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The magazine of Social Enterprise East of England (SEEE)




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Banking without compromise Triodos is the UK’s leading bank for social enterprise - a specialist social banking partner that can meet your financial needs without compromising the principles your organisation is based on. With over 25 years experience working with many of Europe’s most progressive social enterprises, we’re uniquely positioned to provide: Lending – a wide range of lending facilities. Everyday banking – including current accounts and internet banking. Savings – deposit and reserve accounts offering healthy returns. Capital – equity investment and capital raising services, including share issues. Our extensive experience means that by asking the right questions, we can provide a forward-thinking, responsive service instead of a merely reactive one. If that sounds refreshing and different from your present bank, we’d like to hear from you.


Find out more about what banking ethically with Triodos can do for your organisation at e-mail or call free on 0500 008 720

Triodos Bank NV (incorporated under the laws of the Netherlands with limited liability, registered in England and Wales BR3012). Registered office: Triodos Bank, Brunel House, 11 The Promenade, Bristol BS8 3NN

index P5. The SEEE team talks to you P6 In the news P11.What is happening in the region? P13. Social enterprise mark P14.Enterprise Essentials P15.Cover Story Working with the Private sector P20. Business Link P21. Robert Ashton P22. Network news P23. RBS Data report and social firms piece P24. Accidental Entrepreneur P25.Staff away day. P27. Book review and useful resources page P28.Business card directory. P29.Why join SEEE? P30.Incidentally.

In the next edition – Conference and AGM special. Want to recommend the magazine to someone in the social enterprise – simply email their details to and we will add them to our distribution




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A flexible, ‘hands on’, six month open programme that combines monthly group workshop days with individual mentoring and support. Work on your organisation; your challenges and your future. Month 1 – Commerce without Compromise Month 2 – Planning to Succeed Month 3 – Customers and Clients Month 4 – Products and Services Month 5 – Publicity and Promotion Month 6 – Next Steps Group size: 4-6 Led by: Robert Ashton, best selling business author, social entrepreneur, innovator and campaigner.

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Issue 31 Autum 2010

, Ilse Leenders Operations Manager 01234 834711 Skype: ilse.leenders

Chris Lee Membership and Network Officer 01234 834710 Skype:chris.lee.seee

Laurie Nichol Communications Officer 01234 834549 Skype: nichol.laurie

Joanne Taylor Administration Officer 01234 834814 Skype: joanne.taylor2009 Cilie Lennartz – Nuttall Information Officer 01234 834819 cilie.lennartz-nuttall@ Skype: cilie.nuttall Linda Payne Finance Officer 01234 834814 Skype: linda.payne.seee

Big Society Producing a quarterly magazine can be an interesting study in how fast time flies. Sometimes it seems like nothing in particular has happened since the last edition, and our forward thinking of which topics to include scarcely needs a tweak. At other times, well, now, the whole world seems to have changed. The last copy of In Touch went to print at a time when we didn’t know what flavour of government we would have next – but we knew that all main parties had included mention of social enterprise in their manifestos. Now we have our Coalition Government – and nothing seems to be the way it was before. Is this good for the social enterprise sector here in the East of England? I could hesitate to answer that question, as we all know how fast decisions have been made, by the time we go to press things will be different again, but I am not hedging my bets by answering Yes… and No. Yes, because this current government champions social enterprise – as citizens take control of their local issues, and find the right structures to provide their own answers, they are encouraged to explore social enterprise as a model for doing just that. So the time is right for the numbers of social enterprises to grow and for existing social enterprises to embed themselves more thoroughly in the economy of their local area. No, because it is not clear (yet) how all of this will be supported and encouraged. Strategic support for social enterprises has always been extremely light touch: other than the specialist national bodies, we have one national body for overall strategic and political support, and nine more intermediate bodies which have so far coincided with regional infrastructure. But as the regional architecture (EEDA for example) is being replaced with local structures, we have to ensure that the newly forming Local Enterprise Partnerships include the sector at a strategic and practical level. This quarter I have not been to visit as many social enterprises as usual, prioritising meetings with those involved in the new LEPs, and with MPs to make sure that the social enterprise support baby doesn’t get thrown out with the regional bathwater. Strategic support for social enterprise support has never mirrored the very local nature of say, the voluntary sector, (with whom we are frequently confused), so the sector is already quite efficient at ensuring that it has support at the right level and at minimal cost to the public purse. There won’t be a “regional” social enterprise body in the future, that is clear, but we do need something that is similar in function, shared among a number of LEPs. Here at SEEE, we have been really heartened by the vocal encouragement of so many social enterprises who want to ensure that our support and strategic input continues! Going back to Yes: this is a really exciting stage for social enterprises of all sizes and stages of development. Politically you are really hot property, and if there was ever a rallying cry for your answer, it is right here and now. You have the answers the current climate wants, and everyone now recognises it. Be confident about your business, be realistic about what you can deliver, stick true to your principles, and above all, be proud that all your hard work in carving out this sector has been acknowledged. Social enterprise is the way forward.


Co-operatives Fortnight

Tens of thousands across the UK celebrated a successful first Co-operatives fortnight. Co-ordinated by Co-operatives UK - the trade association for co-operative enterprises. Co-operatives Fortnight united the whole co-operative sector to demonstrate that there is an alternative way of doing business where profits and ownership are shared. Over the course of the fortnight, an incredible range of activities took place including:

• Over 150 events in every region in the UK • Over 3000 stores promoting the Fortnight nation-wide • Over 4000 people watching the Co-operatives Fortnight film • Thousands getting involved through online social networks • 13 Co-operative schools being established • Two parliamentary motions being passed Co-operatives UK works to promote, develop and unite co-operative enterprises. They have also recently announced that the UK Co-operative economy has grown to £33.5 billion.

Do you know someone who is blind or visually impaired? Why not help them to download free software onto their computer so it will talk to them? Thunder is an award-winning free screenreader talking software for people with little or no sight. It works well with Windows 7, Vista or XP and is brought to you by SEEE members CIC. Jane aged 84 says “The talking computer is my friend, my radio, my library and my post-box. With Thunder, I can listen to everything I need to know about.” They are looking for free software Champions - individuals who can help to deliver high quality talking or magnifying software to visually impaired people everywhere. CIC is a not for profit company. They vigorously campaign against the digital divide anywhere in the world. Royal Patron: HRH The Duke of York. Rt Hon David Blunkett MP is their Champion. With Thunder, everyone’s a winner: Citizens with little or no sight and organisations wanting to include them. To find out more contact 01733 234 441 or log on to:

FREE Briefing papers recently posted The AWICS website contains a number of briefing papers on topical aspects of public administration, finance, housing and other matters that can be freely downloaded. Recently posted briefing papers include: • The Budget 2010 – July 2010 • Council Housing: A Real Future – AWICS Response – July 2010 • Government announces £6.25billion spending cuts – June 2010 • The Queen’s Speech 2010 – June 2010 • Social Housing Regulation and Inspection – May 2010 • Northwest Annual Housing Conference 2010 – April 2010 • Council Housing: A Real Future – April 2010 These briefing papers and many more can be found at:

BIG DEBATE TIMEwhat do you think? Cost, price and value You’re probably paying too much for products and services you buy, and not charging enough for those you sell. That’s never good for business, but especially bad in the current economic climate…. Why do social enterprises seem to have such a problem with costing and estimating their worth? Is value and cost more about perception? Join the debate on debate on the 16th September and tell us what you think!

