Lightbulb in thought bubble on blackboard

Tender opportunity for social economy research in Coventry

The City of Coventry has been invited to submit a proposal to the Local Access Programme, a new fund created by ACCESS – The Foundation for Social Investment and Big Society Capital, to take a place based approach to transforming the social economy through blended finance.

Coventry is one of only 12 places invited to take part in a competitive process, where 5 places will be offered a share of £33m of blended finance to develop a strong social economy.

Coventry Social Enterprise CityThe bid is being developed by Coventry Social Enterprise City Partnership; an informal body made up of Coventry City Council, Coventry University Social Enterprisesectoral support agencies, social enterprise and charity leaders and 2 universities, including Coventry University Social Enterprise. They are now inviting tenders for a research exercise into market opportunities for the social economy in Coventry where sustainable business models might be developed which build the sustainability of charities and social enterprises.

The Brief

The Partnership requires a specialist consultant with the expertise to identify social economy market opportunities. They expect this work will consist of:

  • Undertaking research and analysis of potential market opportunities in Coventry and surrounding areas which have the potential of being delivered by the social economy
  • Engage with relevant stakeholders to understand the local context and direction of travel
  • Presenting to the partnership conclusions in the form of presentation and report

Early discussions have highlighted the following areas may be useful areas to explore:

  • Private Sector (increasing the value of spend by the private sector with social economy organisations)
  • Homelessness & Housing Services
  • City of Culture 2021
  • Young People


A maximum of £10,000 inc expenses

Selection Criteria

  • Excellent track record in research
  • Strong end evidenced understanding of the Social Economy (ideally in Coventry)
  • Ability to identify, quantify and articulate local market opportunities for social economy organisations
  • Willingness to work and consult with key partners and stakeholders
  • Value for money

How to Quote

Please provide a fully costed proposal which sets out:

  • Your approach
  • An indicative work plan
  • Relevant experience
  • How you meet the criteria
  • 2 referees

Send your proposal to Keith Jeffrey, MD of CU Social Enterprise CIC by 5pm on Friday 28th June. You can contact Keith on 07557 425016.


June 28th              Submission Deadline

w/c July 8th          Interviews

Sept 20th               Submission of final report

Devon & Conwall Venus Awards winners

2019 Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards winners announced

Nearly 300 guests, finalists and sponsors from across the South West, attended the Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner of the Devon & Cornwall 2019 Venus Awards, held at the St Mellion resort in Cornwall on 29th March.

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional, and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member. The roll call of nominees, finalists, winners and sponsors is a testament to the growing appeal of the Venus Awards in Devon & Cornwall.

Hosts for the evening’s inspiring celebrations were Tara Howard, founder of Venus Awards, and Alexis Bowater of Bowater Communications.

Every sponsor emphasised the outstanding calibre of their category Finalists when presenting the winner with their “Venus” trophy.

Finalists of Influential Woman category at 2019 Venus Awards

Dr Emily Beaumont of Plymouth Marjon University, Veryan Skinner of Folk2Folk , Lucy Findlay and Alison Jordan of Pete’s Dragons

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was delighted to receive the Influential Woman of the Year award.

“I’m amazed and delighted to win this award. The competition was really fierce and all the women shortlisted were so outstanding in their influencing talents too.

I would like to thank both Venus and Folk2Folk for this opportunity, which especially recognised the work that we have been doing internationally. It’s great for social enterprise to get recognition in a business award and that we can change the face of business on the world platform.”

The Venus Awards were founded in Dorset in 2009 by Tara Howard. Frustrated by the lack of recognition for working women, Tara established the awards to recognise and celebrate the achievements of working women. The event has since expanded to eight regions around the UK, with the 35th ceremony held at the inaugural London Awards at the Waldorf in December 2018.



Defra Year of Green Action Ambassadors

Michael Gove welcomes ambassadors for Year of Green Action

Defra Year of Green ActionEnvironment Secretary Michael Gove MP has welcomed a group of Ambassadors, who have pledged to champion and promote the Year of Green Action; a year-long drive to help everyone get involved in projects that support nature.

The Ambassadors include UN Patron of the Oceans and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh, environmentalist David de Rothschild, TV presenter Jan Leeming, and our own Lucy Findlay.

On welcoming the new Ambassadors at a parliamentary reception, Michael Gove said:

Michael Gove welcomes Year of Green Action Ambassadors“The natural world is our greatest asset and we all have a responsibility and role to play in protecting it for generations to come.

These new ambassadors have shown tremendous passion in their drive for environmental protection and have been tenacious in their desire to raise awareness…I am delighted to have them on board to champion the Year of Green Action and inspire change.”

The Year of Green Action is a year-long initiative to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the environment. It provides a focal point for organisations, individuals, communities and businesses to learn more about their environmental impact, take action to reduce it, and spread the word on environmental issues.

The newly-announced ambassadors are:

  • UN Patron of the Seas Lewis Pugh, an ocean advocate and endurance swimmer;
  • Adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, who sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 2009 on a entirely recyclable boat made using 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles;
  • TV presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming, a keen supporter of environmental issues, who has also spent time working on cheetah conservation projects in South Africa;
  • Ethical lifestyle blogger Besma Whayeb;
  • Sian Conway, Green & Eco Influencer of the Year 2018;
  • Explorer, entomologist, zoologist and broadcaster George McGavin;
  • Professor Tim Jackson, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity;
  • Founded of Earth Changers sustainable travel company Vicky Smith;
  • Blogger and social influencer Izzy McLeod; and
  • Lucy Findlay MBE, Founder of Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh said:

“I have been swimming for 32 years and over that period of time, I’ve seen our oceans change completely. That’s why I am delighted to support the Year of Green Action and help share the importance of protecting our oceans and tackling plastic pollution.

We need urgent action. Our greatest hope is that there are 66 million people in the United Kingdom. Any problem, however colossal, becomes manageable when divided by 66 million. If we all play our part, we can fix this.

The Year of Green Action is a leading pledge from the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, an ambitious blueprint to improve the environment within a generation.

Since its launch in January, the government has outlined ambitious plans to overhaul the waste system and transform household recycling, pledged support for charity Step Up to Serve’s #iwillfornature campaign, and set out plans to protect some of the country’s rarest and most threatened fungi.

Social Entrepreneur Index

Nominations open for UK Social Entrepreneur Index

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is pleased to be supporting the UK Social Entrepreneur Index , a BQ campaign sponsored by UBS, designed to celebrate those entrepreneurs doing things a little differently to make our world a better place.

