Category Archives: SocEntEastMids

Social Innovation Strategy in UK Social Enterprises

Our partnership was pleased to make a contribution to a research project recently, which sought to define what and how Social Innovation practices improve the social innovation culture of UK Social Enterprises.

The research project, was realised through the joint intellectual energy of Dr. Maria Granados, a senior lecturer in Innovation in the School of Management & Marketing at the University of Westminster and Iraci João-Roland, an Assistant Professor at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Discover more here…

You can discover the interim findings, Social Innovation Strategy in UK Social Enterprises, ahead of the full publication of an academic report, here.

The core assumptive definition of Social Innovation for the project was that of ”...a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals”. (Source: Phills et al., 2008, p. 36)

Some of the key findings of interest to us clearly reflected our experience of SocEnt development and community business/community development processes in the past.

 

  • Community is the source of the innovative process…

 

  • Design thinking stimulates the search for solutions through experimentation and quick action, is iterative, is based on collaborative work and facilitate the involvement of users (beneficiaries), who are the centre of the innovative process.

 

  • The agile method facilitates the communication and integration between several actors involved in the innovation process by dividing the project into stages.

 

  • Using the knowledge, competency, partners and relationships that already exist in the SE is a viable option to encourage innovative activities.

(This latter implication is in fact the basis of our project delivery at SocEntEastMids – we share the knowledge and expertise for free at the point of engagement…Ed.)

  • Alignment between employees’ personal interest / belief and social enterprise mission and dual role of client and employee are a powerful booster for intra-preneurship.

(For us, again, culture and mission are irrevocably intertwined…Ed).

Finally, we were both delighted and surprised to see the modest size of the innovatory organisations included and the durability of their projects. Fourteen years of age was the average.

We understand the research team are still open to engagement from the UK SocEnt sector regarding the process of social innovation. (See contact details in the report above.)

Long, may the innovation last!

How to speak? We all know that…!

Update 15th November 2020

We really liked this analysis of Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule for business pitches. The original article, published by Amardeep Parmar in the Entrepreneurs Handbook, nicely captures a 10 point plan for pitching your business idea.

Originally framed for corporate tech entrepreneurs, don’t be put off. The concepts can also hold good for social enterprises thinking of pivoting all or part of their business to reflect new circumstances.  New community businesses responding to the request ‘…come and tell us about your project/business idea‘ will find the simple brevity useful, we would argue. Particularly if you are having a ‘where do we start’ moment!

Discover your convincing ten point plan here.


Original skills development content:

This is a film about the art of the presentation. It can help you to acquire the skill in assembling your knowledge, the making of a telling argument to convince your audience about your community project, your funding renewal or your pending impact investment, amongst many possible goals.

Delivered last year (2019) by the late Professor Patrick Winston at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), it is ostensibly for would be academic scientists. But there is much to discover about your own existing skill set, your preconceived ideas about your audience and it also delivers challenging ways to maximise your effectiveness.

We watched it in the office, as part of an exercise to think about refreshing the ways we use to pitch, for a new project we have coming up.

We winced as we realised we had delivered ‘death by PowerPoint’ sessions in the past, and some of us had allowed our purple prose to even cross the whiteboard, cross the meeting room and exit out into the car park.

Professor Winston was sharing a life time of thought. We think everyone will find something in it…

Source: Originally published as part of the MIT OpenCourseWare programme.


How to write well and effectively?

This filmed lecture, from the University of Chicago by Larry McEnerney, is about writing for the real world. It is delivered in accessible language and the key ideas have real relevance for writing in the Social Enterprise/Social Impact sector.

 

For McEnerney ‘writing in the real world’ can involve the use of jargon, being able to identify your readers, clarity of purpose and the use of the written word ‘to change the world’. He also has some interesting takes on the process of being paid to write.

Practical examples of the techniques and the understanding of your text start at around the 20 minute mark.

Speak well, write well, pitch well – improve the reach of your project, your idea or your community ambitions.

Source: First publ. 2015, as part of the UChicago Social Sciences Leadership Lab programme


The CIC – our most popular call for support!

By far the most numerous query we get, both for sources of information, or for direct advice and guidance, is around the governance, formation and change relating to Community Interest Companies.

Below are links to the latest forms, examples and formal guidance notes on Gov.uk – if we can help with your changes, formally or informally, do  just ask – our services are free.   (Sourced: August 2020)

Board meeting image: You X Ventures, Creative Commons, Unsplash

Forming a CIC

Key link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-cic36-application-to-form-a-community-interest-company

Formal Note ‘When applying to form a community interest company (CIC), this form should be submitted to the CIC Regulator alongside the appropriate Companies House forms, memorandum of association, articles of association and payment’.