Social Firms helps people with disabilities find work

Finding a job at the moment is hard enough and if you’re disabled or have a mental health problem it’s even more difficult. Making the leap from relying on benefits to getting a full time job is often unrealistic. But part-time work can help to build up skills, confidence and a work record to show to future employers. It also raises the self esteem that comes with earning a wage. However many disabled people who want work are trapped in an incredibly complex web of benefit rules. That’s why Social Firms UK has produced a free, interactive tool to guide people on disability-related benefits through the maze. It’s easy to use - just answer yes or no to a series of questions and it helps to work out how much someone can earn before their benefits are affected. Jobcentre Plus calls this ‘Permitted Work’.

The Scouts and Social Enterprise

The Scouts have just announced a new entrepreneur badge - which shows a rising bar chart suggesting increasing sales or profits. While this seems like a natural progression from Bob-a-Job Week (which was dropped 11 years ago) some traditionalists have complained that commerce conflicts with the values of the Scout movement. So this seems like an ideal opportunity to introduce them to social enterprise - sharing values, rather than valuing shares. Why not contact your local Scout Association through and let us know how you get on?

Brightspace introduce cheaper rates Brightspace has recently restructured its office rental prices for social enterprises following a report that this business sector is likely to need much more support in the coming years. The Growing the Big Society report recently published by the nationally renowned Institute for Public Policy Research North says plans to involve more social enterprises in the delivery of public services are likely to be hampered by the March 2011 “funding cliff-edge” and the move towards larger public sector contracts. This puts the contracts beyond the reach of many of these small enterprises. As a result, they need support to form consortiums, to find bespoke business support and affordable and flexible accommodation. If you want further information about the new favourable rates, which in some cases can offer up to 50% savings, and advantages of being located at the enterprise centre, you can contact the team on 0845 2500 508 or via

SEEE members merging. SEEE members OWL, which has 12 staff, runs user-led community projects in Sawston, Cambridgeshire, providing work, education and activities for people with disabilities, will become part of the Papworth Trust, which operates in eastern England and employs about 300 people. OWL will retain its name and branding and continue to run services at its existing premises. A spokesman for the Papworth Trust said: “OWL has a great deal of expertise in social enterprises for disabled people and we can learn a lot from that. It has some really good projects that we want to use and develop so we can achieve our aim of helping more people.” In a statement, Kevin McMullen, chairman of OWL, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for two of Cambridgeshire’s best-known charities to come together and offer even more choice to disabled people.”

Funding Central Free smart website for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. The site provides access to thousands of funding and finance opportunities, plus a wealth of tools and resources supporting organisations to develop sustainable income strategies appropriate to their needs. We think it looks great!

Social Firms village Hot on the heals of the Just Buy launch, by Social Firms UK, encouraging spend to remain within the sector, the Social Firms Village stormed The Guardian’s Public Procurement Show at London’s ExCel in the middle of June. Ten exhibitors under the Village banner reflected the diversity of products and services of Social Firms and the recycling sector, and proved to be a welcome respite from the corporate exhibitors. Three of SEEE’s members were exhibiting at the event. Ipswich based Whitehouse Enterprises showcased a 6 metre playground longboat manufactured from recycled plastic materials, Lowestoft’s Mow and Grow Organisation provided a much-needed green oasis and Holt-based Graphic Design & Print launched their new online quote-generation system. It was the first year that companies outside of the Buying Solutions preferred supplier network have been allowed to exhibit, and all involved are hoping to build on the awareness and interest raised and run it again in 2011 - surely Cameron’s Big Society will make it even more pertinent to have a Social Firms Village at a public sector procurement event.

Local businesses handed a university challenge Local businesses with innovative ideas can access highly sought after university expertise this summer with a new East of England Development Agency (EEDA) ‘Innovation Voucher’. EEDA has set aside a fund of £250,000 for small to mediumsized enterprises based in the East of England to access up to £3,000 worth of one-to-one collaboration with the region’s top universities and research institutes – to help develop, challenge and improve projects in the pipeline. The vouchers are available free of charge, on a first come first served basis. Businesses have until Tuesday 30 November to apply for a voucher at

Which legal structure is right for you? If you are starting up a Social Enterprise deciding on your legal structure is often on of the hardest jobs helps people decide what legal structure is right for them. Includes a ‘decision tool’ - questions to ask, and reference to relevant legal documents, including information on setting up a charity trading arm, case studies and other resources.

Community shops receive £1 million Co-operative & Community Finance has now loaned over £1 million to support over 60 community-owned shops throughout the UK in the past two years. Co-operative & Community Finance works exclusively with social enterprises and co-operatives. One of the projects it is involved in is the Village CORE Programme, which supports communityowned shops in rural areas. Ian Rothwell, from Co-operative & Community Finance, says “The Village CORE programme has proved to be tremendously successful. It has been great working with village communities and seeing the energy and enthusiasm they have generated to create a successful enterprise.”

More funding for Graduate Internship placements The University of Bedfordshire has secured funding for an extra 75 graduate internship placements. These extra places mean even more companies can benefit from the skills and talents of a recent graduate at a low cost and with low risk. The internship project, which is part of a national initiative, Backing Young Britain, aims to help both local companies and graduates looking to gain valuable work experience. Eamonn Keenan, Associate Director at the University’s Knowledge Hub, said: “The internships are already proving to be very successful for both business and graduates. “This has been an excellent way for businesses to gain extra resource at a low cost, as well as giving graduates invaluable work experience. Companies are finding it a great way to see how a graduate fits into their organisation.�

Philip Stone It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Philip Stone. Philip was a trainer and consultant who lived in Kings Lynn and worked with SEEE as a Micro Coach, and led sessions in our ‘Business skills for difficult times’ training programme.

The internships last between eight and twelve weeks and graduates can come from any UK university. The graduates are paid the national minimum wage and the employer is subsidised by the University to reduce this cost significantly. Funding is provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). For more information about the internship project or to secure a graduate for your company visit

He was always generous with his time and knowledge – actively encouraging learners to share his materials freely. He believed in facilitating learning, rather than teaching, but his relaxed approach in the classroom was combined with a clear focus on learning objectives and the cost-effective use of people’s time.



Philip’s thoughtful contribution to learning and development in the third sector will be greatly missed.

Charity Bank helps you. Charity Bank is now offering a discount on their standard interest rate. The preferential rate being offered is a reduction of 0.5% p.a. The key features, terms and conditions of this promotion are listed on the Charity Bank website

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Political changes: How have they affected the region? As part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to decentralisation and localism, there will be some significant changes to how economic development is to be tackled in the future. The Budget confirmed that Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), which includes the East of England Regional Development Agency (EEDA), are to be abolished and will be replaced with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). On 29 June, the Government wrote to local authorities and businesses inviting them to work together to develop their proposals for Local Enterprise Partnerships by 6 September1.