The UK Social Entrepreneur Index is a celebration of entrepreneurs running businesses with social purposes, with the aim of providing recognition whilst also acting as a benchmark for good practice to inspire the next generation. The index delivers inspiring content through a digital campaign and a series of events and debates across the UK by shining the spotlight on the UK’s most purpose driven entrepreneurs and their businesses.

Eligible social entrepreneurs will work in any field and be tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale from local to international. Entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact, and the Index will be a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK.

Social Entrepreneur Index

Nominations for the inaugural UK Social Entrepreneur Index sponsored by UBS are open now. Submit your nomination at

NUS Placements for Good logo

NUS seeking partner organisations to offer summer placements

Do you want to be part of a new and exciting pilot programme? Be part of the National Union of Students’ new programme – Placements for Good – and work with university level students and increase capacity to progress sustainability.

The NUS is currently seeking organisations and businesses who want to empower students from all backgrounds to innovate and progress sustainability through meaningful work placements. Join a network of organisations working to enhance partnership working with universities whilst exploring potential to make a positive impact.

In return, the NUS will:

  • Take away the hassle of recruitment and ensure you are partnered with talented and highly motivated students
  • Support you and your placement student before (with pre-placement training), during and after the placement to make this a valuable opportunity for all
  • Work with you to design a programme of work that supports your organisation’s core business as well as increasing your capacity to progress the sustainability (environmental and ethical) impacts of your work

In 2019, there are a limited number of universities and colleges taking part in the South, South West and South Wales. During this pilot year, placement partnerships are only open to students from participating institutions to ensure we can provide high quality support and development opportunities.

For more information or to discuss this further, get in touch with Meg Baker – Senior Project Officer, Education for Sustainable Development. To register, please visit:

Bloom procurement services

Opening up public sector procurement to social enterprises

Get your organisation put forward for inclusion on quotation and tender shortlists by UK Public Sector buyers.

Bloom procurement servicesBloom Procurement Services has a different approach to professional services procurement; they specialise in bringing together a community of buyers and suppliers to help the public sector buy professional services better. They are transforming procurement by opening up the way it’s done, giving the best choice for buyers and more business opportunities for suppliers, big or small.

As part of this, Bloom is seeking to promote and support social enterprises to supply professional services into the public sector. In a nutshell, public sector organisations come to Bloom with their requirements and Bloom sources and accredits suppliers on their behalf.

This case study provides an illustration of how Bloom is already working with the Third Sector to promote their services.

They deal with over 230 different public sector bodies and have successfully supported the delivery of over 2,000 projects since their establishment in 2012. They offer a well-established sourcing solution; for example, Bloom provides the only Department of Education recommended professional services sourcing solution for schools and academies. Bloom has also been appointed by Crown Commercial Services, the National Procurement Service for Wales and the North East Purchasing Organisation to source suppliers on behalf of the public sector.

Working with Bloom is free to the supplier, as their management fees are included within the overall price that customers pay.

Interested organisations need to register on Bloom’s e-Sourcing platform Provide 2.0. Registration is free and simple, based on a self-certification of the organisation’s capabilities.

Bloom contact detailsJo Parkes-Newton and Chris Tuart at Bloom are working to grow and co-ordinate their existing Third Sector supply Chain. They are available to help you complete the registration process.


Semi-Finalists announced for Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards

Last week, Plymouth Gin hosted 100 applicants, guests and sponsors at their venue, for the announcement of the names of those progressing to the Semi-Finalist stage of the 2019 Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards.

The eighty five successful Semi-Finalists will now go through to the next stage of the judging process, and the finalists will be announced on 8th February.  The Awards will culminate in a glamorous Ceremony and Gala Dinner on 29th March.

Venus Devon & Cornwall Awards semi-finalist badgeLucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was shortlisted in the Influential Woman of the Year category, along with Dr Emily Beaumont of Social Enterprise Mark holder Plymouth Marjon University.

Lucy is delighted to be shortlisted for the awards again this year, after being a finalist in two categories in 2018. “The competition is fierce and it’s brilliant to be recognised as a semi-finalist in the Influential Woman category. The semi-finalists in this category all demonstrate that women are leading the way and making a difference at local, national and international levels!

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as The Working Womens Oscars – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member. To provide extra help for our nominees and other working women, the Venus movement has recently launched The Venus Business School, an exciting new initiative offering invaluable support for female entrepreneurs and working women in the areas of confidence, communication, leadership and stress/time management.

Venus Awards Devon & Cornwall is now in its 6th year, and the response remains consistently strong with more than 1,100 nominations and 340 applications. The Devon & Cornwall participants are competing in 15 categories, including Woman in Property/Construction, Small Business of the Year, Inspirational Woman in STEMM and Business Mother of the Year.

This year’s Charity Sponsors are the Devon Air Ambulance and Cornwall Air Ambulance  The aim of Devon Air Ambulance is to help save ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances: parents, partners, children. Nobody chooses to have an emergency, but thanks to the crucial support of the Devon community, they can be there when it matters most. Cornwall Air Ambulance flies more than 700 missions every year bringing vital emergency medical treatment in minutes to patients across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It does not receive any government support for these missions and relies on the generosity of its supporters.

Brand preview 2019

In a year of uncertainty,
it’s time for clarity

As we start a new year, there are undoubtedly both challenges and opportunities ahead for social enterprises. Whatever the next 12 months brings for the UK economy, it is likely to be influenced by factors beyond your control. What you can control is how you respond.

Jonathan AlderIn an atmosphere of confusion and doubt, the ability to communicate clearly will help you to stand out. Jonathan Alder of brand agency Alder and Alder has created a free brand preview for social enterprises, which shares insights into the factors that will be most influential in helping you to do that. The aim is to help you communicate more efficiently and more effectively, by focusing on what’s most important.

The preview takes a look at the year ahead and explores the key brand issues that social enterprises need to consider, and suggestions for how to respond to these.

Click here to download the Brand Preview 2019.



We are supporting the
MadeAtUni campaign

Social enterprise universitiesWe are proud to accredit a number of UK universities as social enterprises, which are committed to enhancing the social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of their communities, society and the world around them.

We recognise the important contribution that universities can make to people, lives and communities across the UK, and therefore welcome the launch of the MadeAtUni campaign today, which celebrates the significant role that universities play in everyone’s day-to-day life.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “Alongside teaching, universities play a much wider role in being part of  local communities and making the world a better place. This is why we have awarded the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark to those that can prove it.

We are pleased to support the MadeAtUni campaign, which will hopefully highlight the amazing and varied contribution that universities make to society.”

For the launch, Universities UK has compiled the UK’s Best Breakthroughs List, which highlights 100 examples of universities are improving lives and enriching our world. From pioneering health discoveries and technological innovations to environmental initiatives, community projects and contributions to art, culture and sport, the list brings to life the many ways universities are improving our everyday lives.

