly scale your business.
9. Social entrepreneurs are only concerned about social impact
Whilst most social entrepreneurs we meet are motivated by social or environmental issues they also understand that their business needs to be profitable to enable them to achieve their good cause goals. Focussing only on social impact without paying regard to finances, marketing, customers and all the standard business issues is a sure-fire path to trouble.
10. Social enterprises only operate in health and social care
Social enterprises operate in many sections of the economy. There are social enterprises in banking and finance, media, creative industries, business services, agriculture, tourism, fashion, education, entertainment, energy, heritage, housing, sports and more. Pretty much any business could be a social enterprise.
Blog post by Gareth Hart, co-founder of Iridescent Ideas. Iridescent Ideas are one of six delivery partners providing business support to Social Entrepreneurs as part of the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme.
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Put simply, social investment is the use of mostly repayable finance to achieve a social as well as a financial return. A social investor hopes to receive their original investment back with interest generated from the trading profit of the social enterprise. And they also expect the investment to result in measurable social impact.
Social enterprises use the investment to increase their impact on society, for example by growing their business, providing working capital for contract delivery, buying assets, or developing new or existing activities that generate income. As with any kind of finance, not-for-profits need to be in a position to secure the investment and be prepared to satisfy investor requirements. This is commonly known as investment readiness, and focuses on five key building blocks:
1. Good leadership and governance is crucial to any social investment plan and its area that social investors look at in great detail. Any investor needs to have confidence in the team who are managing their investment.
2. Investors and funders always look at financial performance and track record, and whilst the past is no guarantee to future performance it does demonstrate the ability of an organisation to achieve financial outcomes.
3. The ability to demonstrate that there are sound financial systems and controls in place is vital for investors and funders and many want to see that the board and management have accurate information for decision making and performance monitoring.
4. Social investors are as much interested in the quality of services provided as the social impact of the organisation within its community or with its customers. Being able to accurately evidence and report on quality and impact is a crucial element of investment readiness.
5. When looking to scale and grow by moving into new or developing markets it’s important that the market potential is clearly understood and genuinely achievable.
The good news is that the Enhance Social Enterprise programme is supporting the growth of the social enterprise sector across the Heart of the South West LEP area covering Plymouth, Torbay, Devon and Somerset. Through this programme existing social enterprises, community sector groups that want to transition into trading and budding social entrepreneurs in need of help to develop their ideas can receive a minimum of 12 hours of FREE tailored business support from a range of partners.
Alongside business support many social enterprises and other not-for-profits need access to finance to support their growth plans. Some are in a unique position in terms of the range of finances that they potentially have access to, many can look to secure repayable loans and equity investment in the same way that for-profit organisations can. Most also have access to non-repayable grants in the same way that charities and NGO’s can.
Despite the apparent abundance of sources of finance available, social enterprises in the UK repeatedly report that access to finance is the main barrier they face, both at start-up and in trying to reach sustainability. By comparison, traditional SMEs report obtaining finance as only the sixth biggest obstacle to their growth.
All is not lost. In addition to the support offered through Enhance Social Enterprise there is investment readiness grant funding available to support organisations regardless of where they are on their investment readiness journey, such as The Reach Fund.
Once ready to take the leap into securing social investment, Social enterprises now have access to an increasing number of social investment products and services aimed at and specifically developed for the sector. These products come from a range of organisations providing the spectrum of social investment and social finance support in the UK, and include not only Devon Community Foundation and our Devon Social Investment Fund, Somerset Community Foundation and their Somerset Social Enterprise Fund, but also organisations such as Social Investment Business, Social Finance, Access, Big Issue Invest, Resonance and CAF Venturesome to name a few.
If you would like to know more about social investment then please do get in touch, I’m sure we can help with your investment readiness and social investment needs.
Blog post written by Mark Cotton, Financial Sustainability & Social Investment Mentor
The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Devon County Council, Devon Community Foundation, Somerset Community Foundation, Real Ideas Organisation, Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs, Iridescent Ideas and Cosmic.
