Poverty and economic and social exclusion can often be invisible in rural areas, we would argue. The trees are no less green, the landscape no less bucolic, if the individual residents or communities are economically and socially disenfranchised.
During 2020 and our following of the thrashing dragon’s tail that is Covid, the media is full of economic data, socio-economic opinion and, perhaps the newest media feature, the ubiquitous graph.
How many of us, we wonder, fully understand the context of the data we are being asked to support or accept. How many of our communities can use data to successfully mount the argument that their’s is the community that needs to be refreshed and supported too?
There is a new toolkit on the block in 2020.
The Institute of Economic Development (IED) and the Rural Services Network (RSN) have devised a new practitioner-focused toolkit which is intended as a guide for “anyone seeking to raise rural relevance in the economic agenda”.
This pivotal report looks at the current policy drivers and meta-trends governing the development of the rural economy.
There is a strong section on the collection and analysis of data to establish the needs and desired outcomes for a given community of interest.
Finally, the document looks at best practice in the rural environment, ranging across coping with ageing in communities, wealth creation and digital expansion, or the need for it.
There is nothing in the toolkit that will be radical for the dedicated, urban social entrepreneur. What the toolkit does is to translate ambitions into a rural context, helping the players in communities to shape and define their developmental argument.
The toolkit also offers, we think, very sound thinking in its data analysis sections on how deep to drill for data, how to manage and structure what you find and finally, what the output should look like.
All skills and limitations that any or all researched arguments for economic development can use. Be they rural or devoutly urbanist in approach.
Taking place on May 21st, 2019 at Mary Ward House in London, the organisers aim to delve ‘…into different practical support that can allow all organisations to progress towards a healthy and sustainable future, while also making sure that we don’t forget about our own well-being and the human behind the social entrepreneur‘.
Early bird tickets are just now available and you can see the range of ticket types available for this significant SocEnt event here.
You can see the key themes of this year’s conference, and review the speakers of note from last year’s event on the BGB web pages. See more: https://beyondgoodbusiness.co.uk/
Perhaps we’ll see you there?
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Imaginaitive with funding, secure in it’s mission for social enterprise – The Key Fund…
Key Fund, a long-standing investor in community and social enterprises, is delivering the Northern Impact Fund, aimed at new and early stage enterprises who are seeking finance to support growth.
Matt Smith, CEO of the Key Fund, said: “With this fund we’re offering finance of up to £150k, but typical investments will be around £50k, with up to 20% of the amount available as grant. The Key Fund was one of the early pioneers in this space, and our original model was based on a grant and loan mix, so we’re really excited to be going back to that original model. It’s long been our belief that grants can play a very important role in helping new and smaller social enterprise become more robust.”
Source: The Key Fund web site – thekeyfund.co.uk Accessed 25.09.2016
A new blended grant and loan fund, the Key Fund package looks to secure sector deals in the £5,000 to £150,000 range. Applications are accepted from across the North and Midlands, with the Fund looking to realise 46 deals a year.
At a flat rate of 6.5% interest, the average loan term secured is expected to be three years.
Interested in business development on these terms, as a social/community enterprise. See the links below…
‘The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs has been over 15 years in the making and exists to make sure that all those involved in enterprise are able to access the support they need, when they need it’.
Whether your interest lies in tracking SFEDI Centres of Excellence or in developing apprenticeships and wider learning in business, then Think Enterprise has something of interest for you.
Be sure to check out pages 16 & 17, with their 2016 Enterprise Awards almost upon us, if only to read of the developmental success of others can in itself an inspiring and confidence building thing as you grow your own business, whatever sector you are in.
The Nottingham Social Impact Fund supports the development of new and existing social enterprises, jobs and growth, offering loans from £5,000 to £150,000.
The Fund believes community and social enterprises not only reignite local economies, but are best placed to tackle social problems, from community-owned pubs, social care services, high-tech renewable energy solutions and recycling schemes.
Dave Thornett, Business Development Manager at Key Fund, said “Nottingham has a strong social enterprise community with the creative arts, the universities and communities. We want to help these businesses grow and play our part in starting new ones in the city. There are great businesses such as Sneinton Market Traders and Food Freedom already growing and organisations such as The Creative Quarter and The Hive stimulating activity.”
If you are interested in Nottingham Social Impact Fund contact Andy Croft via:
Andy.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07814 832852
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The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 (’the 2016 Act’) introduces a new statutory power for charities to make social investments. This came into force on 31 July 2016.
The Charity Commission have released yesterday interim guidance to charities to cover this new development in financial matters. The interim information is due for review in 2017, but the Commission are keen to underscore, for trustees, the power trustees now have to make ‘social investments’.
Below are some useful definitions and links to more information on this theme for those involved in charty governance and finance.
What is a ‘social investment’?