We are delighted that several of our Mark holder universities feature in the list:

To find out more about how universities are offering solutions to local, regional and global challenges, visit the MadeAtUni website.

Living Wage Employer badge

It’s Living Wage Week 2018

Living Wage Week 2018

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, we are proud to support Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November), a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

The UK Living Wage rate has increased by 25p to £9, with the London Living Wage rising by 35p an hour to £10.55 an hour. The Living Wage rates are the only rates independently calculated based on what people need to live in the UK and London. The 2018 increases have been largely driven by higher transport costs, private rents and council tax feeding through to the basket of goods and services that underpin the rates.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As the standard-bearer for the social enterprise sector, it is important to us to achieve independent recognition of our own business practices. This is why we are proud to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer, part of a network of 4,700+ businesses that have proven their commitment to paying a real living wage that meets the real cost of living.”

Tess Lanning, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “The Living Wage campaign is about tackling the rising problem of people paid less than they need to live. Responsible businesses know that the government minimum is not enough to live on, and today’s new Living Wage rates will provide a boost for hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the UK.

“Employers that pay the real Living Wage enable their workers to live a life of dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and meet the pressures of rising bills. We want to see local councils, universities, football clubs, bus companies and the other major public and private sector employers in every city commit to become real Living Wage employers. When they do, thousands of people get a pay rise, but other local employers also follow their lead. If more of these institutions step up, we can start to build true Living Wage places.”

For more information about Living Wage Week go to below video explains how you can become an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Become a Living Wage Employer from Living Wage Foundation on Vimeo.

School for Social Entrepreneurs

Funded courses for social enterprises in Devon and Somerset

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington is delighted to announce that applications are now open for two innovative new courses for social entrepreneurs in Devon and Somerset.

The courses are fully funded and provide a fantastic opportunity for social enterprises, charities, community businesses and third sector organisations that are looking to start or develop in the region.

Start Up Intensive Somerset 2018

School for Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Intensive course

This fully funded three-day start-up intensive programme is for anyone with a social enterprise idea and will give an introduction to starting and setting up a social business, giving the extra support needed to get started. Students will learn about business planning, identifying customers and start to think about measuring social impact. Day-long intensive study sessions with social enterprise witnesses, and expert workshop sessions will provide specialist tools and techniques.

“It’s been a really great process and we’ve come out of it, all of us, I think, very much stronger.” Sarah Milner-Symonds – The People’s Plot/Eat Festivals. SSE Fellow – Somerset.

Deadline for applications: 2nd September 2018

The course will be run in Taunton. Full programme details and application form can be found here.

Devon and Somerset Development Programme

School for Social Entrepreneurs Devon and Somerset courses

This is a fully funded 8-day programme, worth over £2,500 in development support. It is a course for established enterprises to delve deeper and spend time exploring their revenue generation options and strategy.

“The networking has been fantastic, worth its weight in gold… The action learning sets are fantastic, and we’re continuing with ours in Somerset now that the course is over.” Kris Scotting – Founder, Seed of Hope, SSE Fellow – Somerset.

Deadline for applications: 9th September 2018

The course will be run in Exeter. Full programme details and application form can be found here.

Jane Hutt appointed as Patron of Credit Unions of Wales

Leading Welsh politician wants to make Wales a ‘credit union nation’

Leading Welsh politician Jane Hutt AM is calling on people in Wales to join her in making the country a ‘credit union nation’.

Speaking after her appointment as Patron of Credit Unions of Wales alongside actor Michael Sheen, Ms Hutt said that credit unions were the ethical choice for all;

“The fact that credit unions offer an ethical and affordable way of saving and borrowing for all of us is key,” she said. “But they are also a way we can contribute to the whole community – including those who are experiencing hardship, debt and poverty. It is universal; we can all take part, we can all benefit and we can all help underpin this ethical borrowing and saving service for those who need it as an alternative to payday loans.”

She added that she would “work tirelessly to support the movement to make Wales a credit union nation.”

Ms Hutt joins existing Credit Unions of Wales Patron, actor Michael Sheen, and the appointment will see the two collaborate to raise awareness and membership of the country’s 18 not-for-profit, community savings and affordable loans providers across Wales.

Leanne Herberg, CEO of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union said: “Jane Hutt has been a long-standing supporter and member of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union and the wider movement across Wales and so we are delighted that she has agreed to take up this patronage.”

The sentiments were echoed by Nicola Field, manager of Bridgend Lifesavers Credit Union who added: “As the longest serving Labour minister in the UK and an outstanding advocate of social justice, Ms Hutt will be a tremendous asset to Credit Unions of Wales and we look forward to working with her.”

Credit Unions of Wales work to improve the financial wellbeing of those in their communities. Well-known for offering a more affordable alternative to high interest lenders, Credit Unions of Wales have forged strong links with more than 140 employers across Wales.

Organisations involved in the Payroll Partner scheme work to improve the financial wellbeing of staff by offering the opportunity to save or repay a loan with a credit union directly from their salary.

For further details about Credit Unions of Wales visit

Social UP project

Research report: design thinking for sustainable social enterprises

Innovative and high-impact solutions for social problems

Social UP research reportThe first phase of the Social UP project has been completed, and a research report is now available, which analyses the needs and challenges of social enterprises, presents relevant methods and tools of Design Thinking (DT) for increasing social impact, and considers ways to enhance creative problem-solving and innovation skills through DT-based online learning.

Findings are based on extensive quantitative and qualitative research and input across different stakeholders, in UK, Finland, Greece and Spain.

Social economies employ over 11 million people in the EU, accounting for 6% of total employment. The burgeoning interest in social entrepreneurship across Europe has been driven by the recognition of the role social enterprises can play in tackling societal challenges, austerity measures and ongoing withdrawal of public agencies from supplying social services in tandem with new and growing social needs.

According to the European Commission, social enterprises in Europe are expected to constitute a dynamic entrepreneurial movement encapsulating the drive for new business models that combine economic activity with social mission and the promotion of inclusive growth.

Still, survival and growth of social enterprises is hindered by several internal key constraints:

  • lack of viable business models;
  • high reliance on the public sector as a source of income;
  • lack of entrepreneurial spirit, skills and specialised advisory services.

The Social UP (Erasmus+ co-funded project) aims to improve sustainability and scalability of social enterprises to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner, by cultivating Design Thinking culture, adapted to their own needs. As a human-centered, experimental and interdisciplinary approach, Design Thinking offers social entrepreneurs opportunities to create innovative solutions rooted in people’s actual needs, and, as such, the possibility to unlock the real impact.

