The future, post-Covid and all the economic and social change that lies ahead, will need to bring with it a commitment to both training and re-skill for many, but also a distinct, hardy and tenacious set of practical and soft skills for the enduring entrepreneur.
This is the message contained in a useful and perceptive series of articles to come from Pioneers Post. It is a landscape of compassion, certainly, given the context of the work, but also a landscape of uncertainty that will be managed through endurance, creativity and a survival ethos.
A heady cocktail of needs for the social entrepreneur looking to the future.
‘Experts have warned that half the world’s employees will need to be reskilled by 2025. But with which skills? In our new series, Emerald Works’ Kevin Dunne and Social Enterprise Academy’s Claire Wilson set out seven critical, “no regrets” skills that social enterprise leaders will need to flourish in the post-Covid-19 landscape.’
The seven key skills, promoted by the authors of this thinking are sound and relevant – especially if you are on the brink of leading your new SocEnt project up the enterprise foothills to sustainability.
We were worried, diving into the article, that this was a promotional pivot for a hardened, corporatist lean-into enterprise for good. We should not have worried. Vigorous commitment to the seven principles espoused can, we see, develop individuals with strong technical skills.
Skills that allied with the compassion that got them into the sector in the first place, may well be the key to all our survival.
The SEEE toolkit has six distinct sections, designed to help smaller organisations to understand their impact. By methodically gathering evidence, reflecting on it and transposing the information into useful data presentations.
Giving the information and responses, which we all collect in the social business sector, an organised and accessible face.
Using the toolkit you will work through themes around information collection, engagement, conversations, outcomes, data processing and organised planning and dissemination.
The toolkit is not free, but your licence enables up to five people in the organisation to collaborate and contribute to process. As well have access to all the worksheets you create on the toolbox system to move your information project forward.
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 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!
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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.
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.
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…
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…
Community Wealth Building 2019is 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.
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).
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.
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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.
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.
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!’
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
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‘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
‘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.
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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Hatch, a South London charity, design their peer accelerator programme to ‘…facilitate learning experiences with successful social entrepreneurs (those who have come before), where they can share their wisdom, knowledge and network with those who need it next‘.
Designed for existing social enterprises, keen to grow, with a small number of staff, but who are aiming to seek social investment or crowdfunding resources in the next year or two.
Their programme of support centres around the following thematic deliveries…
Peer-to-peer learning environment
Pro-bono legal consulting
Here at SocEntEastMids we specialise in pro-bono support to the micro-enterprise or the nascent, yet to be connected, social entrepreneur.
However, we recognise that the Hatch Accelerator model offers professional and profound structural advancement for social entrepreneurs and social enterprises who are approaching critical mass.
To Nottingham, on Friday 15th February 2019 – to attend the launch of a new programme of support for budding social entrepreneurs from OLMEC.
Olmec’s mission is ‘...race equality through economic and social justice‘, and we are delighted, at SocEntEastMids to be able to support the work.
First Steps In Social Enterprise is free and open to existing and aspiring social entrepreneurs from BME (Black and Ethnic Minority) backgrounds – across the Nottingham and Derby area.
Are you a sole trader, or have a skill and want to develop a business that benefits the community?
Have a social enterprise idea / social enterprise at an early stage?
Want to develop a social enterprise model from an existing community organisation?
Are an entrepreneur that wants to develop a social enterprise?
Are a working and/or living in Nottingham or Derby?
‘The programme is designed to support aspiring social entrepreneurs’ ideas through a structured 12-week programme and 9 months online support including access to a moderated FaceBook group with online training.’ Source: OLMEC web pages
Applications Open February 15th
Applications close March 15th
Interviews March 19th to 21st
3-month programme runs March 23rd to June 15th
Online support runs to March 31st 2020
You can view, print or download the application form and details below…
We convened in the performance space at New Art Exchange on Gregory Boulevard, an ideal setting for an entrepreneurial engagement. Inspirational speakers, good food and coffee and an opportunity to discuss early ideas in an encouraging and non-critical atmosphere.
‘Languages are for everyone! Enjoy learning two or more languages with our products, games and guides.
Lil’ollo is for young learners from birth onwards, whether you are speaking several languages fluently at home or just getting started. Join our free club to receive free products, guides and more’. (A beautifully designed resource…Ed.) See more here...
‘Created by family history historian, founder of Every Generation Media and Windrush Generation campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE, this storytelling board game is designed to keep the stories and history of the Windrush Generation alive. It helps families, friends and communities share their heritage, family history, identity and culture through the sharing of stories.’ See more here… ( A great resource to keep oral history and family knowledge alive and resonant…Ed.)
A great day, a great community and an important programme for the early social business man or woman. Apply today, we recommend it!
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