What are LEPs? LEPs will be a partnership of councils and businesses that will promote local economic development. It’s not expected that these partnerships will inherit all former functions of RDAs, as some functions have already been stopped - such as Regional Strategies - and other functions will be delivered nationally. In its letter to councils and businesses, the Government set out some parameters to help partners to develop a wide range of ideas, including: • It is anticipated that LEPs will wish to provide the strategic leadership in their areas and set out local economic priorities. • Partnerships will wish to create the right environment for business and growth, by tackling issues such as planning and housing, local transport and infrastructure priorities, employment and enterprise and the transition to the low carbon economy.

LEPs will be eligible to bid for funding via the new Regional Growth Fund, which will provide support for projects that offer significant potential for sustainable economic growth and can create new private sector employment. The £1 billion fund will particularly help areas and communities currently dependent on the public sector make the transition to private sector led growth and prosperity. An informal consultation paper is currently seeking views on the design of the Regional Growth Fund, also by 6 September. This consultation states:

“We expect local enterprise partnerships will play an important role in bringing together bids for the areas that they cover, working with key partners in their area, such as universities and social enterprises.”2

What happens next? Further details on both the LEPs and Regional Growth Fund will be in the White Paper expected later this year. Meanwhile, the Government has invited local authorities and the business community to send them their views on what partnerships should do, and how they should do it, and are encouraging local businesses and councils to work together to develop Partnership proposals to put forward as soon as possible. Staff at SEEE have been working to ensure that local authorities are aware of the contribution that social enterprises can make, and have offered to work with them in a co-ordinating role. The number, size and shape of potential LEPs are not finalised at the time of writing, but further updates will be posted on as and when they are available.

• They will want to work closely with universities and further education colleges along with other relevant stakeholders in the area. • Businesses and civic leaders will need to work together to create effective partnerships and there will need to be robust and clear accountability. • It is expected that partnerships will cover a natural economic geography or travel to work area and, to be sufficiently strategic, will include groups of upper tier authorities.

1 Joint letter on LEPs 2 Regional Growth Fund Consultation


Exclusive offer for SEEE members.

Social Enterprise Mark follow up In the last edition of In Touch we discussed the new Social Enterprise Mark and how it could help your social enterprise stand out from the crowd….

These are the latest Social Enterprise Mark holders in the region…. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Thurrock Local Enterprise Agency Workwise Stevenage Leisure Limited 1st Question East Co-operative Abbeycroft Leisure Empowering Communities Thurrock Re-use Project Lighthouse Furniture Project Graphic Design and Print Preen CIC Citylife

So why join SEEE? “Not to be left out!” was one response to a recent online survey that asked members why they joined Social Enterprise East of England (and explains why 85% members renew). Asked to choose from a range of benefits, getting connected with others involved in social enterprise - across county boundaries and sectors, was top of the list. Free/ discounted events – training courses, conferences and network meetings (tailored to the particular needs of busy people) came a close second. Third was SEEE’s wider role – creating a louder voice with policy-makers and decision-takers across the East of England – closely followed by access to support and advice. The final word goes to one respondent who values an even broader role; “SEEE shows us another way to organise business.”


SEEE have spoken to the Social Enterprise Mark Company on your behalf and have organised a special week where you can ring your own personalised adviser who will be able to: 1.Fill out the form for you on the phone, free of charge, saving you precious time! 2.Answer any questions that you may have So take advantage of this unique opportunity. Ring 07790908829 and speak to Delphine from the Social Enterprise Mark Company, any time during work hours, during the week commencing 27th September. Please have in front of you, your Memorandum and Articles of Association. Also, it would be useful if you could provide the following information: 1)The date when you started trading 2)The date of when your latest accounts were filled at Companies House, FSA or Charity Commission 3)Details of the total income and total income generated from trading taken from you most recent filled accounts.

What is the East of England like for Social Enterprise? The RBS SE100 Data Report, launched June 2010, revealed the first year of results from the first ever index tracking the growth of social businesses in the UK. The report showed that social enterprises in the East of England recorded the third highest average growth out of all the regions in the UK (38.03%). However the region had one of the lower average turnovers at £812,777 (the region with the highest turnover is the South West with £9,400,630). 350 social businesses across the UK, representing a total annual turnover of £812 million, voluntarily submitted company information for the RBS SE100 index. Of those, 36 organisations were from the East of England, with a combined turnover of £27,668,571. The social enterprise in the East of England with the highest average growth is Mow & Grow at 710.73%. Mow & Grow was also the overall national Growth Champion for the RBS SE100 Index.

Top 5 growers in the East of England

Graphic Design & Print CIC

Big Barn CIC

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:

So what does the Social Firm sector currently look like?

“The Government has a powerful vision for a ‘Big Society’ in which we all must contribute to the common good. Social enterprises will have a greater role to play in the future and we are committed to supporting them through initiatives like the Big Society Bank which will further improve finance options.”

• It has grown by 32% since 2006

What is the East of England like for Social Firms? Social Firms UK 32% growth in the

• 58% of the Social Firm workforce are severely disadvantaged • 74% of Social Firms earn 75% from trade rather than subsidies or grants • People with mental health needs is the largest target employee group • Catering, Recycling & Horticulture are the top three trading sectors

reports sector

The Queen highlighted the importance of social enterprise in her speech to Parliament and David Cameron’s vision of Big Society relies on the sector to deliver services with a social and environmental impact. Social Firms, being one type of social enterprise, provide employment for those furthest away from the labour market so should be at the very heart of these new initiatives.

Social Firms UK’s Mapping Report is the first detailed report on the Social Firm sector since 2006. It details the size, growth, expansion issues, legal structures, geographical spread, industry sectors, employee numbers, successes and challenges. This report is available to download for free on: You may also like to look at the currant Social Enterprise Strategy: Available to download

Mow & Grow

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Enterprise Essentials: Cultivating Better Business Ideas FOURTH IN A SERIES OF GUIDES FOR CULTIVATING BETTER BUSINESS 1. Don’t try too hard Great ideas often come to people when they’re relaxing - in the bar, in the bath, and in bed. Few people have their best ideas at their desks, so keep a pad and pen to hand to capture them. 2. Exercise your body and your brain Physical exercise can also stimulate creativity. Mozart liked to play billiards and Beethoven enjoyed long walks. 3. Trust your intuition If an idea comes out of your years of experience in a particular field, it is likely to be worth pursuing. Work at it until it takes off, or proves to be a dead duck, but know when to quit. 4. Rank your ideas and work down from the top Judge each idea objectively by the same set of criteria – a list of ‘essentials’ (eg will increase sales income) and ‘desirables’ (eg will attract new customers). ‘Essentials’ score double. 5. Embrace risk and failure The best entrepreneurs manage risk rather than letting it stifle progress. Be bold - take measured risks. Failing is a natural consequence of trying to do things differently. 6. Share your ideas Consult those you respect for their objectivity, and listen carefully to their opinions. The right development team can make or break an initiative but you don’t want all ‘yes-men’. 7. Be entrepreneurially alert Be open to new ideas and opportunities all the time. See what others are doing well and think how you could do it better. If you can’t compete, get out. 8. Turn your ideas into action Entrepreneurs not only have the ideas and the vision, but take the next steps to make them reality with tasks, time frames and team responsibilities. 9. Does it fit? Assess your ideas against organisational values and mission. Is there enthusiasm and relevant expertise in your staff team? Are potential supporters and customers also excited? 10. Good ideas often come from adversity Following the closure of a library in Bournemouth, books were re-housed in the nearby pub. This brought new people into contact with books in a relaxed setting seven days and nights a week.