On the basis of the research findings, the project will now progress to design and develop the Design Thinking Field Guide for Social Enterprises, an online toolkit to support social enterpreneurs’ and wantrepreneurs’ knowledge and skills to use Design Thinking and increase their competitiveness and growth but also assist enterprise advisers and developers, vocational education trainers (VET) and Design Thinking experts to support social enterprises in the process.

Special thanks to all parties who have contributed to this research by sharing their experiences, expertise and knowledge, all taken into count in the the development of the learning material.

 Access the full report here

Executive summaries in Finnish, Greek, Spanish are available here

Find out more at the official website

Like us on Facebook DesignThinkingSocialUP

Follow us on Twitter @DTSocialUP

Living Wage Employer badge

It’s Living Wage Week

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, we are proud to support Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November), a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

We welcome the increase in UK and London rates announced by the Living Wage Foundation this morning, and commit to paying this real Living Wage – independently calculated to meet the cost of living –  to all employees.

Living Wage Week

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As a Living Wage Employer we proudly fly the flag for the Living Wage Week campaign to ensure that employees can actually live on what they earn, no matter where they live or how old they are.”

“To us at Social Enterprise Mark CIC, it’s important to get the proper recognition for this and we are pleased to be working with the Living Wage Foundation to highlight the need for transparent accreditation via our #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “Year-on-year, we see organisations and businesses across the UK embracing the real Living Wage as they recognise that a fair day’s pay is not only the right thing so to but can improve the quality of staff’s work, reduce absenteeism and increase motivation and retention.”

“Today’s increase acknowledges that the cost of living continues to rise for workers everywhere and the leadership shown by businesses who welcome this is a cause for celebration during Living Wage Week, sending a positive message to the business community to show what others can achieve.”    

For more information about Living Wage Week go to

Living Wage Week 2017 from Living Wage Foundation on Vimeo.

WISE100 launch

Lucy Findlay named among top women in social enterprise

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark CICWe were delighted to discover last week that Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, is included on the inaugural WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100) index, which recognises inspirational women in social enterprise.

A new initiative from NatWest SE100, the WISE100 was launched at a special event in London last week.  The index is the first of its kind, and aims to recognise the invaluable contribution of 100 of the most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation.

Responding to the news, Lucy said “I’m honoured to have been recognised as part of the first inspiring WISE100. Women are taking the lead in so many ways in the social enterprise world and it’s important that this is acknowledged and celebrated.”

Lucy was also delighted to be joined on the list by female leaders of several Social Enterprise Mark holders, including Julie Hawker from Cosmic, Amy and Ruth Anslow from hiSbe, and Kate Welch from Social Enterprise Acumen. More than 250 women were nominated for the index, with the final list selected by a panel of judges. The full list can be found here.

The social sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality; in the UK, over 40% of social enterprises are led by women, and more than half of all social enterprises have a majority female workforce*. In comparison, just 6% of FTSE100 companies have female leaders. The WISE100 initiative is therefore important because it will help to inspire other sectors to diversify their workforce, bringing benefits not just to women but to business in general.


* State of Social Enterprise 1027 report

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark

Have we reached the point of diminishing social return?

Lucy Findlay responds to the 2017 State of Social Enterprise Report

State of Social Enterprise 2017 - Social Enterprise UK

State of Social Enterprise 2017 – Social Enterprise UK

The 2017 State of Social Enterprise report was launched by Social Enterprise UK last week.  The findings around profitability got me thinking.  Apparently, larger social enterprises are more likely to make a profit; 72% of those with more than 100 employees, compared with 45% of those with less than 10.  I guess that this is not that surprising as economies of scale are achieved and therefore likely greater margins. Of course, 100 employees is still regarded an SME by government definitions.

Profitability of is only part of the story for social enterprises, and as this survey highlights, it’s impossible to report on the measurement of social impact and the ideal size of business to deliver to maximise this.  This is a perennial conundrum for the social enterprise sector.  When does the law of ‘diminishing social impact returns’ kick in?  Are local social enterprises better at delivering local services because they know the patch, and can they still do a good job when they upscale? That is, when do they start to demonstrate some of the negative characteristics we see in corporate delivery (e.g. lack of personal service, flexibility, understanding of local conditions etc)?

The need to scale up is also a challenge for social enterprises that wish to trade with the public and corporate sectors. To gain a place on the ‘preferred supplier register’ there is often a requirement to deliver a consistent service over a large area.  The report shows that there has been some progress in terms of consortia and replication, particularly in London, with 29% part of a consortium and 18% replicating their work.  But this remains a major barrier in terms of trading in today’s climate that sees big as being better.  What price for social value?

Another concern is the continuing high reliance on public sector for profitability, particularly for large social enterprises (although it has fallen from 57% to 51% since the last report). I highlighted this in a previous blog back in 2015.  In a climate where the public sector is still facing major cuts, diversification is key.  We need to spread our wings and think as laterally as possible, rather than just expecting commissioners to change.  Anecdotal evidence from our Mark holders shows that commissioners are becoming more risk averse, not less, with some services delivered by the social enterprise sector retreating back into the NHS for example or being delivered by a bigger player whether the service is better for patients or not.

All that being said, I was very encouraged to see that “almost four-fifths of social enterprises use their social enterprise status in marketing their products and services (37% to a great extent, 40% to some extent). Only 6% do not use it at all. This continues a pattern seen since 2011 when only 53% of social enterprises used their status Social Enterprise Markin their marketing in some way.”

It’s great to see that social enterprises are becoming louder and prouder about their USP and what better way to prove your social enterprise credentials that applying for the Social Enterprise Mark!


Helping consumers and businesses to do good business

Beyond the Badge campaign partnersWith research showing that public trust in business is declining, we have teamed up with other independent Standard Bodies that set and assess genuine and transparent standards that help consumers cut through the barrage of branding and use their purchasing power for good.

We are calling on consumers to go ‘Beyond the Badge’ and look out for credible independent labels as proof that a business is living up to its claims.

By supporting our #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign, consumers and businesses can stand up for:

  • a growing movement of businesses serious about making change for good and proud to prove it
  • the values and standards that are managed by an independent standards body with real expertise in their sector

We are proud to be working with a group of standard setting bodies that share common values and principles in our approach to accreditation. Each organisation is responsible for an independent accreditation/certification scheme. We are united by a common focus of setting and overseeing robust, credible and transparent standards for businesses. These cover a range of industries, from food and drink to construction! Click here to find out more about our campaign partners.

Beyond the Badge pledge

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*We will add you to our supporters mailing list, which we send regular updates to about our network of accredited social enterprises and our accreditation services. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email.


