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.
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 | Leave a comment
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.
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 | Leave a comment
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.
Posted in Enhance social enterprise | Leave a comment
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
Enhance Social Enterprise 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.Enhance social enterprise | Leave a comment
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.
Posted in Enhance social enterprise | Leave a comment
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.
Since marketing and social enterprise first crossed swords the positioning of social purpose in the marketing message has been a bone of contention. There are those that say that when competing in the marketplace, an enterprise’s goods and services should stand on their own merits no matter the business ideology. Other organisations use their social credentials as the foremost message within their mix, defining their purpose before their products. Certainly, traditional profit-driven businesses are softening-off the perception of their own commercial endeavours through showcasing their corporate social enterprise activities. Take Pampers, P&G’s nappy brand which has been in partnership with UNICEF for more than a decade; in making its support for families in the developing world a strong part of its marketing and communication message, it helps to deflect focus from the environmental impact of its products and enables parents to feel better about using disposable.
One challenge is the disconnect between messaging themes of quality and exclusivity and that of social good when marketing a luxury brand. It’s a tough balancing act but can be done when a business really understands their customers. One such success story is ethical water brand Belu who transformed their business by refocusing on the HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants and Catering) sector away from the over-crowded bottled water market. By listening to their customers, they developed a product which is beautifully presented and would complement table settings rather than shout about social purpose credentials. Jamie Oliver’s 15 is another example of the successful blend of quality and social good; the restaurants remain popular as the brand understands that customers primarily visit because of the delicious food served in a convivial environment, not because of the kitchen apprentice programme which provides employment and training to those not necessarily able to access mainstream opportunities.
However, In both examples above the organisation’s social impact is clear and measured; Belu has donated more than £2.2m to WaterAid and Jamie has churned out more than 500 apprentices. So despite not being the main influencing factor in the purchaser’s decision making process, certainly it can be an influencing factor. If you’d like free support about how to measure your social impact, please register with Enhance at www.devon.cc/ese
Posted in Enhance social enterprise | Leave a comment
Competition in the market has been reported as the biggest obstacle to social enterprises achieving success. Ahead of red tape, staff recruitment and Brexit, more than 60% of social entrepreneurs canvassed in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Market Trends 2017 survey felt that competition was the biggest challenge to achieving growth plans.
One way to overcome this challenge is to take a fresh look at your business and honestly evaluate your offer, the price-point, how you position yourself compared with other providers and what makes you different. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place so it’s also an idea to involve your existing customers, previous customers, suppliers and stakeholders to achieve a balanced view. Learning where your strengths and weaknesses are can make establishing your competitive edge much simpler.
For more funded support on how to gain competitive edge for your social enterprise, take a look at the Enhance Social Enterprise web pages http://devon.cc/ese
Blog post by Richard Snell, Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme Manager