It’s a sad day when any business goes into liquidation but the news that Carillion Plc is no longer viable means that a sizeable national workforce may need to look for new jobs and sub-contractors will be left worrying about how to manage cashflow over the coming months. During what is usually the most belt-tightened of all months of the year, many families will be reacting to the news, adapting to a period of uncertainty and making plans to overcome adversity.
Whilst not wanting to diminish focus on those affected nor lose sight of the lessons to be learned from the Carillion collapse, I’m interested in another conversation originating from the social enterprise community about the award of public-sector contracts. The conversation gained enough of an audience that Government introduced the Social Value Act (2013) and now following insolvency of the mutli-national facilities management Plc, the volume of the dialogue has been dialled-up. Simply put, social entrepreneurs, community activists and commentators are promoting the logic of third sector organisations – that are neither tied-up with the bureaucracy of pre-privatisation officials nor hamstrung by the profit aspirations of shareholders – being best placed to deliver some community contracts.
Part of being an entrepreneur – social or otherwise – is scanning the horizon to identify any patterns or potential disruptions to business. At a time when “bailout” is still politically sensitive and “nationalisation” feels to some voters to be a backward step, the fall-out from Carillion could result in an opportunity to build on the Social Value Act and harden the language from merely considering social enterprise suppliers to favouring those organisations that create greater business value through the triple bottom line.
So, for social entrepreneurs it’s time to think about the things that can be done to make themselves ready to bid for upcoming tenders. Simple things like making sure boilerplate documents that are requested in most competitions such as Equality and Diversity Policies and Environmental Commitments are updated and Public Liability/Insurance Certificates are at hand. Some tenders require brief biographies of key team members are included, others may want to see a Social Impact Evaluation.
If you’d like more information about making your organisation tender-ready, please contact the Enhance Social Enterprise team or register at http://devon.cc/ese
Blog post by Richard Snell, Heart of the South West Social Enterprise Programme Manager.
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1. Concentrate on what you need to do, not what you like to do
When it comes to business support, many new entrepreneurs are magpies attracted by the shiny gems of learning rather than the brown load-bearing stones that form the foundations of a sustainable enterprise.
Glistening like Castafiore Emeralds, video marketing, social media and digital transformation workshops soon fill-up places and waiting-lists of delegates eager and motivated to learn. In part, it’s the entrepreneurial mind-set led by a big-idea mentality which tends to skip over the finer details of cash flow. Arguably, it’s compounded by an entrepreneur’s extension of their own self-concept; my business has slick branding, web presence and video marketing, therefore I am. And whilst this isn’t wrong – after all, we all need good marketing – the biggest cause of business failure is commonly acknowledged as cash flow.
2. Start Planning Forward
The Social Value Act begun the process of encouraging Public Sector providers to consider awarding contracts to Social Purpose organisations on the basis of best value rather than least expensive. Start working out how you can measure your enterprise’s social impact and meet other procurement requirements as the number of contracts appraised this way increases.
3. Set Yourself Apart
Competition is often cited as an obstacle to social enterprises achieving success. Try seeing your business through your customers eyes. Consider your offer and prices and how they compare with that of other providers. Sell your product not only to the decision maker but also to the one who is going to benefit from what you are selling. You bring a lot of value to what you do, allow your personality to shine through and show your commitment to people.
4. Apply for Awards
Achieving awards is another way in which you can set yourself apart from the competition. If your organisation does something well, start seeking recognition for it. Look at the awards you could apply for in the coming year and include the application process as part of your planned marketing and PR activity.
5. Grow Your Business
If you have survived start up and built a successful social enterprise it may be worth considering the next step and growing it beyond its current status. Growth will depend on the type of business you own, your available resources and how much money, time and sweat you are willing to invest all over again. Types of growth might include building your online presence, diversifying your product/service line and entering new markets.
Whether you are a new, existing or aspiring social entrepreneur, Enhance can provide free business support, please register at www.devon.cc/ese
Blog post by Richard Snell, Programme Manager and Susie Jones, Marketing Officer for Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise programme.