NatWest WISE100 highlights women’s leading role in social enterprise sector

Nominations for the first NatWest WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise) have recently opened to recognise 100 leading women in social enterprise. Created by the NatWest SE100 Index, the WISE100 highlights the leading role of women in the social enterprise sector.

The social enterprise sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality, with 40% of social enterprises led by women, compared with just 6% of the companies on the FTSE1001. While more work remains to be done to create true gender equality in business, it’s encouraging that the social enterprise sector is leading in this respect. The WISE100 will recognise the valuable contribution women make to the social enterprise sector and will highlight their achievements to the social enterprise and wider business community.

The WISE100 list is open to anyone who wishes to nominate one or more women working in the social enterprise sector. Nominations can be made via the NatWest WISE100 website. It is also possible to self nominate and nominations are free to place. Nominations close on 31 August 2017.

Entries will be judged on the merit of the nomination and will address how inspiring and impactful the nominee is. An all-female judging panel will agree a final WISE100 List and those selected will be invited to a celebration of their achievements in London in October.

Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, Business Banking at NatWest, commented:  “The WISE100 will be the first time the role of women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation will be formally recognised in such a way.  The list, a new initiative from the NatWestSE100, will recognise the crucial role women play in the social enterprise sector, as well as aiming to inspire other sectors to diversify their workforce, bringing benefits to women and the business community at large.”


1.  State of the Social Enterprise Report 2015, Social Enterprise UK.

Social UP project

What challenges do social enterprises face?

As part of the Social UP project, which aims to improve the sustainability, social impact and scalability of social enterprises, to enable them to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner, we are inviting you to participate in a questionnaire to identify the key needs and challenges of social enterprises, how these challenges are addressed, and to investigate how the challenges could be addressed.

Responses will be used to develop an open access training material, to enhance competitiveness and profitability, and also to respond to the social mission of social enterprises. The training material, using principles of Design Thinking, will be aimed at social enterprises, advisers of social enterprises, vocational trainers, social partners and social enterprise associations.

There are 2 different questionnaires, dependent on your organisation:

Completing the questionnaire takes approximately 15 minutes. All information will be treated confidentially and no personal information will be disclosed or be otherwise used except for research purposes explained.

Are you interested in learning more about the benefits Design Thinking can offer and discover which tools can help your organisation?

We are offering a FREE ‘Design Thinking for Social Enterprises’ workshop for a limited number of participants. If interested, please leave your contact information at the end of questionnaire.

For further information, please contact Rachel Brown.

We appreciate your support in contributing towards the Social UP project!

NatWest SE100

NatWest SE100 announce shortlist for Social Business Awards

SE100 AwardsNow in its 7th year, the leading market intelligence resource for social ventures, the NatWest SE100 Index, has announced the shortlist for its 2016/17 Social Business Awards.

Revealed at the annual Good Deals social investment conference on 13th November, a total of 26 organisations have been shortlisted, celebrating the most inspiring and effective social enterprise leaders, and the strength, impact and resilience of the sector in the UK. The shortlist includes Social Enterprise Mark holders Furniture Resource Centre (FRC), Manor House Development Trust, and Pembrokeshire FRAME Ltd.

Each of these organisations have been shortlisted for the Impact Champion award, and Simon Donovan of Manor House Development Trust has also been shortlisted for the Leadership Champion award.

Shaun Doran, FRC Group

Shaun Doran, FRC Group

Shaun Doran, CEO of FRC, said: “We are delighted to be once again shortlisted for an SE100 Social Business Award. It means a great deal to us to be recognised nationally as an organisation that helps makes a real difference and changes people’s lives.”

“Our vision is of a society where people can obtain good quality, affordable furniture without experiencing the devastating impacts of furniture poverty – no bed to sleep on or unmanageable debts. Our mission is to reduce and ultimately eradicate furniture poverty, campaigning to raise awareness and create practical solutions to get furniture to people who need it. This award nomination really helps to draw attention to the problem.”

Jennifer Sims, CEO of Pembrokeshire FRAME said: “It is not easy to explain all the good that we do, so the SE100 index is important to us as it allows us to showcase our activities and benchmark ourselves against other social enterprises across the UK.” 

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest, said: “The SE100 Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the very best in UK social enterprise. This year’s strong shortlist showcases the vibrancy and diversity of these businesses, which are making our economy more successful and our communities stronger. NatWest has been a proud supporter of the sector for many years and we look forward to welcoming all of those shortlisted to the Awards ceremony in January.”

Tim West, CEO of Matter&Co and founder of the SE100, said: “Running any business is challenging – running a business that changes people’s lives and stays profitable at the same time is nothing short of miraculous. This year’s SE100 shortlist is making miracles happen for people and communities all around the country. We look forward to learning how they do it and sharing their stories, as we select our winners over the coming months.”

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony in London on Thursday 19th January 2017, to celebrate the achievements of all the fantastic social change makers on the Index.

Awards winners will receive a professionally produced winners film about their organisation to use across future PR and marketing collateral, a beautiful SE100 trophy created by social enterprise artists, and a share of cash prizes totalling £6,000.

Best of luck to all of the shortlisted organisations. For more information please visit the SE100 website.

Growing consumer appetite for brands with social purpose

we-logo-colorUK consumers, especially the younger generation, would pay more for products/services with a clear social purpose, according to a recent report from communications agency WE.

The report, based on a a study of 2,000 UK consumers by YouGov, showed a growing consumer appetite for organisations that demonstrate a social purpose and how they are having a positive impact on society.

The key findings include:

  • UK consumers would pay on average 10% more for a product/service if they think it would have a positive impact on society
  • 40% of consumers already regard sustainability as important when making purchase decisions
  • The younger generation is more prepared than any other age groups to support ‘better’ products/services

SE_BRAND_APPROVED_RGBThis represents an opportunity for social sector organisations to reach a growing number of ‘socially-minded’ consumers by articulating and communicating their social purpose and the benefits they create for society and the environment.

By applying for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation, you can prove the positive impact your business creates, and promote your credentials as an independently guaranteed social enterprise, committed to trading for the good of people and planet.

Finance for Social Sector Organisations

Please click here to access the survey in a new window

Create your own user feedback survey

Response to Big Lottery Fund Consultation

We recently submitted a response to a public consultation from the Cabinet Office, which is seeking opinions on proposed new policy directions for the allocation of Big Lottery Funds in England, Isle of Man and UK-wide funding programmes.

Big Lottery Fund (BLF) receives 40% of the £1.8 billion ‘good causes’ money generated through the National Lottery each year. This amounts to around £700 million annually to improve lives throughout the UK. It is the single largest funder of UK civil society. Ministers issue all lottery distributors with policy directions, setting out the priorities they must take into account when distributing this money. This consultation is seeking views on the proposed new policy directions for BLF.