Transfer of Assets

Key link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cic53-application-to-transfer-assets

Formal NoteWhen applying to transfer assets of a community interest company (CIC), consent should be submitted to the CIC Regulator signed by a director of the company, detailing assets, value and actual consideration received’.


The CIC Report

Key link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-cic34-community-interest-company-report

Formal NoteThere are 2 types of community interest company (CIC) report: detailed and simplified. The majority of CICs complete the simplified report.

The detailed report is reserved for CICs that have more complex financial arrangements. If you complete this type of report, you might need to get professional advice in relation to the financial information sections.

CIC reports are placed on the public register and made available for the public, which provides an opportunity to showcase your CIC’s activities and the benefits provided for the community over the last year. Your report does not have to be especially detailed, but you should identify highlights’.


Converting a Company to a CIC

Key link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-cic37-application-to-convert-a-company-to-a-cic

Formal NoteWhen applying to convert a company to a community interest company (CIC), this form should be submitted to the CIC Regulator alongside the appropriate Companies House forms, memorandum of association, articles of association and payment’.


Change of Objects

Key link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-cic14-altering-the-objects-of-a-community-interest-company

Formal Note  – The community interest statement
…a statement of the steps that have been taken to bring the proposed alteration to the notice of people affected by the company’s activities (signed by each of the company’s directors).

When applying to alter the objects of a community interest company (CIC), this form should be submitted to the CIC Regulator alongside:

Companies House form CC04 – to notify the change of the company’s objects
a signed copy of the special resolution to alter the objects of the company
a copy of the articles of association, as altered’.

See also https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notify-the-change-of-companys-objects-cc04


Other Useful Links:

Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies

The Community Interest Company Blog from Gov.uk

Dissolving a Community Interest Company from Voluntary Action: South Lanarkshire


HM Government Business Support – new web site

Developing our business idea…

Update: 25th Mar 2020 – Source: www.businesssupport.gov.uk  (Abstract of web page)

Coronavirus

‘The Government is supporting businesses and their employees through a package of measures during this period of unprecedented disruption. This website helps you find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on your business. The Government is doing its best to stand behind businesses and is asking businesses to do their best to stand behind their workers.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): If you are looking for information on healthcare advice for employers and support for businesses please click here.’


Gov.uk now has a new Business Support cluster of web pages for the new or developing business. A basket of resources for new or just developing business across…

Although ostensibly for mainstream business development and entrepreneurship, there are still elements of the site which will have useful content for social business or community enterprise, we would argue.

Under the Finance tab are resources on business funding alternatives, dealing with payments and marketing.

The Leadership collection of resources has an interesting range of support links for women in business, both networking and geographically, women in rural business, for example.

if your business is both entrepreneurial and inventive, then the Intellectual Property cluster of links has useful links – from the always interesting British Library Business and IP Centre, to a useful On-line IP Health check.

You can also reach the Business Support Service on the phone, 0300 456 3565 – 9am to 6pm, or use the Chat Now service direct from their web pages.

Ideas image: Tirachard Kumtanom, Creative Commons, Pexels.com

Social Enterprise – the European context

A new edition of Social Enterprises and their Eco-systems in Europe is now available on the Europa web pages.

This cross-national look at social enterprise is a profoundly useful narrative for individuals, or community actors, who are interested in exploring, not only the deployment of governance forms, but also to understand the philosophical approach to social enterprise development, across time and geography.

Get your copy here…(pdf)

You can download the UK analysis here. It provides the diligent reader with definitions of a SocEnt, and the governance forms currently used by UK enterprises with a social mission.

The work is strong on the historical context of SocEnt development in the UK, as well as offering a critique of the fiscal, governance and research frameworks that do, and will, affect the development of community focused enterprise in the future.

The document also contains a useful set of appendices, that offer insights into stakeholders at national level, a governance form comparison and quick reference guide, as well as a set of references for the text that are an ideal for ‘more reading’.

This ‘Country Document’ from Europa.eu is written by Fergus Lyon, Bianca Stumbitz and Ian Vickers. It deserves to be in your SocEnt development tool kit, we think.


MRA Associates, in their freely available knowledge base, have an interesting and informing article about registered societies, which those exploring new governance forms for social business may find useful.