For a full version of this edition of ‘Enterprise Essentials’ and others in the series, go to:

Columnists Sally Kelly & Nicky Stevenson of R.C. Women Ltd talk about the election.

For the first few weeks as the Coalition sorted itself out, we adopted a mantra to be used in all discussions: “nobody knows anything”. Because nobody did, including ministers and all the assembled policy wonks. Well we can report back that the Coalition’s Programme for Government is now out of date. The statement in the Big Society launch about co-operatives and mutuals being set up by public sector workers to deliver public services just doesn’t stand up. As we are old co-operators ourselves, we are very keen that the benefits of co-ops and mutuals are recognised by Government but we have to admit that our recent research into this topic demonstrates that this is such a narrow approach that with one or two splendid exceptions, hardly anyone across the globe has done it. However, if public services are going to be externalised, then we are very keen that there should be some form of democratic


It seems a really long time since February when we wrote about our excitement that cooperatives were being talked about in the run up to the election. Well, be careful what you wish for. Here we are, three months after the election and the whole landscape has changed. accountability and the co-operative/ mutual model is the best way of achieving it.

So we don’t know anything about whether business support will be funded at all, we don’t know how communities and people in the private sector are supposed to find out how to do any of this. And then we read that Francis Maude has commissioned some pilot projects in the public sector and that they all have mentors helping them. We’re delighted that other old co-operators, Sunderland Home Care and Greenwich Leisure are sharing their considerable knowledge – but as for some of the others…..

Naturally the usual suspects, the big accountancy based consultancies, are somehow at the table. As we read on a blog this week, it’s like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. So we have a message for Francis Maude and anyone else in government. JUST BECAUSE THINGS WERE DEVELOPED UNDER A LABOUR GOVERNMENT IT DOESN’T MAKE THEM BAD.

So do we know anything? A few people know a little bit – but it could all change again. Do we know what we think yet? We don’t think so but we do know we’ve got to think completely differently. Is anyone in government thinking about what all this really means? Watch this space.

Special feature: Working with the Private Sector. “For some, they (businesses) are the ideological enemy, capitalists driven by the blind pursuit of profit with no regard for people or the environment. For others, the private sector is a foreign country rarely visited or thought about. And for the small pragmatic and opportunistic minority of social enterprises, private companies are potential and actual business partners. From the other side of the border, private sector businesses reactions to the citizens of “not for profit” land include disinterest, misunderstanding and condescension. There are few which identify a business opportunity and become quite passionate about social enterprise, enabling them to do good and do well” From “There’s No Business Like Social Business” co-written by Liam Black


The Report

In his speech at the launch of the Big Society David Cameron addressed public service reform stating: “We’ve got to get rid of the centralised bureaucracy that wastes money and undermines morale. And in its place we’ve got to give professionals much more freedom, and open up public services to new providers like charities, social enterprises and private companies so we get more innovation, diversity and responsiveness to public need.”

“Match Winners”, is a DTI sponsored guide on working collaborations between social enterprise and private sector business. The case studies in the guide highlight the benefits gained by both sides through a range of business collaborations and also the challenges they faced in forming these partnerships.

But some commentators fear that this whole agenda may be converted in to an opportunity for the big private sector companies to hijack the most financially alluring public services leaving social enterprises and others to take on the less attractive and lower value opportunities. This assumes that social enterprises will be competing for those public sector contracts with their private sector counterparts. But is there a time and space for social enterprises and the private sector to work collaboratively to deliver local services on behalf of their communities? Some are of the opinion that the social enterprise sector and the private sector make for uncomfortable bed partners – with the social enterprise invariably getting the lumpy side while the private sector get the feathered nest. But a DTI report found that when the right partners match-up, with a good idea and a well-managed strategy for delivery it’s a story of success, where the businesses involved have seized the opportunity to achieve something special.

The key benefits cited by social enterprises entering in to such partnerships are that they can: Generate new, sustainable income streams • Reduce grant dependency • Offer access to finance and capital for specific projects / developments • Provide access to management expertise from the private sector • Sharpen up their business and commercial skills • Bring business involvement and finance in to the community The private sector firms in the case studies enter in to partnership because they: • • • • • • • •

This article provides a summary of the findings from that report. Also included is three case studies that provide a further insight in to why there is joint value in working with the private sector.

Present new business opportunities they could not realise without the social enterprise partner Provide access to new markets, and supply lines, expertise or services they cannot find elsewhere Allow the business to pursue both contracts and major funding that would not otherwise be available to them Offer access to and knowledge of a particular community Have a unique skill or expertise in specialist areas Provide solutions to specific business problems Help to enhance staff morale through involvement in the partnership Enable them to form a strategic alliance who can “speak the language” of the market or communities they are trying to reach Offer potential commercial social responsibility (CSR) spin offs

Social enterprise Charity

The following table, produced by FreshTies, provides a simple but useful overview of the differences between social enterprises, charities and the private sector.

To profit or not to profit The term “not for profit organisation” may also add to this level of confusion for the private sector who, for the most part, are there to maximise profits for themselves and / or their shareholders, so may seem extremely alien to the business sector. An interesting viewpoint is provided by world famous social entrepreneur, Mohammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, who introduces a new term, that of social business. For him, a social business is, “A company that is cause driven rather than profit driven with the potential to act as a change agent for the world”. For Yunis, profit itself is not incompatible, indeed is necessary for a social business to pursue its social or environmental goals. The profit remains within (in other words is re-invested in) the business itself. In this sense, the definition is consistent with that of social enterprise. However, the critical difference is in the relationship with long term investors who will not expect to see any return on their investment since they share the mission of the social business itself. Yet, as one social investor commented, “If the sector is to grow, it needs money. There is no earthly reason why an entity motivated by social goals cannot make a profit that is used for social purposes.” Another argued, “The key challenge for social enterprises in the UK is access to finance. All too many are willing to receive philanthropic or public sector donations and this makes them weak and ultimately unsustainable as viable business entities that are of interest to the commercial investment sector”.

Have running expenses, for example,staff, office Use all profits for causes and/ or the community Official body to regulate and ensure use of profits for community? Creates own services (not reliant on donations) to make profits for the community

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 It happens !

Are Social Enterprises charities or bona fide businesses? There seems to be some misunderstanding about what we mean by social enterprise and misconceptions of social enterprises within the private sector. And if you need a “gauge” consider the view of one of the highly financially motivated Dragon’s Den entrepreneurs when Cardiff based social enterprise FreshTies pitched to the dragons. The social enterprise appeared to have a viable business. In fact, one dragon said she might have invested had the company not been ‘about charity’. And that’s where the problem started. The terms charity and social enterprise where construed as the same thing. Other dragons pitched in with words of wisdom such as ‘you cannot mix business with charity’. From then on, it seemed that the Dragons were closed off to learning what social enterprise entailed. Responding to the comments made by the Dragons, Ashish Poddar, founder of FreshTies said “Our remit is using technology to help build community. Our profits are to build local enterprises in the heart of communities across the UK, so communities support themselves, and they, not bureaucrats, decide how best money is used for their needs. FreshTies has faced barriers from lenders (familiar to other social enterprises), and that’s why the comments on Dragons Den are so unhelpful. More needs to be done to inform people about what social enterprise is all about, and the exciting innovations that social enterprise creates.”