As the guardians of social enterprise standards, we feel strongly that organisations that have proven their commitment to creating social value should be given higher visibility in the policy direction priorities. Social enterprise is a form of business that creates lasting sustainability through its business approach, and is dedicated to maximising the social value derived from investment, above that of shareholder profit.  One suggestion we made in our response was that the Social Enterprise Mark could help identify these businesses, as proven and independently guaranteed social enterprises.

Below is a summary of the key messages contained in our response to the consultation.

BLF should not:

  • fund social entrepreneurs and social business that do not have:
    • clear social mission
    • an asset lock commitment
    • a restriction on profit distribution
  • fund projects that do not have a rigorous and realistic business plan, to provide long term sustainability
  • use valuable resources to prop up failing social investment initiatives

BLF should:

  • have a strong message about supporting social enterprises that can demonstrate true financial and long term sustainability – income generation by supported projects should be encouraged
  • support awardees to demonstrate, promote and market their whole social impact more widely than just for their own lottery funding
  • should accept earned and in kind income as match funding sources from the grant recipient itself
  • encourage as wide an impact as possible and give consideration to an international dimension, not limited to exchange of good practice but also wider commercial and partnership opportunities

We feel there is much scope for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation to be utilised in assessing requirements for the distribution of BLF funds.

The consultation is open until Friday 12th August. For more information and to respond, please visit the Cabinet Office website.

UK’s first in-depth Social Impact Survey launches today

Social ventures across the UK encouraged to offer experience and insight to maximise impact

A landmark Social Impact Survey, designed to uncover awareness and attitudes to impact measurement and maximise social performance among frontline social ventures, launches today across the UK.

The Buzzacott Social Impact Survey is the first ever in-depth survey of UK charities and social enterprises to establish what they are doing to measure their social impact and maximise their social performance, and what they think about the challenges and opportunities around impact measurement.

The initiative is being led by a consortium of organisations committed to building the capacity and impact of the social sector, including Buzzacott Chartered Accountants, The Good Economy Partnership and Matter&Co.

Eddie Finch, Charity Partner, Buzzacott, said: “This survey provides an important opportunity to engage with social enterprises and charities to help them maximise their impact and shape best practice from their perspective on the front line. Giving social enterprises and charities the chance to have their opinions heard is vital to overcoming barriers within the sector.”

Sarah Forster, CEO of The Good Economy Partnership, said: “We are keen to learn what value social ventures see in impact measurement and whether it is a practical help in managing your organisation.”

Tim West, CEO of Matter&Co, said: “To date, much of the debate around impact measurement has been dominated by investors and consultants, rather than frontline organisations. For many social ventures, impact measurement remains a real stumbling block; it can seem expensive, confusing and takes attention away from the real business of getting the social mission delivered. At the same time, understanding how you are doing – and how you can do better – is crucial for every mission-driven organisation.”

Results from the Buzzacott Social Impact Survey will be published in a special report and film, to share the learning and help improve the way in which social ventures are measuring and demonstrating social value. Questions and analysis will focus on how impact measurement supports organisations in delivering on their mission, exploring how well social ventures understand the concept, what information needs drive data collection, the tools they have used to do it, the level of resource they commit to it, how they verify their findings, the issues or barriers they have faced, and the changes they would like to see to current approaches.

The survey also asks about the value of impact information to their organisation both internally, in terms of operational and strategic decision-making, and externally, in terms of applying for funding or investment.

The survey will run for six weeks, closing on 19th September. Initial results will be shared at the Good Deals social investment conference in November, with a full report published in early 2017.

The survey is confidential and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Please click here to take part in the survey.

Social Enterprise

NatWest SE100 Business Awards 2016/17

SE100 AwardsWANTED: Bosses on a mission!

Hunt is on for UK’s most inspiring social enterprise leaders – as entries open for NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards 2016/17

A talent search with a difference got underway today to find the UK’s best social enterprise bosses. Thousands of charities, social enterprises and responsible businesses are being encouraged to nominate their most inspiring and effective leaders, in the annual NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards.

The search for leaders driving business success for a social purpose forms the brand new category of ‘Leadership Champion’ in this year’s SE100 Social Business Awards, which also celebrate star performers in six further categories – from ‘Growth’ to ‘Storytelling’.

Also new this year is the NatWest Customer Champion, which will see relationship managers across the bank nominate their own stars from the thousands of charity and social enterprise customers they support.

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest said: “Social Businesses make a massive difference to communities across the UK, and it’s the inspiring people behind them which allows this to happen. We want to recognise their achievements and celebrate their success.”

Tim West, Director of Matter&Co and founder of the SE100 said: “This new leadership award is not about hero worship. It is about celebrating and learning from those people who demonstrate that special combination of energy, focus, resilience, business savvy and commitment to social change that drives their teams both to make money and make a difference. I’m really excited to see who will be on our shortlist.”

How to enter the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards

The NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards are open to all social ventures across the UK. To enter, organisations need to have completed their profile on the SE100 Index, including providing standard financial information and details on their social impact.

Once completed, organisations are automatically entered in to the Growth, Impact and Trailblazing Newcomer awards. The Resilience, Storyteller and Leadership awards require completed nomination forms, available to download here. The NatWest Customer award shortlist will be drawn up by the bank.

The deadline for nominations for the Resilience, Storyteller, Leadership and Customer awards is midnight on Sunday 25th September.  Organisations must sign up to the Index and complete their profile by the same deadline to be eligible for the 2016 NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards.

Shortlisted organisations will be announced at the Good Deals conference on November 14th and 15th, the UK’s leading Social Investment conference. All shortlisted organisations will be invited to attend this event for free to celebrate the success of the sector.

Visit for further details on how to take part.


Working in partnership with Social Enterprise Mark holders

Iridescent IdeasWe are pleased to announce that Social Enterprise Mark CIC has been confirmed as a new partner of the Forerunner Prize, which was launched in May by Social Enterprise Mark holder Iridescent Ideas.

The Forerunner Prize is aimed at budding social entrepreneurs looking to do exciting things with technology. The winner will receive a a £5,000 prize package to help them develop a tech led social enterprise idea. The partnership with Social Enterprise Mark CIC will help the successful winner create a strong social enterprise. Our MD Lucy Findlay will also be part of the judging panel deciding on the winner.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC joins existing partners Francis Clark, Tribe Media, and fellow Social Enterprise Mark holder University of St Mark & St John.

Paul Read, Director of Iridescent Ideas said: “We are delighted that a prestigious company of internationally standing and credibility such as the Social Enterprise Mark CIC is backing The Forerunner Prize.”