‘In the legislation, a ‘social investment’ means a ‘relevant act’ of a charity which is carried out ‘with a view to both directly furthering the charity’s purposes and achieving a financial return for the charity’.
A ‘relevant act’ means one of two things:
an application or use of funds or other property by the charity; or
taking on a commitment in relation to a liability of another person which puts the charity’s funds or other property at risk of being applied or used, such as a guarantee’
‘A financial investment is an investment made solely for the purpose of achieving a financial return for the charity.
A programme related investment (PRI) will not be a social investment unless the financial return to the charity forms part of the motivation for the charity making the decision to carry out the relevant act.’
The guidance issued goes on to review trustees’ general duties, the statutory restriction imbued by the 2016 Act, as well as the use of a charity’s permanent endowment processes.
In conclusion there is a succinct section of caution on the giving of ‘guarantees’. The guidance does recognise, however…
‘If a charity is asked to give a guarantee, the trustees will need to consider carefully whether they have the power to give it. The power to make social investments includes a power to give guarantees if they meet the definition.’
There are a number of interesting articles and discussion available on the financial and technology news boards at the moment. FinTech is something of a buzz word, being synonymous with innovation in banking technology. There is, however, a wider discourse at large. Can the major banks innovate generally?
UX Magazine recently published a detailed article, by Alexander Rauser, a tech specialist based in Dubai. Alexander argues that banks are currently responding to new advances in banking technology, perhaps rather slowly, and are now beginning to take a view of market changes and new start-ups in the finance sector.
We would argue that the the emergence of the Social Business sector, impact investing and the ideas behind Social Finance, are all part of this press of new ideas into a very traditional market place.
The Rauser thesis holds that major banks have recently made significant change in some areas…
“They have designed online banking processes that improve how banks can interact with their customers, how they can resolve problems, how they can provide information and largely improve the banking experience.
Back office systems have enabled banks to outsource administrative and customer service roles.
The chip and pin and contactless payment systems have revolutionised payment processes—cash is likely to soon be redundant”.
All well and good, but to survive, Rauser argues, the major names we know need to achieve significantly more, namely…
“Growth in revenue and profits.
Bridging gaps in products, services, and processes designed by the bank.
Saving operational costs.
Offering convenience to the customer and supporting customer retention.
Enabling staff with tools that help solve customer problems”.
Recent European on-line banking services have, like the list above, responded to the customer satisfaction challenge in new ways. Not ony by being available on-line, but integrating e-commerce functionality directly into their account provision to satisfy the non-technical solution demands of their customers.
Rauser goes on to discuss nine other key areas that banks can affect or implement in their relationship with customers to better deploy technology, trust and bank/client interaction.
Amongst these are some ideas that must cause traditional bankers of the old school some palpitations. These include extending reward programmes to include more direct ‘gamification’, thereby enhancing what the banks may discover about your lifestyle and spending choices.
The development of ‘social banking’, allowing customers to spend and interact with their bank on new media channels. Rauser cites the Commercial Bank of Dubai, which now has a Facebook app, allowing customers to interact and commit transactions on mobile or desktop ecosystems.
Another move, cited in the Rauser article is the wider introduction of the ‘concierge’ in personal banking. Long a feature for very wealthy clients, some banks are now extending this sort of service to ‘regular’ current account holders.
What all of the initiatives mentioned above seem to be about is communication.
Is this not a return to the town/regional banking interfaces of a previous century? A bank talking, empathetically, with confidence and professionalism to its client base. Where the customer has rising loyalty to his or her bank and approaches banking innovation with real confidence. Assured that the bank actually populates the same world as the client.
We would argue that, despite the new innovations in Social Finance and Social Business we would obviously champion, the approach of key players in the Social Finance market place is very much based upon and conditioned by, these ‘old is new’ interactions.
The opportunity to embrace social outcome as a key business aim, by complex organisations of any size, needs a banker who listens, is available and who understands both the metrics of the business and the philosophy of the declared social aim.
There is a new course, just released on Future Learn, which teaches you the basics of business innovation in any environment. Future Learn offers free courses on-line, many of which can add certificated outcomes to your professional development learning.
The Social Business sector is all about innovation, in financing, in management and in operational delivery – all with strong social value and outcome in mind.
The lounge of Antenna, in Nottingham, was buzzing last night (24th February) with talk about business for good and how change in traditional structures and processes can create models of delivery that are good for business.
The event was part of the ongoing programme of engagement with post-grad students at Nottingham University for the Social Business Programme, which seeks to offer opportunities and ideas for the current post-graduate cohort of the University to start a business for good, a Building Enterprise activity.
The evening was chaired and facilitated by Jeanne Booth, who was able to introduce a panel of speakers for the audience, who were both inspirational and able to deliver pertinent short messages about their experiential learning in the development and awareness of Social Business. Some of the ideas abroad on the night are tendered below…
Corporate social responsibility is dead, long live Social Business! This could have been the rallying cry for the audience from Paul’s presentation. The old ways are perhaps no longer fit for purpose, we were told. With CSR as a concept, arguably, seen as a reactive and backward looking process.