See more here: https://www.mrassociates.org/knowledge-base/specified-accommodation/cat-1-exempt-accommodation/tell-me-more-about-registered-societies


Forward to 2020

Looking for a bright future…

In our last post we reflected on time passed and have turned our attention to the future, thinking about organisational development in our social business for 2020.

We read a post on Medium recently, from an executive guru which decried, as a management technique, the announcing of your plans…lest you stumble and they all come to nought. (All business is risk, even a ‘social’ one!…Ed)

We have thought about this too, and have come to the decision, given the ubiquity of the internet and new media, that laying out plans, even those not fully ready for complex delivery yet, is a sound way to make contact with like-minded community actors and organisations. Our own motives and action plan are below…

Inspirational Beginnings

We have attended this year ((2019) a number of events organised by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), in both Liverpool and London. Designed to create awareness of, and engagement with, the Community Wealth Building (CWB) agenda. In this aim Neil McInroy and his highly skilled team, have been highly effective.

This engagement has started us thinking about how CWB can be energised to reach the micro and small community facing social businesses or organisations across our region.

It is clear from the recently published documents below, that this community mercantile sector is clearly woven into the multivariate practice, target segments and policy focus of the CWB change matrix.

Key Documents for Strategic Development

CLES have recently published both Community Wealth Building 2019 – theory practice and next steps, as well as a Manifesto for Local Economies.  you can view, print or download both these key documents below…

View, print or download

Community Wealth Building 2019 is a profoundly important document in contextualising local action, policy change and in illuminating the tried and tested, as well as emerging methodologies of change in CWB practice.

Whilst recognising that the new (CLES) Centre for Excellence, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, has a primary focus on Local Authority/governmental policy issues for securing the largest change and development ‘hit’ possible, we think that the same concepts of CWB and the intellectual change mechanisms involved can equally be applied to the small marginalised communities and, importantly, rural England.

 

View, print or download…

The Manifesto for Local Economies contains the building blocks of an exciting new CWB landscape. We do not see any of its elements as revolutionary, but rather see the policy and delivery skein exposed in the document as a progressive, moral and inclusive agenda for the individual, the company/charity, the region and government to embrace.

What The Manifesto calls for is an inclusive, fair and ownership diverting programme of change. It does not decry or deny capital, the market or the organisation – it refocuses them to broad community benefit.

We subscribe to the vision.

The action plan – the micro-contribution

  • To maintain and continue to consolidate activity with our clients for SocEntEastMids in the six counties region of its published focus – free delivery of support, advice and resources for the creation of  socially useful enterprise.

 

    • A new brand and energy for change
  • To create a new brand/web site of focus and delivery mechanism, based in Cambridge UK, to engage with rural communities in England around some key elements of the CWB agenda.

 

  • To scope and deliver this rural enterprise support across The Midlands, East Anglia, Lincolnshire etc., where rural enterprise is, arguably, remote from the national policy debate and one to one encouragement is thinly spread.

 

  • To develop a programme of work, addressing community facing organisations – developing focused CWB agenda items to the unique, particular and social landscapes of our chosen geography.

 

  • To develop a cost recovery mechanism for external speakers and critical advice, event attendance etc., whilst still delivering our core elements of free advice, web and communication services – with any surplus created directed to support our sister delivery at SocEntEastMids, as is normal for our Partnership. To help maintain the sustainability of the programme.

 

  • To focus our Muntjac energy initially on a Enterprise Change Hub, development of Community Banking networks, and Employee Ownership advice and change support. This latter may well spill over into help in creating partnerships, employee owned businesses, co-operatives, measuring impacts for baseline and business plans etc.

 

  • To make Cambridge a ‘go to’ place for CWB in the rural environment. (We have large car parks…Ed).
Spiky, yet endearing …excuse the pun!

The Muntjac is a persistent, pervasive and spiky creature in the rural environment. We like them.

Our strategy and delivery for the CWB programme, although modest, will hopefully develop the same profile.

If you would like to be part of a new CWB initiative in the rural East, do use our site contact facilities and have an opening conversation with Tim.

Seasonal best wishes from all of us!

This is a great volume on Community Wealth Building, newly available from Polity Press. Inspired thinking – drivers for action.