“Their knowledge, networks and experience will be invaluable in developing this prize and supporting the successful applicant.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark said: “​Social Enterprise Mark CIC is excited to be supporting Iridescent Ideas with the Forerunner Prize, to promote social enterprise as a business solution to tackling social and/or environmental issues.”

“The Forerunner Prize will enable budding social entrepreneurs who have a tech-led solution to existing social challenges to develop their idea and have a positive impact on society.”

“Iridescent Ideas itself is an accredited social enterprise, awarded the Social Enterprise Mark – proof that it is committed to creating benefits for people and the planet.  As the guardians of credible standards for social enterprise, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Iridescent Ideas and other local organisations to provide specialist support and guidance to the award winner.”

The Forerunner Prize is open to applications until September 2nd 2016. For more information, and to apply, please visit the Forerunner Prize website.

Is Social Sector Data Driven? Or Data Driven Mad?

Those of us who run social enterprises and charities collect and use lots of data for all kinds of purposes. Many would argue there’s too much. Business experts tell us we could be sitting on a goldmine if only we could harness this amazing resource.  Yet the reality is that many are stumbling around in blizzards of data which is onerous and frustrating to collect and analyse, and often delivers information which isn’t meaningful, useful, or reliable for decision makers.

Social enterprise Data Orchard CIC has found there are social sector organisations, big and small, using data to do powerful and transformational things. These organisations say data is helping them be smarter, more effective, and more influential. More often though, social entrepreneurs and charity leaders admit that they know data is important and valuable, but they just don’t know how to make it work for their cause and their business. They are grappling with all kinds of data (e.g. from spreadsheets, databases, CRM systems, survey tools, web and social media analytics…plus other research and information sources.) Indeed, some still collect data on paper forms and keep them in filing cabinets.

“It’s difficult to make sense of the data. When we pull it all together it’s like comparing apples, oranges, and bananas”

“We spend so much time and energy collecting data to report to commissioners and funders we don’t have any capacity left to think about how data can shape our own future.”

“We collect lots of data but just haven’t got the skills or tools to analyse it. We’re data rich but information poor.”

The Data Evolution project is trying to find out where social enterprises are at on the data journey, what challenges are faced and what help they need?

They are asking social entrepreneurs to complete a very short (5 minutes) online survey. There is the chance to win £100 for your social enterprise and the opportunity to access a more detailed analysis of where your organisation stands with data.

Liverpool Social Economy Panel welcomes Minister for Civil Society

Social Enterprise Network (SEN) recently welcomed Rob Wilson MP, the Minister for Civil Society, to address its new Social Economy Panel in Liverpool, on Thursday 12th May.

Leading figures in the local social economy, including representatives from the Heseltine Institute, Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 and others, met with Rob Wilson MP, to discuss the growing social and community enterprise sector in the City Region – and how this can be developed and sustained for the future.

SEN LiverpoolSEN has led the way on social economy issues in the region in recent years, and in the last 12 months has launched its Masterclass programme of business advice for social entrepreneurs, in addition to the Liverpool Soup project to fund new social projects. Its new Social Economy Panel will be meeting regularly to work on new initiatives for the region, whilst also promoting the brilliant work being done by social enterprises locally.

Rosie Jolly, Chief Executive of SEN, said: “It was great to welcome the Minister for Civil Society to the city to see first-hand some of the work that our members are doing, and to discuss with the panel of practitioners some ways of improving and expanding their service provision. Our members and associates are working hard to improve lives and it is fantastic to see government taking more of an interest in the work they do.”

While in Liverpool, Rob Wilson MP took the opportunity to promote the Cabinet Office’s current call for evidence on mission-led businesses. The Social Economy Panel is making a joint submission to the call for evidence, and is keen to ensure that the mission-led business review is an opportunity to help the social enterprise sector in Liverpool and beyond.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21, said: “As a national social enterprise, Fusion21 is committed to supporting the creation of social value within Liverpool and across the UK – this can range from tackling worklessness, to supporting apprenticeships, or reducing reoffending.”

“We work closely with the Social Economy Panel to develop and share innovation in social value policy and practice – and meeting Rob Wilson MP was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what is being achieved by ourselves, and other organisations within the city.”

Responses to the Cabinet Office’s Call for Evidence can be made at:


Social Enterprise Network supports the development and growth of social entrepreneurship across the north west of England and north Wales, raising both levels of engagement and trading ability of social enterprise businesses to enhance their economic viability, sustainability, social and environmental impact and contribution to the local economy. For more information, please visit


Social Enterprise

NatWest SE100 launches Social Business Club

Last night saw the launch of the NatWest SE100 Social Business Club, the new business support club offering insight, inspiration, expertise and peer learning for social enterprises on the NatWest SE100 Index.

SE100 Social Business ClubThe Club was launched at an evening event hosted by NatWest to announce this year’s Cabinet Office Social Investment Awards, which highlight the impact of social investment and celebrate UK’s world leading social investors and social enterprises.

Open to all social ventures signed up to the NatWest SE100 Index, the NatWest SE100 Social Business Club aims to help social businesses get the advice and resources they need to thrive and grow – from investment and leadership to HR and marketing.

It was born out of a desire to offer greater support to the community of more than 1,300 social ventures that has grown up over the years as the NatWest SE100 Index has developed.

The NatWest SE100 Social Business Club offers:

  • Free attendance at a series of SE100 Insight events held in different locations around the UK, to build capacity and share learning around being a better social enterprise
  • A rich stream of online written and video content focusing on social business management, including expert advice and case studies from the front line
  • Peer-to-peer comparisons of how your social venture is doing ¬– geographically and by market sector – in terms of both business and social performance
  • An invitation to apply for the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards, and to attend this year’s events celebration
  • A range of further benefits, including discounted conference tickets, discounted fees for NatWest Social & Community Capital loans, and free webinars from NatWest Mentor service to help you manage your social business

Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of Business Banking, NatWest, said: “Running a social enterprise can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be challenging and at times, lonely. We want to create a community to support the hundreds of social business owners who are members of the NatWest SE100. Our aim is to bring together like-minded social entrepreneurs to share their skills and experience and to get access to relevant events and information. We want them to share best practice and insights and to encourage and inspire one another.”

Tim West, CEO of Matter&Co, the communications agency that created the NatWest SE100 Index said: “Whether it’s motivating your team, finding finance to grow, developing a strong brand or measuring your impact – there are so many key aspects to building a great social business. The NatWest SE100 Social Business Club aims to help social ventures learn and grow together through a programme of inspiring but very practical events and content. It’s great that NatWest are once again putting their energy, commitment and business knowledge behind supporting UK social enterprise in this way.”

