Asian Resource Centre of Croydon as part of the partnership with the voluntary sector infrastructure agencies in Croydon started a project in 2012 to support the development of social enterprises in the Borough of Croydon. An exciting package of training, business mentoring as well as regular networking hub events took place across Croydon as part of the project delivery.
Funding came from the Cabinet Office for Civil Society and the project lasted for 18 month, which enabled the four infrastructure partners to streamline our services to achieve greater efficiencies and allowed us to establish sustainable funding services for groups. Together, we have provided help with establishing social enterprise, managing your finances, access to loan finance, deals on back-office services as well as advice on cost saving.
Asian Resource Centre’s role was to assist in the creation, support and development of social enterprises. This was done through: -
Mapping social enterprise sector in Croydon.
Establishing a social enterprise network
Providing enterprise mentoring
Training/Boot Camp for social entrepreneurs
Setting up social enterprise and/or trading arms
Supporting social enterprises to bid for start-up funding
Although the project has now ended we continue to provide help and assistance around social enterprise with the limited capacity we have.
Below are some useful links: -
Report from ARCC's Social Enterprise Launch Event
26th July 2012 | Croydon Park Hotel
ARCC’s launch event for its Social Enterprise project at Croydon Park hotel on July 26th got off to a great start. Informative and engaging presentations were made by a panel which included Jane Bateman from the department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Jivko Hristov from Croydon Council’s Economic Development Team and Robert Foster from the social enterprise Red Ochre. They all gave their take on the growth and place of social enterprise. Stallholders included Clearlyso, a social enterprise raising finance for social entrepreneurs and GLE and Prevista which support SMEs in Croydon. Mr Kanags, Chair of ARCC, opened the event urging attendees to make the most of the networking opportunity and ARCC’s training and mentoring for social enterprises
‘Social enterprise is an idea whose time has come,’ stated Jane from BIS. In fact there has been a shift in the last 12 months in interest, impact and what social enterprises are doing. BIS cited that nationally there are 68,000 social enterprises contributing approximately £24 billion to the economy. Their social impact – undoubtedly - even bigger. The government are interested in social enterprise as typically they operate in socially deprived areas, lead to local wealth creation and employ local people. However, social enterprise is yet to pass ‘the man on the street test’ meaning there is a lack of awareness amongst the wider public of what social enterprise is all about. BIS alongside the Cabinet Office have an educational role in promoting social enterprise.
‘Social enterprise is the missing link between people and business,’ stated Jivko from Croydon Council. It is a unique way of doing business, brings the best from people, gives back to, and cares for, the community. The ARCC project, he noted, is very timely in covering the gap which was left when earlier support programmes in Croydon ended in 2008. The Council’s new emerging economic development strategy confirms the support the Council are willing to give to this sector.
Robert Foster, a serial social entrepreneur, tackled the issue of definitions which the term social enterprise frequently suffers from. In the absence of a legal definition it is understood as a way of trading for a social purpose, although one delegate found the term trading itself to be restrictive. Mr Foster enumerated the positives for social enterprises - as grassroots they are typically fast moving, agile, non-bureaucratic and delivering services to fill need. He conceded there are challenges for the sector in terms of sustainability and capabilities. You have to face difficult decisions. ‘Can you afford to go on holiday whilst getting your social business off the ground?’ Or can you afford to eat? ‘I lived off baked beans for a year! Robert confessed.
At Questions and Answers delegates were interested to know more about the local social enterprise landscape in Croydon. Red Ochre is currently mapping the sector for ARCC so findings will be available presently, although the estimate from Jivko was 150-200 self defining social enterprises in Croydon. One delegate was interested in case studies of social enterprises addressing health needs and another in offering banking services. SELDOC (South East London Doctors’ Co-operative) and Central Surrey Health are examples of public sector spin-outs, mutuals owned by employees. As for banking, credit unions are a good example and MyBnk, a social enterprise promoting financial and enterprise education amongst youth. And how does business mentoring actually help a social entrepreneur? was a query from another attendee. ‘It’s not just an hour of one-to-one advice. It is a concentrated version of that mentor’s life story and experience. Not just want worked but more usefully what went wrong for them,’ advised Robert. The final question before the networking session packed a punch: is social enterprise just a fad going to die out? According to the presentations made at the launch from the national to the local context social enterprise is most definitely here to stay.
Social Enterprise Toolkit
ARCC was commissioned by Croydon Council and created a toolkit in the area of Social Enterprise including information about the various forms and structures that exist for setting up.
You can read the full report by clicking on the "Socail Enterprise Toolkit" lnk below: -
Social Enterprise Project Resources
Click on links below to view publications in PDF relating to social enterprise: -