Free delivery when you buy this book from SocEntEastMids…

Joe Guinan and Martin O’Neill make the case that ‘…a new model of economic development is emerging in our cities and communities. Offering real, on the ground solutions to localities and regions battered by successive waves of disinvestment, de-industrialisation, displacement and dis-empowerment…(new) approaches capable of producing more sustainable, lasting and equitable economic outcomes’. (Source The Case for CWB, p.1)

Buy this book here

This book, and the work of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies in Manchester were inspirational in 2019. You can read our response to this development thinking, and our micro-business approach to change, here.

We still welcome all enquiries for our services and support in 2020. SocEntEastMids – free resources for the building of socially useful business.

 

Revisiting our Social Business theory…

 

Yunus Social Business – humanising the enterprise…

We have attended a number of events and meetings recently, across the six counties of the East Midlands, where the nature of our business has been, occasionally,  in focus. We have returned and sought to reflect on our engagement with clients, partners and our own team.

We define our core  Partnership in Cambridge as a Social Business, and cleave to the seven principles delineated in the book Building Social Business – the prime mover for us is to try and do things ‘…with joy’. (We also underscore the Nolan Principles in our work too…Ed.)

Of course, there are more significant enterprise impacting elements to the theories of Professor Muhammad Yunus, whose book defines our work. For our Partners the energy we expend is not for creating vast personal wealth – we use, we believe, enterprise skills and good governance to foster enough revenue to maintain our infrastructure, our tool-kits, human and technical, and then seek to deploy any surpluses to fund the delivery of pro-bono support to individuals and community organisations and actors where we can.

SocEntEastMids and our clients, is a good example of this, as is our book business Books go Walkabout.

What has struck us is how our conversations have changed so little in the last twenty years or so. We talk in the office still of humanity, warmth, empathy, understanding and transparent process – all emotional responses to business propositions perhaps, but never forgetting that it is the business process and back office that fosters and provides for the projects that seek to develop our Social Business aims and achievements. No matter how modest they may be in the grand scheme  of things.

The short video above, from Yunus socialbusiness, is, in effect, a declaration for system change and the humanising of the enterprise, we believe. A moderation of raw capitalism that is perhaps seeing the emergence of ‘its time’. It is not isolated by geography or place, the same principles should apply in a remote rural area or the heart of a city, whatever the continent.

Whether we define it as emergent social enterprise, social business, a co-operative or a genuinely employee owned business – the Yunus principles should all be in play, within this context of understanding and change.

We were challenged recently, in our twitter feed, by a member of the ‘twitterati’ that our position was hopelessly idealistic. Perhaps this is true, but as is made clear in the video exposition above, it is better to aspire to selflessness than to selfishness we would argue.

I was elected recently to join the Board of a regional charity, and was able to accept the onerous duty with delight. As part of the process I attended a staff workshop on Loneliness and Isolation. The stats indicating the demand for this service were challenging.

None the less, part of the group tasks were to develop an understanding of ‘the five ways to well-being’. They are Connect | Be Active | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Give.

Not a bad five point mantra for socio-economic change actors in communities too – we thought. Hopelessly idealistic or not…


This article is a personal reflection by Tim Smith MA, FRSA – A Managing Partner at SmithMartin LLP, custodian of SocEntEastMids interests.

Building a new SocEnt web

We are delighted to be supporting the launch of a new community web design, hosting and update service – blueQuarter.co – part of Broadway SocEnt in Burton on Trent.

blueQuarter logo - image and web link
Discover blueQuarter SocEnt services here…

Our Partnership support packages for SocEnt include free web provision, of course, and we are pleased to be developing in-house training and technical expertise for Broadway, as well as donating the core infrastructure to make this sustainability step a success for them.

As part of Broadway Social Enterprise, this new, fully managed service, is designed to respond to the needs of community groups, social enterprise, charity and education needs.

All the money spent by their clients, on  blueQuarter web services, goes directly to support their community projects at Broadway SocEnt and Muddy Boots in particular.

See more at http://www.bluequarter.co/

If you would like a Social Enterprise, with a local community at its heart, to help you deliver your next set of web pages, or to revise or modernise something you already have, then blueQuarter would be happy to help.

For an informal discussion to explore your next managed web presence, or just to find out more – contact tim (at) bluequarter.co

Always happy to help.

‘We build in WordPress, but are not anchored by geography for this service, only in our commitment to effect change where we live. Contact us from anywhere!’

………………

Editorial Notes:

blueQuarter.co is the managed web service of Broadway Social Enterprise Limited, a community enterprise based in Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, UK.

The technical resources for our service have been donated and developed in partnership with Social Enterprise East Midlands and the SmithMartin Partnership in Cambridge UK.