For more information on the NatWest Social Business Club and what it offers, please visit

National Apprenticeship Week 2016

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we are supporting the #PasstheTorch campaign.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC took on our first Apprentice in December. Lara Wylie, who joined the team as Customer Relations Assistant, is enrolled on a Level 2 Business and Administration Apprenticeship through City College Plymouth. On completion of the Level 2 qualification, Lara intends to enrol on the Level 3 Apprenticeship, with a long term view to study for a degree via the Open University.


The driving force of the Pass the Torch campaign is an Olympic-style torch which represents the passing on of Apprenticeship and Employer knowledge. The torch is making an appearance at a wide variety of business events from February to May. Employers are asked to pledge their support for apprenticeships and traineeships, showcasing their commitment to the government’s target to reach 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

To pledge support you can:


Fusion21Social Enterprise Mark holder Fusion21 is also supporting the campaign, and has funded 144 Apprenticeships since 2014 – delivering £268,665 in social value, whilst supporting young people to learn a life-long trade.

The organisation has been helping to tackle the skills shortage in the construction industry, by funding a variety of apprenticeships in professions including joinery; bricklaying; plastering; painting and electrics. These initiatives provide young people with the chance to build a career by learning new skills and qualifications – which often lead to securing sustainable employment opportunities.

GeorgeEighteen-year old George Buckley from Halewood in Liverpool has excelled in a bricklaying apprenticeship, thanks to support and funding received from Fusion21. After nearly two years of hands-on work experience and studying at The City of Liverpool College, George is nearing the end of the scheme and is on track to receive a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 2. George’s apprenticeship has enabled him to mix the technical skills he has learnt in the classroom, with on-the-job experience gained from working for home builder and urban regeneration partner, Countryside.

George said: “I didn’t really enjoy school – I wanted to be out in the fresh air, earning money and learning skills I could turn into a career. That’s why an apprenticeship was the best option for me. My uncle has had a fantastic career as a bricklayer, and he inspired me to follow the same path.

 “I’ve worked really hard to develop my skills – and achieved third place in the SkillBuild Regional Heat Competition 2015, in the bricklaying category. SkillBuild is the largest multi-trade competition in the country, so it was a great indication of the progress I was making. This apprenticeship has been a fantastic stepping stone for me,” adds George – “each day is a fresh challenge – and I can confidently work on my own without supervision.”

Ian McDonough, Community Regeneration Manager at Fusion21, said: “George has really applied himself during his apprenticeship – and we’re really proud of what he has achieved.

“Apprenticeships can change lives – and it’s really important that these opportunities exist to develop new talent in the construction sector and other industries.”



National Apprenticeship Week 2016 runs from Monday 14th – Friday 18th March, and celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

To find out more about the National Apprenticeship Service visit

Have you applied for funding from grant-making trusts and foundations?

If you have applied for, or received funding from grant-making trusts and foundations, Foundational Thinking invite you to complete their short survey, based on emerging themes from a literature review of the practice of grant-making trusts and foundation.

Foundational Thinking is a Flip Finance project set up to explore the ways in which grant-making trusts and foundations can better serve the needs of the organisations they support and, ultimately, their mission. The organisation has embarked upon an independent, comprehensive and critical overview of the evidence of the practices of grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK, and is keen to support this with a snapshot of the perspective from organisations which receive funding from grant-makers.

It is therefore on the look-out for charities, community group, social enterprises and other organisations who have applied for, or received, funding from grant-making trusts and foundations to complete a short survey as part of its research. The questions are based on emerging themes from our review of the evidence.

Please click here to access the survey.

NatWest SE100

UK social businesses pump £1.3 billion profits back into society

New figures released this week by the NatWest SE100 index highlight impressive growth from the UK’s social enterprise sector this year, with an average growth in turnover of 80%.

Now in its sixth year, this unique index tracks the growth and performance of the UK’s social enterprises. In 2015, the Index collected data from 1, 244 social ventures, and discovered that they had collectively pumped £1.3 billion of profits back into society.

The latest data report shows that the social enterprise sector continues to grow at an impressive rate – last year, the average growth in turnover was 72%, and this year, the figure has risen to 80%. The Index’s top 100 fastest growers achieved a staggering 951% growth, bringing the average growth rate over the past three years to 824%. These figures far outstrip average sales growth posted by Britain’s top 100 private companies, who managed an average growth figure of 65% over the past three years.


Although there are some relative giants on the SE100 Index, posting turnovers in the tens of millions, the median turnover this year is £144,000, climbing from £134, 000 the previous year.

On the 10th anniversary of the Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs), the index also highlights the success of the CIC as a legal structure for social ventures, with 57% of enterprises on the index registered as CICs. CICs registered on the index are generally smaller and faster growing than other types of enterprise. Today, 92% of CICs on the Index have a turnover of £1million or less, but have achieved an average growth of 102%.

The report signifies that despite continuing austerity in the UK, 2015 was still an exciting year for the UK’s social enterprise movement.  The sector continues to be dynamic and has a big collective impact on both society and the UK economy.

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said: “Social enterprises are the lifeblood of communities up and down the country. They tackle social challenges while contributing to economic growth, making them hugely popular with both consumers and investors. The SE100 Index is a benchmark which encourages innovation in the sector so that their great work in building a compassionate society can continue long into the future.”

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest, said: “This report shows that social enterprises across the country are generating significant profits whilst having a powerful impact on their communities. The 80% average growth in turnover in the sector is hugely impressive, while the performance of the top 100 in the Index shows that there are some incredible high-growth social businesses out there – transforming economies and lives at the same time.  NatWest has been a proud supporter of the UK social enterprise sector over the past 20 years.  For some growing social enterprises, finance can still be a barrier to growth – but alternative financing options, such as our Social & Community Capital charity, can help them further their ambitions.”

The NatWest SE100 Index is open to any organisation delivering social, environmental or economic change. It is created by Matter&Co in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland and RBS Inspiring Enterprise, with the support of Buzzacott and the Social Value UK. For more information visit

To view the NatWest SE100 Annual Report 2015, please visit the SE100 website.

Social Enterprise Lecture Series Spring 2016

The Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London is holding a social enterprise lecture series, showcasing Social Entrepreneurship across sectors, and from around the world.

The series started on Tuesday 12th January, with a lecture from Dave Boyle, Director of The Community Shares Company, on ‘Community Shares, or, Social Investment by the rest of us‘. The series continues throughout January, February and March, with the last lecture on  Tuesday 15th March.

Speakers include former Director of Policy and Research at NCVO Margaret Bolton, and CEO of London Early Years Foundation June O’Sullivan MBE.

Please click here to download the full programme. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths website.