- Free business coaching available for Devon businesses
- #WhoKnew social media campaign
11 November is Social Enterprise Day – a day to celebrate the impact and achievements of social enterprises in the UK and around the world.
One Devon charity is supporting this growing sector in the region by providing free business coaching to start-ups and small businesses, including social enterprises.
Devon Communities Together is an independent charity that supports people and communities throughout Devon. It is currently providing free business coaching to start-ups as part of its New Start Devon programme, which is receiving funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
“There’s so much social enterprise going on in Devon”, said Hannah Reynolds, manager of Devon Communities Together’s New Start Devon Enterprise Coaching programme. “Our scheme has seen a 50% rise over the last four months in people developing social enterprises – trading businesses with a social or environment benefit. It seems that over the lockdown, people have been rethinking both their own careers and how they could work to benefit the community too.”
New Start Devon Enterprise Coaching provides 12 hours of free 1:1 and group coaching to help people develop their business idea or grow their business. Contact Hannah Reynolds at Devon Communities Together on 07985 488177 if you would like to find out more.
Nationally, there are 100,000 social enterprises in the country contributing £60 billion to the economy and employing around 2 million people. These are businesses set up to trade for a social and/or environmental purpose, re-investing the majority of their profits to create more impact. They operate in every sector of the economy from coffee carts creating jobs for people who are experiencing homelessness and employee-owned cleaning communities to community owned renewable energy projects and social care providers. Regionally, there are over 2,150 social enterprises in Devon alone.
Devon Communities Together facilitates the Devon Rural Social Enterprise Network, with around 150 members comprising small businesses based in rural Devon. One of the members is WayMakers, a North Devon based Community Interest Company (CIC), which is passionate about improving opportunities, outcomes and neurodiversity inclusion for autistic people, whether diagnosed or not.
When asked what being a social enterprise means to WayMakers, Alex Kelly, Founder and Director, commented: “Choosing to be a social enterprise was a no-brainer for me: by definition, a social enterprise is led by the guiding principles of achieving social impact above all else and so by existing as such, we are wearing our values with pride and visibility. WayMakers exists to benefit our community of clients and their families and to fulfil a passion for equity, inclusion and opportunities. Our work is about connecting with individuals, about capturing a full picture of them as whole people, and together, finding the right springboards that will get them where they want to go in life.”
Recent figures from Social Enterprise UK have shown that in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, social enterprises are a thriving and resilient part of the economy. They are outperforming traditional businesses in both growth and innovation with 44% growing their turnover and a remarkable 66% introducing a new product or service in the last year (compared to 23% of all businesses). Social enterprises are also more representative of the communities they serve and more diverse in terms of women and minority ethnic leadership.
Social enterprises have also been at the heart of community responses to the COVID pandemic. Many pivoted their business models to keep on supporting their communities - setting up vital food delivery services, re-adapting services to cope with the demands of distancing and being on the frontline of supporting people with COVID.
Social Enterprise Day is a chance to acknowledge social enterprises up and down the country and their contribution to their communities. As part of the day Devon Communities Together is taking part in Social Enterprise UK’s #WhoKnew campaign – a digital campaign designed to showcase the impact of the sector and the stories of the people these businesses support and employ.
“We’re pleased to be supporting the #WhoKnew campaign on social media and will be profiling a series of Devon businesses to highlight the amazing work this sector is doing here in Devon,” added Hannah Reynolds. “Social enterprises are all around us and we’re committed to supporting them to thrive.”
For more information on DCT’s enterprise support services, visit: www.devoncommunities.org.uk/services/enterprise-support or follow @DevComsTogether (Twitter), @DevonCommsTogether (Instagram) and @DevonCommunitiesTogether (Facebook and LinkedIn).