Working with the Private Sector.

“We were simply able to present a commercially viable proposition, providing the quality of service they were looking for” Whitehall and Social Enterprise

Case Study 1 - Catering2Order

Another viewpoint is the “location” for the social enterprise sector within the Whitehall village.

Catering2order is one of London’s leading contract caterers that has recently been awarded a major contract to meet the catering needs of four major contractors based on the London Olympic site. The companies are Skanska, the Olympic Delivery Authority, CSS Training and Equipment and McNicholas Construction. Caterin2Order is a Bermondsey based Social Firm who offer training and work opportunities for people with disabilities or from socially or economically deprived backgrounds. 90% of it’s employees meet either one or more of the categories and it’s training scheme has an 85% success of graduates going on to gain meaningful employment.

In 2002, the Government published a unified Social Enterprise Strategy, and established a Social Enterprise Unit (SEnU) located in the Department of Trade and Industry to co-ordinate its implementation in England and Wales. After a consultation on a new type of company (Community Interest Company– CIC), policy development was increasingly influenced by organisations in the voluntary and community sector rather than those with their origins in employeeownership and co-operative sectors. The 2003 DTI report on the consultation shows the disproportionate influence of charitable trusts and umbrella organisations in the voluntary sector, and evidence now exists that the voice of progressive employee-owned organisations were marginalised in the course of producing the report. In 2006 the SenU became part of a newly-created Office of the Third Sector, under the wing of the Cabinet Office. The SenU now resides within the Office for Civil Society (OCS) with Cabinet Office ministerial responsibility. As such, some social entrepreneurs may feel that their “business status” and compatibility with the private sector remains blurred as they become further entrenched in policy delivery around the voluntary and community sector. Some may argue for a further relocation to the recently formed UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills whose aim should fit neatly with those of many social enterprises – to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: “creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed.” Does that not fit better than the Cabinet Office’s mission for social enterprises? – “to lead work across Government to support voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, cooperatives and mutuals.” Would a seat at the BIS table have a more beneficial outcome in terms of raising the business profile of the social enterprise sector than a seat at the OCS table? And to end - a further comment from Liam Black… ”We’re all about bringing two different worlds together. When they collide, you do make waves!”

John Charles, manager of Catering2Order disclosed what was behind this successful collaboration - Catering2Order did not “ram it down their throats” that they were a social enterprise or that they were a not for profit organisation. “This just did not come into it” he added. “We were simply able to present a commercially viable proposition, providing the quality of service they were looking for.” In his dealings with private sector businesses very few will make a decision based on the fact that you are a social enterprise. Their decision will be based on best service / best product principles and will ultimately be a commercial decision. Corporate Social Responsibility does not override their commercial decision but it is possible that they make use of the social impact of their decision to contract with a social firm has as an aside.

“Why is it that most people can earn a living being average but artists need to be brilliant before they can start to get above subsistence?” Case Study 2 - “Why is it” asks Parag Shah, the founder of, “that most people can earn a living being average but artists need to be brilliant before they can start to get above subsistence?” Art-Switch is a fine art library-cummarketplace concept. Clients pay £1 per day for being a member of the library and “borrow” artwork profiled on the website for an agreed time and then switch for free or buy. Clients thus experience many artworks at their premises by borrowing without purchasing. The whole £1 that the consumer pays is returned to the artist. In addition, ArtSwitch gives artists 75% of sales and is pioneering royalties on re-sales. How can this concept would be “sold” to private sector businesses ? “The What’s In it For Me” syndrome. Parag explained the importance of reaching the “enlightened” person (the 5%) within a company that can realise the social values and is influential enough to convince the (95%) who will want to try to measure social impact in monetary terms. He pointed out that the 95% have their left hand side of the brain overburdened with too much data, to the extent that the right hand “creative” side of the brain is “switched off” and is unable to function to its full potential. In order for the brain to work to its full potential it is desirable to strike the right balance between the right and left hemispheres. A further point is the motivational aspect of the process of choosing the artwork. Many companies will select artwork that represents their “brand”, or is based on the deliberations of an art consultant and ignores the wishes of their employees. Others will bow to the desires of the MD or CEO in the selection of the office art work. Art-Switch. com provides an on-line library from which staff can select their own artwork. This lifts the mood of staff which reduces staff absence through sickness, they feel empowered, motivated and uplifted, encourages discussion and debate, collective decision making and bonding. For further information contact:

Case Study 3 – Preen Furniture Bank Preen Furniture Bank in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire is an award winning social enterprise providing furniture, electrical goods and any reusable practical items to the general public and people in need. Through their membership of the Furniture Re-Use Network (FRN) they work with national private sector businesses such as John Lewis Partnership (JLP) who alert the network when they re-furbish many of their high street stores. Preen are able to use this contact to their best advantage by arranging collection of unwanted stock from their stores which can then be sold as new to their customers. Was a large commercial business like JLP aware that they were working in partnership with a social enterprise network or whether they thought they were making a contribution to a charity? Preen’s Managing Director, Kathy Lewis said “Yes, some of the private businesses we work with do consider us a charity but I am not at all hung up on this”. “Most are happy with what we are doing, who we are and who we are trying to help” Links with local private businesses has enabled us to make considerable savings which we have been able to pass on to our customers– they are not concerned with whether we are a social enterprise or charity – they just like what we do – including our private landlord”. “We also enjoy working with JLP” Kathy explained. “It is their staff that drive through initiatives such as this arrangement with FRN which is so very different from many recognised High Street names. It’s these principles that set them apart.”

Social Customers enterprise interacting Case study with the private sector: practical Why? suggestions

All enterprises have to find customers. Most social enterprises are small and mass marketing is not viable. One way or another social enterprises tend to find their customers through others acting as referral routes At Foundation East the customers they were looking for were those who were financially excluded, in particular businesses (and social enterprises) that were unable to raise loans from a bank. Initially their funders wanted to identify customers through linking with other nonprofit organisations such as enterprise agencies, business links, social enterprise and voluntary sector networks. The funders were not familiar with the nature of their business and presumed cross-sector partnerships didn’t figure in this equation. In reality the core source of customer referrals for their business was always going to be high street banks – the private sector. Most businesses that need a loan will go to a bank. So to drive demand they had to develop partnerships. But thanks to their targeted pitch the banks didn’t so much view themselves as partners in a two-way relationship - rather they focussed on Foundation East providing a valuable service for them.

The private sector holds a range of resources that are potentially valuable for social enterprises. Firstly, it’s not just about money – it can be about skills, premises, contacts and credibility as well as capital. Secondly, what’s in it for them? What opportunities are the private sector missing out on? Lots! Social enterprises have plenty to offer in return. And it’s important to adopt this mind-set from the beginning, approaching negotiations knowing that you have something of value to sell, that the power and control lie in your hands.

