Wanted: Community-minded businesses that are looking to scale.

Jul 8, 2024 | News

There’s a new program that’s looking to recruit entrepreneurs in England who are passionate about improving the world.

What do people do when looking around, they see problems they want to fix? Ayve Couloute, a teenage girl, founded Girls Into Coding in order to encourage more girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Stephen Arnott, of Beats Bus Records, teaches hip-hop to children in Yorkshire. A community in Liverpool has created Kitty’s Launderette – a cooperative, eco-friendly laundry and community hub.

All of these people have started out with a unique idea that could change their community. All are also fellows at the School of Social Entrepreneurs, which launched Trading for Good this week. Trading for Good, a five-year initiative, is delivered by SSE in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund, with support from Power to Change, The Dulverton Trust and other partners. National Lottery players have contributed almost PS5m to provide funding, support and education to more than 650 community businesses and social entrepreneurs across England.

“There are people from all over the world who’ll be fascinated by this place where mission and money meet. Alastair Wilson is the CEO of SSE. “We want to find them.” “They’ll often be people with lived experience or who have a brilliant solution that will work for a market that is broken or a poorer community .”

A community in Liverpool has created Kitty’s Launderette. It is a co-operative, eco-friendly laundry and community hub

According to the latest report from Social Enterprise UK, there are approximately 131,000 social businesses in the UK. Social enterprises are businesses which sell products and/or services to support a central mission in the social or environmental field. They include local businesses that are led and focused by their local community.

These organisations employ 2.3 million people and have a combined turnover of approximately PS78bn. In the last financial period, PS1.2bn of collective profit was reinvested in the social and environmental missions of these enterprises. The sector has shown resilience in the face of major issues such as the cost of living crisis, the energy crises and the legacy of pandemic which have affected the entire economy.

“Social Enterprises are an important part of the economic system because they represent the type of business behaviours that we want to see in order to achieve growth,” says Dean Hochlaf.

“These are businesses making a profit. They’re staying competitive but they use these profits to invest into their core social missions. They are able to tackle the most pressing problems that hinder our economy. By using their profits to improve social conditions, they create a foundation for an economy that is healthier, where more people contribute, can work and spend money. This is how we achieve sustainable growth, and also shared prosperity.”

Girls Into Coding offers coding, robotics, and computing workshops for girls

Wilson, from SSE, suggests that social enterprises are most effective during times of social and politic upheaval. “There are moments when the snow globe is shaken and things settle,” says Wilson. “And they’re moments that entrepreneurs can make an impact, and they are moments when things are reinvented and structures are changed and there’s a new, positive energy .”

Trading for Good, a programme of SSE, is therefore timely. The program is designed for community businesses and social enterprise at different stages of development. This is achieved through a combination of an online learning programme and Match Trading grants, which match income pound for pound.

Wilson says that a key part of the program is to connect people to resources, funding, and networks they did not have before. This will help them get the project off the ground.

Trading for Good provides funding, education, and support to people who want to make a difference in the world. Gain the skills and confidence you need to tackle social and environmental issues through trading income. Trading for Good offers funding, education and support for community businesses and social entrepreneurs in England. Find out how to apply.

Mirella Ferraz, co-founder of Share Shed in Devon, is an innovative mobile “library of things”. She has participated in four programs with SSE. The most transformative was the Trade Up program, which she says helped Share Shed go to the next step. It makes things happen. If they see even an inch of potential, they are like: “Let’s try it ‘.”

She found ‘action-led’ learning particularly useful. It’s a specific way to facilitate conversations about the challenges that you’re facing. You’ll have five or ten action points by the time you leave.

Ferraz also enjoyed the collaboration and cross pollination that came from working in a cohort. “If you are alone day in and day out, it can be daunting. Being part of a group is empowering. “No one can do everything; that recognition is vital.”

She, her cohort members and others still share ideas with each other and provide in-kind support.

Girls Into Coding grew by 144% after joining the SSE Programme

Tessa Morton had already gained business experience before she launched Act for Autism in Warwickshire, which offers training and workshops for autistic kids, their families, and the local community. She needed help finding funding for the third sector, which she was unfamiliar with. “You can’t expand a business when you’re worried about money,” she told Positive News.

“Because I began to get funding, it allowed me to start thinking about what I wanted and how I wanted navigate the business. We were able take time to write a novel, which gave us an audience. I don’t believe I would have had the confidence in a third sector world to know how to elevate a passion project into a business. I didn’t understand it .”

This place between money and mission will appeal to a wide range of people around the world. We want to find them

Girls Into Coding – a social enterprise founded by Helene Virolan, a mother-daughter team, to provide coding, robotics, and computing workshops for girls – experienced 144 percent growth after joining SSE.

The programme was very beneficial because it covered many topics in terms strategy, from finance to marketing. It allowed us to step back and think about strategy, growth, development, and other important topics. Even after you complete the programme, your work is not over. You can still ask for advice after you become a fellow. It’s an amazing group to be a part of. I highly recommend it .”

Main Image: FatCamera/iStock

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