How to get ahead … as a social entrepreneur

Summary

A new guide for social entrepreneurs offers advice about where they can get help, start-up funds and develop their business

03Mar.
0

An online directory of support for entrepreneurs, including those who run a social business, has been launched by the charity New Entrepreneurs Foundation. The guide, which is thought to be the first of its kind, lists more than 500 different organisations that can advise young entrepreneurs about where they can get help, including start-up funds, to develop their ideas and mould them into a profit-making business.

The guide [...] lists more than 500 different organisations that can advise young entrepreneurs

The foundation decided to launch the guide on the back of the success of its own entrepreneur development programme which has been running for three years. Annually about 1,000 applicants compete for one of up to 35 places on offer in the one-year scheme. Foundation chief executive Neeta Patel says: « For a while now we had been thinking about whether there was something for those who didn’t get selected – could we give them some advice and point them in the right direction? We started a Word document list of the organisations which we knew of and it grew to something quite significant. »

The guide has been revealed as the foundation recruits the fourth cohort to its New Entrepreneurs Programme, which aims to create enterpreneurial leaders across the public, voluntary and private sectors. Entrepreneurs are paid a £21,000 salary in London and £19,000 outside the capital and are offered a year’s placement with an organisation where they are mentored and supported in developing their business skills and knowledge.

Networking events are organised as part of the programme and executive coaching and mentoring is also provided. The group also completes 25 days of learning during the year to focus on what skills a successful entrepreneur needs. Patel says: « We develop the soft skills which an MBA doesn’t such as how to build a team and how to create your own personal brand. »

So far 92 young entrepreneurs have completed the programme out of which 26 new ventures have been started. Patel says many of the entrepreneurs look for ideas that create businesses with a social purpose.

She says: « A lot of this generation, people in their early 20s, are working on ventures which have a beneficial element – social good work. We wouldn’t have seen this four or five years ago – it’s the idea that profit is good but so is doing good; it’s about profit with a purpose. »

Ry Morgan is an alumnus of the 2012-13 cohort. The 25-year-old management and business studies graduate self-funded to complete the programme, keen to mix with like-minded individuals. He says: « The appeal to me was to have the opportunity to meet driven individuals of my own age, which is extremely invigorating. »

Morgan has launched his own social business « PleaseCycle » – a software service aimed at organisations including local authorities, schools and businesses, encouraging more employees or individuals to cycle, run or walk to keep fit. The scheme has a point rewards system; the more individuals exercise, the more points they earn which can be exchanged for goods on the high street or a charitable donation. So far 15,000 people from 25 different organisations have registered with PleaseCycle.

Morgan welcomes the foundation guide which he says would « categorically » have been helpful when he was starting up his business. It’s a view shared by fellow alumnus Nick Morris, the young entrepreneur behind the eXtensible Volunteer System (XVS) – an online volunteer-management platform that matches university undergraduates with volunteering opportunities. Students download their CV on to the system and can find a charity which matches their requirements. Launched 18 months ago, the business has 12,500 students registered who have completed a total of 120,000 hours of volunteering.

Morris says: « The directory is invaluable to entrepreneurs at all levels. It’s something I would use as there is no easy way to know what things and support is out there. To have it all in one place will make such a huge difference. »

Morris, who graduated from the programme this year, is typical of the entrepreneur spoken of by Patel. He says: « I would like to think that all of my businesses will have a social purpose – to me that is the option you have. If you can run a successful business and have a social purpose at the same time, well why wouldn’t you? »

Reblogged from theguardian.com

Photo © Shutterstock / Riccardo Piccinini