Much was made of nature and things natural as metaphors for new business development under the banner of Social Business. We have destroyed 50% of the rain-forest so far. Paul surprised the audience with the metaphoric concept of bio-mimicry as perhaps providing the new, forward looking business model.
However, the speaker argued, not all in the past is of no use. The Guilds were, from early modern history, craft makers and carers for community. Fostering skills and market development, from their geographical locus, yet preserving the best of tradition.
It is this, the fostering of ideas, like the emergent Social Business movement, that is the only truly scaleable resource we have. ‘A dialogue between two people with ideas results in a more dynamic third idea‘. Wonderful stuff!
This section of the evening had the style of a structured interview and response between Toni and Jeanne. Toni, in her development of the Nottingham Circle, a membership group for the over-50’s, had clearly done much to encourage the recording and shaping of data and soft outcome records for her organisation.
In any new or developing business, this collection of data is redundant in itself. It is how the people in the organisation deploy the knowledge locked up in the data, or in people’s stories over time.
Relationships, shared goals, resourcefulness and generosity. These were some of the keywords Jeanne was able to elicit from the speaker. They are the perfect framing paradigm for a good Social Business too. These and a great spreadsheet, which you can deploy for funders, partners and beneficiaries too.
How do you finance good business was Roger’s key question to the audience at Antenna? Illustrating the tensions between the Third Sector and traditional business, Roger opined that it was seen as the sector’s traditional role, over business, to deliver social outputs.
This has changed. Using another natural metaphor the audience were asked to declare if they ate vegetables? Then they were asked if they were vegetarians? There was a large disparity in the aggregate numbers of the replies.
Thus, Roger argued, ‘…Social Business is not about legal structure, it is about how you do it’. All businesses need capital, to finance cash-flow, purchase of assets or to develop their business idea. Social investment is, therefore, about investing for impact.
There are, therefore, three key elements to getting an offer of social investment. An economically sustainable idea. A collection of ‘investable’ people. Impact.
To see if you qualify, contact Roger at SEEM. He’s the capital chap!
Martin works with people in organisations to ‘...identify, articulate and present the truth of their product or service’. Echoing the message that traditional business methodologies were undergoing change, Martin stresses the search for ‘truth’ in presentation, marketing and delivery as now being the key social business driver.
There is a new commercial imperative. It is the power of the story, not about a thing in itself. As founders of new social businesses the message about your motives, your values and the journey you have undertaken to get here are now powerful drivers of client or customer engagement.
This was a telling section of the evening. Stressing the emotional and empathetic engagement inherent in social business. ‘People no longer buy the ‘what’, they are interested in the ‘why’.
Nicky’s story is one of developing her Social Business through reaction to familial allergies and intolerances. Driven to engage with school catering staff, Nicky was able to grapple initially with the ‘different school lunch’ issue, helping to foster a more tolerant attitude to difference, certainly, but also restoring a sense of balance and good health to her own family members.
From this ‘community action’ approach, Food Freedom has gone on to foster and deliver a range of training courses and awareness raising expertise for a variety of clients – schools, companies and community settings.
A very telling and key part of the Food Freedom presentation was the characteristics needed to found, grow and stabilise a new Social Business. Nicky had three important messages for the Antenna audience…
Really want to make a difference – care about it above profit…
Draw exhilaration and energy from the feedback and measured impact you can obtain along the way…
Make sure you gather that evidence formally and then deploy it wisely.
The evening concluded, after a short break, with a full Q & A session with the expert panel. The Chair was able to guide the audience through questions and responses, from theory and practice, to help them conceptualise, form or grow their Social Business idea.
This was a well organised, useful and informative session. It is part of a wider programme of creating enterprise events. If you have an idea as post-grad, then this is the place to go for answers, advice and, perhaps, even funding…see more here.
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Sharing knowledge, developing a good idea and planning ahead?
If you are on a post-graduate course in Nottingham, in any discipline, and interested in starting your own business, then the Social Business Programme represents a great opportunity to develop your idea, share opportunities and to learn about the social business start-up sector.
From February to April 2015 the programme of events and conferences represent a great opportunity to develop your ideas in concert with a team Social Business specialists.
You can also meet us at a special postgraduate meeting of First Tuesday, Nottingham’s network for social businesses, on February 3rd, 2015. Social Business and social impact measures are part of the debate.
Places are free, but numbers are limited.
Key Programme Events:
3rd February, 2015 – First Tuesday, a Post-grad special event. Inspiration for the entrepreneur and a free drink for the first fifty people through the door! You can book here…
24th February, 2015 – What is good for business? Four different speakers offering you insights into key aspects of Social Business development. A Question and Answer Session will follow this, the first of four sessions in the programme.