When banks turn down businesses who apply for loans they do not refer them onto another bank. So when they don’t lend the bank misses out on the opportunity to sell the business add-on products, for instance a business bank account, insurance products or loan finance, further down the road once the business is established. By referring a client for a Foundation East loan the bank is able to retain a relationship with the client and also to get the sales outlined above. Sometimes a bank will co-lend with Foundation East as engaging has lowered the risk sufficiently for the bank to invest.

What's in it you? A route to market for your

business, tapping into existing mechanisms for accessing customers or suppliers, for instance. In Foundation East’s case customers had been segmented by the bank into those who specifically required their products.

What's in it for them?

An opportunity to sell products, plus the warm glow and positive ongoing relationship from providing helpful referrals - and all for free! In Foundation East’s case the bank was specifically able to share the risk of lending. Within high street banks there is no culture of referral at all. So it took some time to reach the breakthrough moment, for banks to be convinced of the value of Foundation East’s offer. Once the message was understood the referrals started and continue to flow. Sharing clients with a private sector organisation might prove challenging for some social enterprises and clarity on mission is important. Foundation East’s mission is to increase financial inclusion – if this is done through Foundation East itself or through action that leads to changed practice in banks, its does not alter the success of the impact.



Individuals within the private sector have a huge range of skills that can be hard to find in social enterprises. Bringing people into the “big tent” as Directors is one way of tapping into these skills. The key is to identify individuals who would be an asset to the board and target them. This doesn’t mean you can ring up the Managing Director of a FTSE 100 company, who you happen to know lives nearby. You’re unlikely to have the credibility to make it past their PA even if your organisation does work in a field they are sympathetic to. Also consider if you are after someone with skills and time to commit, or the kudos of having a well known business person on Board. Both these routes have value, but you should be clear about which one you are following.

Social enterprises might be able to utilise private sector resources that are underused and where there is little or no cost to the business. A good example of this is conference rooms. Most large businesses have Board rooms and meeting rooms that spend at least some of the day unused. A business can lend that space to you simply enough – quite often they’ll even lay on the tea and biscuits.

People with skills are easier to get than those with profile. For these non-celebrity potential Directors, a successful method of engaging them is simply to go and ask. Most people are not asked to become a Director - they will be flattered. You will be offering a solution to that niggling feeling they are not contributing enough to society.

What's in it for you?

Broadening the range of skills, experience and contacts at a governance level can only be a good thing.

What's in it for them?

An opportunity to use their skills in a new and challenging environment. And the chance to do something that meets their social conscience. By recruiting Directors with skills rather than celebrity you will be able to strengthen your organisation. Stumbling blocks: Getting the initial commitment. Getting a Director who is sent to ‘represent’ a business rather than has chosen to join.

What about unused buildings? There are plenty of these around that can be let, perhaps for storage, on a peppercorn for a short term lease – although you should ensure that the benefits of any such deal justify the hassle.

What's in it for you?

Free premises – rooms or buildings.

What’s in it for them? The PR and relationship building benefits without any outlay. A tame tenant overseeing an empty property. Another opportunity is tapping into something a business prides itself on, particularly where your requirements are relatively small. For instance a business with a good marketing department can draw up a professional flyer for you in no time.

What's in it for you?

Things you would otherwise have to pay for.

What's in it for them?

Pro bono support like this may lead to paid work in the longer term. There’s money too, although private businesses are looking at the bottom line and cash donations are the hardest thing to secure because it is so one-sided. Even when the senior managers are behind you the finance director won’t be. Unless you become a long term beneficiary through a CSR programme you’re unlikely to get much money. What’s in it for you? Cash – and a potential lever for similar support elsewhere. What’s in it for them? Small donations tick the CSR box.

So where now? The barrier to successful cross-sector relationships is cultural, with a perceived gulf in terms of language and practice. This is where social enterprises can shine when mainstream charities won’t. As businesses we talk a similar language, if not quite the same dialect. Some social enterprises will question the private sector’s motivation to engage. Hopefully this piece has illustrated that there can be win-win arrangements.

Social Enterprises can learn a lot from the private sector, especially when it comes to gaining a competitive edge and standing out from the crowd. Know Your Market

What can social enterprise learn from the private sector? Social Enterprises operate in changing markets – just like any other business. Although their primary purpose is social rather than financial, they still have to respond to market conditions, remain competitive and retain existing customers or win new ones to stay in business.

Private sector businesses are always looking at expanding into new markets or winning more market share, so take a leaf out of their book and consider how you can keep developing your enterprise rather than standing still. Look at what is happening in your sector. It pays to keep a close watch on what your customers are looking for and what your competitors are doing so you can adapt your enterprise if market conditions change. Market research doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You probably know a lot about your market and competitors already and a few phone calls or time spent researching on the web can tell you a lot about what is going on in your area. You may also get new ideas for developing your enterprise.

Efficiency All businesses, whatever their size, have to keep a close eye on expenditure and it is surprising how much can be saved by making small changes. For example: • Ask for extended credit terms with suppliers

• Change your bank account to one with lower charges • Look at leasing arrangements, rather than buying any equipment • Look at staffing arrangements and operating hours to make sure you are paying staff for the times that they are needed most And finally, ask your staff for their ideas – they might think of things that haven’t occurred to you.

Public Relations Don’t assume that PR is just for big companies: even the smallest enterprise can use publicity opportunities to attract the attention of its audience. Writing a press release can give you valuable publicity. There are many obvious events which you can tell your local press about: a move to new premises, new services, a new member of staff, significant business anniversaries, or the launch of a new website. PR isn’t just about press coverage: you can influence people and raise awareness of your enterprise in a number of different ways: • Enter local, national or sectorspecific awards

•Order less stock but more often

• Be prepared to give talks or presentations about what you do

•Change your insurance or power suppliers and accountants: don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or a review of charges

• Meet opinion formers, local journalists and other business people – network and be visible in your local community

• Reduce any borrowing to minimise bank charges

• Team up with suppliers or customers to achieve joint publicity.

Like it or not the world of social enterprise has changed forever.

Spot The Difference… Like it or not the world of social enterprise has changed forever. The Coalition Government’s ‘Big Society’ challenges us all to stop playing a social enterprise and to do it for real. No one has the money or indeed the patience to support those who simply want to carry on playing at enterprise in a grant funded environment. The gloves are off and it’s time to fight. Three proud new bearers of the sparkling ‘Social Enterprise Mark’ told their story at the SEEE strategy launch a few months ago. One was passionate beyond reason, one a pragmatist who knew that profit was vital and the other from the public sector. He more than the others was clearly revelling in the new found freedom and autonomy social enterprise was giving him. Would a newcomer hearing these three speak invest in them? In reverse order I think the answer would be yes, maybe and no. Shocking though it may seem, only the guy with the professionalism of a public sector background; with the most businesslike approach would in my view escape the ‘Dragons’ Den’ intact. The others would be shredded. Why? Because unless you can match your passion with a clear plan to make profit, few will want to support you. Phillip Blond, author of ‘Red Tory’ and in the view of many the principle architect of ‘Big Society’ says it another way. “In tomorrow’s world,” he explains, “every enterprise will be a social enterprise.” And I’ll tell you what; I’m convinced he’s right.