A long time web and communications supplier, our team are developing their in-house expertise and providing their technical infrastructure.

John Birkett, Chair of Broadway SocEnt has said ‘…we are delighted with this new development for our SocEnt. Not only will we be able to sustainably provide professional and technical support to others in our sector, but will be able to transform the training and knowledge uplift of our existing, and new, SocEnt volunteers…’.

…………………

Other web-tech works in progress Broadway have to be completed:

In the Autumn Broadway hope to launch The Book Bobbler, our new resource for children’s books and arts activity. See http://www.bookbobbler.uk/

Finally to complete their SocEnt sustainability plan, they will be completing and launching the Broadway Broccoli service – an organic veg box service – working to deliver healthier diets and good food in their geographical area of distribution. See http://www.broadwaybroccoli.co/

SocEntEast Mids is a proud sponsor the work of Broadway SocEnt…

The  SocEntEast Mid Team


Social Procurement?

‘We are such spendthrifts with our lives, the trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.’ ― Paul Newman : Actor

Sustainability, going green, recycling, food waste, ethical business, community, evironmentally friendly, food labelling, consumer responsibility – Google any keyword from the above and acres of electronic landscape will open up on your screen and tantalise you with calls for their individual priority.

But to make the world sustainable, right down to the house on the corner, or the single desk at your child’s school, we need a new narrative. One that is, effectively, a moderated form of capitalism…Social Enterprise is it.

Attempting to break completely the bio-rhythms of a capitalist system, arguably embedded in this country from 1750 and the start of the Industrial Revolution, is a very hard thing. To moderate behaviour, or flex direction of travel, is much easier.

If Social Enterprise is the deployment of business enterprise, not for gross personal profit, but to serve up a solution to a community need, then Social Procurement should be the keyword search to trump all others.

“Our entire system, in an economic sense, is based on restriction. Scarcity and inefficiency are the movers of money; the more there is of any resource the less you can charge for it. The more problems there are, the more opportunities there are to make money.

This reality is a social disease, for people can actually gain off the misery of others and the destruction of the environment. Efficiency, abundance and sustainability are enemies of our economic structure, for they are inverse to the mechanics required to perpetuate consumption.’ – Peter Joseph

Why Social Procurement?

Rebecca Dray in her recent article ‘What is Social Procurement‘ on the pages of Society Profits defines it thus…

‘Simply put, social procurement means buying regular goods and services directly or indirectly from social enterprises’.

In her article, Rebecca is rightly keen to focus on the high value SocEnt’s place on innovation and risk depletion. At the heart of a SocEnt lies not only care for community, not personal profit, but for also maximising community benefit .

This is the tipping point in the established supply chain, that can flex traditional corporate procurement policy and action to favour the SocEnt supplier.

In doing so, the vast corporate spend on Corporate Responsibility and Risk Mitigation can be resolved to a SocEnt procurement locus that presents the rationalisation and delivery of an agenda which guarantees ethical supply and community safety at a stroke.

As Dray would have it ‘…By nature of their social and environmental mission they also reduce environmental impact, avoid modern slavery, tackle water scarcity and so much more‘.

We can now, perhaps, slightly shade the Dray definition for Social Enterprise to read…

A social enterprise is a legal and social entity of moderated capitalism, that seeks through Social Procurement, to temper and dissolve the social ills of profit pursuit for damaging personal gain.

Not so fluid, perhaps, but effective none the less, we would argue.

The embrace of a telling argument and practical philosophy, Social Enterprise, must however be matched by the equally telling embrace of traditional business. To moderate or flex, as a goal, will always be more effective that outright revolution.

We also need to convince the non-SocEnt market of the need to join forces with our new movement.

Pat Villaceran, in a recent article on LinkedIn, entitled ‘5 Reasons Business Executives Stray Away From Social Movements‘, nicely frames the arguments corporate procurement specialists use to deflect social procurement innovation. Arguing, in the article, that the unwritten message from corporate institutions is that social entrepreneurship is somehow a less effective, minority and part-time project.

The Villaceran thesis debunks these arguments and presents evidence, very useful if you are pitching to a procurement team, just why the SocEnt supply decision is the right one. We recommend it to our readers.

The time for the ascension of SocEnt activity to be the catalyst for capitalist change is upon us. Indeed the very size of the SocEnt market place is staggering, as we have illustrated in a recent SocEntEastMids article.

Add your voice to the clamour, we know we are not alone….

“The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible.” ― Edward O. Wilson