Robert Ashton’s latest book ‘How to be a Social Entrepreneur’ is available on Amazon. He is also an entrepreneur and campaigner who advises social entrepreneurs in the East of England.

You see just as big business has embraced and adopted the concept of Fair Trade, so too will they soon all be putting people far higher on their list. It’s happening already, even without the spur and stimulation ‘Big Society’ provides. Let me share an example. Two good friends of mine Martin and Tom work for a homelessness charity in Soho Square. It’s called the ‘House of St Barbabas’ and for decades was a hostel for homeless women, in a gorgeous Georgian building on the corner of Soho Square and Greek Street. Quintessentially is an exclusive

members club catering for the tastes and needs of many of London’s wealthiest people. So what’s the connection I hear you say? Well Quintessentially’s latest and most popular venue for lunch these days is under the plane trees in the courtyard behind the House of St Barnabas. There are also comfortable lounges, bars and meeting rooms. The company now occupies the ground and first floors. Upstairs remain a number of organisations that support the homeless. Rich and poor share the building and profit quite literally from the close association. It really is the shape of things to come. But what’s that mean for us? Well I think it’s a long overdue wake up call. It’s a fundamental shift in commercial attitudes we can see as a opportunity or a threat. Too many social enterprises today are not really enterprising at all. They focus on what may be a quite laudable charitable goal, without protecting their future with a strong sheath of commercial common sense. Just as Fair Trade has boomed on the high street so too will social welfare and environmental action form part of corporate battle plans in Boardrooms up and down the country. A new generation of social entrepreneurs are emerging from the public sector with the private sector not far behind. Where does that leave you? Soon the boot will be on the other foot and innovative new players will enter our game and maybe steal the ball. Only the strongest, most adaptable will survive with the rest inevitably facing merger and acquisition. The good news is that as more people enter the field competition will increase and new opportunities will present themselves. For society’s most vulnerable people, services will improve and new choices emerge. Your choices are also set to improve. Respond to the challenge and lead the change. The alternative for those unwilling to adapt is to find themselves left behind.

My steps to social enterprise: an environmental Adventure By Sepp Eisenriegler


was a High School teacher when I founded the environmental NGO umbrella group Austrian Environmental Consultants. That was the beginning of my social enterprise adventure.

The enormous demand for the repair service led to a spin-off business: the Viennese Repair Network,whichgivesconsumers access to some 60 private repair companies. This has now been replicated in other parts By 1998, I was heading the Waste of Austria to provide repair Management and Resource networks in four localities Efficiency Unit of Austrian ( Environmental Consultants, where I conducted feasibility studies and The collective power of drew up business plans for two networking has always environmental businesses which been important to me, and eventually came to be known as I was involved in founding and the Repair and Service Centre establishing networks of social (RUSZ ) and the Dismantling and enterprises, both Austria-wide Recycling Centre (DRZ). In 2008, (RepaNet and RUSZ became a not-for-profit EU-wide (RREUSE www.rreuse. independent enterprise, still faithful org). to its orginal aim of employing only long-term unemployed and A unique network of social disabled people on permanent enterprises throughout Europe contracts. Today RUSZ and DRZ working in the reuse and repair are both social enterprises boasting sector, RREUSE’s first claim to 160 employees. fame was in successfully lobbying the EU Parliament to include the In its first 10 years, RUSZ helped potential for re-use and repair 300 former long-term unemployed networks in legislation (the and disabled individuals into WEEE Directive and the Waste regular jobs, and gave stability Framework Directive) Without to another 400 hard-to-employ this, the Viennese Repair Network people. We also prevented 10,000 would never have been possible, let tons of waste from electrical and alone become the 12 year-old success electronic equipment, (better story based on the reestablishment known as WEEE) entering the of environmentally friendly, labour waste stream by focusing on intensive repair services in Vienna extending the lifespan of household it is today. The same is true of appliances, consumer electronics DRZ, based on a threefold mission and computers through our repair of reducing environmental impact, service. We also sell second-hand encouraging innovation and appliances, offer an old-fashioned creating jobs. All three aspects of its handyman service and provide mission combine in its unique global energy advice for poor households brand: TrashDesignManufaktur at reasonable prices. (

Trash Design products from Vienna have swept Japan and are sold in museums throughout Europe. Look out for them in the Tate Gallery in London! I am proud that RUSZ and DRZ are both award winning businesses, recognised as Best Practices within the UN-Centre for Urban Settlements, Habitat. RUSZ was also a nominee at the Energy Globe World Awards 2009, received the Austrian Climate Protection Award 2009 and the “Ideas Against Poverty” Innovation Prize in 2009. What I have learned about social enterprise is this: give the longterm-unemployed and disabled a demanding job in a friendly atmosphere and you will be 90% successful!

Networks News - Growing places In early 2010, SEEE invited applications for small grants to develop new and existing networks of benefit to the social enterprise sector in the East of England. One of the successful applicants was the Social Trainers Enterprise Group! (STEnG) in Cambridgeshire. Chris Lee from SEEE joined 14 other travellers for a minibus tour of STEnG enterprises.


e were off to learn firsthand about five enterprises providing training and support for people with learning disabilities; doing what the daily pressure of work often prevents – meeting, listening and learning about social enterprise in action.

“Companion growing” is how Mark had earlier described the tomato plants alongside butternut squash at Darwin

First stop - Darwin Nurseries and Farm Shop in a semi-rural setting east of Cambridge. The diversity of the operation is impressive from sales of tomato plants and hanging baskets, to wallflowers destined for Cambridge University and waste materials, also repairs colleges, and a seasonal trade in at a weekly bike surgery held, Christmas trees. appropriately, at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Nine miles away at the Burwell Community Print Centre, tutors The lunch stop at the nearby OWL and trainee printers have happily Café leaves us well fed-up and ditched liquid ink printing for wondering whether we’ll be able clean digital alternatives. New to climb back on to the minibuses! high-quality products are the The three staff and six students result - T-shirts, mouse-mats, in the café are unphased by the bags, jigsaws and mugs will soon arrival of 14 hungry travellers join the village magazines, annual and the wholesome home-made reports, headed notepaper and meals are wonderful. leaflets that currently keep them busy. Our final stop of the day is at Rowan Humberstone in Cambridge, Our mid-morning stop is where art in all its forms means in Swaffham Bulbeck at the much more than just therapy for beautifully converted barns that people with a range of disabilities, have housed Red2Green for the some severe. past six years. In that time they’ve provided learning development and social opportunities for around 200 people with disabilities and special needs. ‘On your bike’ is one way to look for a job, another might be to knock on the door of OWL Bikes in Sawston – our next port of call - where cycles are repaired, refurbished and, when all else fails, dismantled and recycled. Income is from sales of bikes, spares

50 students are tutored by 13 members of staff, many of them professional artists, creating a variety of artworks in wood and ceramics alongside sculptures and other decorative pieces. Before we disperse there’s talk of another tour of other STEnG members, and opportunities for working even closer together – pooling staff for temporary cover, a short-term opportunities bulletin & centralised Criminal Records Bureau checks. ‘Companion growing’ is how Mark had earlier described the tomato plants alongside butternut squash at Darwin Nurseries at the start of our journey. But he might as well have been describing the relationship between the coworkers and their tutor/carers at all five enterprises we’d visited. Here, care and commitment combine to bear fruit in abundance for staff, students, volunteers and the wider community. For a full version of this article, go to

Bonding with the Board


n Wednesday 7th July, SEEE staff and Board members enjoyed a team building day with SEEE members, Celtic Harmony. Celtic Harmony are situated in Brickendon near Hertford and specialise in school trips and medieval teachings and activities. As we arrived at the site, we were greeted by Luca Parelli and his team with refreshments. The group totalled eleven, with six SEEE staff members and 5 Board members. Whilst enjoying our teas and coffees, we were split into three teams: the boars, bears and stags. With introductions over, timetables of the day’s activities were given to each team. We were told that the aim of the day, apart from teambuilding, was to collect as many gold and silver coins as possible. Coins were rewarded to teams based on levels of completing each task. Each team was informed that, to eat lunch, groups must have collected at least one gold coin, per member of each team. The same was said for leaving camp. If we failed to collect enough, hunger and sleeping under the stars would be on the cards! The morning was full of friendly rivalry and great ways of getting to know our groups. Each team completed tasks involving painting each other’s faces - with blue Celtic symbols in case you were wondering; making summer crowns; bread making – (blood sweat and tears being the main ingredients!); and raft building.

Thankfully, each team had enough gold coins for us all to enjoy a spot of lunch. Phew! A spell of sunshine accompanied the food; a welcomed change from the grim morning weather. Celtic Harmony provided a tasty lunch which was met by more getting to know more about each other. Having satisfyingly stuffed our bellies, we set off in search of our afternoon activities. Our teams were challenged by weaving, a woodland quest and archery. Each task was challenging in its own way. Weaving seemed to be difficult for most at first. After a while, however, a rhythm began to surface. The woodland quest created a feeling of competition. While some teams took a leisurely approach to the cluefinding, others ran around like headless chickens. Archery encouraged a little Robin Hood in some of us; and Maid Marion in others! With enough gold coins for all, we left the camp reflecting on our day. Everyone agreed that it had been enjoyment for all and a great way of getting to know each other better, through fantastic team building activities. Why not follow SEEE’s lead, and get to know your staff and Board members better with a fun day out at Celtic Harmony. You might discover a lot more about each other. Just try to keep the arrows aiming for the plastic animals!

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Oldies of the social enterprise world unite? Around 70 and interested in sharing ideas with other older people? Contact Peter Durrant on 01223 415597 or on

To advertise your business card in the next edition of InTouch – only £25 contact

New member profile “The big society Co-operation, competition and the community When Anglia Regional Co-op joined SEEE recently, the combined contribution of SEEE members to the East of England’s economy shot up over night. With sales of over £300M, 3000+ employees, and more than 300,000 members, the Anglia Co-op is big business.

donating to charity, but you have to ask whether that’s an integral part of their ethics and values, or their business model reacting to evolving customer awareness and demands? The Co-op’s particular relationship with customers in their stores may be another explanation for their business success. The business is diverse and Jones identifies different attractions in the different areas.

For those using optical, travel and funeral services – it’s their reputation for spending more time with customers. Even for the cost-conscious visitors to their department stores, Jones believes a growing number of people want good service first which, he suggests “is why John Lewis do so well”. Trust, he says, plays an important part in attracting customers to their food stores. “Shoppers want good quality, wellLike the other retail co-ops priced food items, from reliable around the country with whom sources, and they trust the Co-op Anglia Regional Co-op shares to provide that”. branding and buying, community engagement is at the core of their The advent of ‘the big society’ business. The Anglia Community has been timely for the Co-op, Fund donates £50,000 a year to coinciding with the first national good causes, and staff donate their Co-operative Fortnight which time and expertise to help other p r o m o t e d businesses and charities. Richard the coJones, Anglia Regional Co-op’s o p e r at i ve Finance Director, for example, ideal and shares his financial expertise as s o c i a l non-executive director of the v a l u e s . Tastes of Anglia not-for-profit While Jones regional food body. believes it won’t It is perhaps putting the c h a n g e community at the heart of their what they business that distinguishes the a l r e a d y Co-op from their competitors, have in the as Jones suggests. “The other pipeline food retailing competitors on the high street are doing great things promoting recycling and looking at energy efficiency and From its beginnings in Peterborough in 1887, it has grown steadily through mergers to its present position as the country’s sixth largest retail coop. Business interests are diverse – food, fashion, furniture, funerals, travel and optical services – operating out of 30 food stores, 37 department stores and 21 funeral homes.

places a great focus on voluntary effort. But we’re here to run a business and we can then decide how we distribute our profits in an ethical way. I prefer people to be rewarded fairly for what they do. What’s important for me is that we employ over 3,000 people who can then choose how they spend their time and the money they


Don’t miss out on the Winter edition of In Touch…We will be discussing what happened at this years Annual Conference and AGM where the theme was

big big : society


big socie ty

chicken? fabor old egg fad? game society:




e your print and Do you want to reduc wsletters, reports, postal costs for your ne ting materials? magazines, and marke e with your published Attract a new audienc materials? entally friendly, Publish in an environm y? carbon neutral wa to publish your SEEE are now offering r superb digital ou materials online on software offers publishing platform. The ding experience readers an excellent rea ding a magazine. which exactly mirrors rea o allows for you to The software we use als page views your monitor the number of king it easy for you publication receives ma u are having to check the impact yo Interested? can offer you the For a limited time SEEE for all publications price of £1 per page you want online you with… SEEE will then provide t you can embed tha link A unique 1. il out to contacts. into your website or ma ’s Twitter Promotion through SEEE 2. contacts

BIG Questions

Your document online

Do you have an Do you want toy news? Social Enterpri reach out to everybody in th the East of En se or wider co-operative sect e an event, are logland. So if you want to publor in announcement, oking for help, want to make icise an etc., we are her e to help. Your article or professionally message doesn’t have to be prepared or ev work on the pre en tidy - we ca material, imagessentation of it. Please emain l an , queries, etc. to uk.

Are you following us on Twitter? - @SEeastofengland Have you visited our Wiki? - Would you like to read this online? - Would you like to advertise? -

business-to-business transferring skills for grwoth

Effective staff management? Unsure how to scale up operations? Need to cut back on services? Introducing something new to your business? Make it happen? Increase stakeholder engagement? Team working? Project management Or something else‌

scale up operations introducing something new

Finally A Solution: You need a powerful short intervention by a Micro Coach who can share the specific expertise, skills or knowledge they have about business with you in 3 hour session. Micro Coaches is an exciting peer-topeer support programme that unlocks

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skills and expertise in small organisations to improve productivity, knowledge and growth. It supports the full range of small businesses, including social enterprise, women’s enterprise, BME enterprise and sector specific enterprise. The Micro Coaches themselves work in social enterprises, community organisations or the private sector, and what they all have in common are specific skills that they use to run their business, and the knowledge to help you learn and apply those skills to your business

ask about our discounted rates for social enterprises

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if you want to run with tigers - you need to wear stripes

InTouch Issue 31  

Autumn 2010. In Touch magazine is the only magazine devoted to social enterprise. This edition focusses on working with the private sector.