If you have ever read Big Issue over a cup of flat white from The Hive, while enjoying a bar of Divine chocolate, then you probably know a little something about Social Enterprises.
Social Enterprises are businesses that direct their profit to help the local or international community. They make their money by selling goods or offering some sort of services. When you buy produce from a social enterprise you are basically investing money back into your local community, so you know that the money you worked hard for won’t go to waste.
UnLtd, a leading support service for Social Enterprises in the UK, questioned over 1000 companies and it shows brilliant statistics in favour for this type of businesses. Estimated annual wage value of jobs created by social ventures is £45 million! That is A LOT. 62,000 volunteering opportunities were created, meaning not only the people in need benefited but volunteers got the chance to expand their CV and experience too. The money generated went into helping people integrate in the community as well as help them develop their essential skills to get a job.
One of the most popular ways to run a social enterprise is by opening a coffee shop. Most of them use locally sourced food, organic and Fairtrade coffee (at the Hive Café our coffee is triple certified, just for good measure!). A lot of enterprises tend to work with each other. Let’s say a coffee shop is donating all of their profit to local charity- that is great in itself- but what’s even better is that they get all of their food products from another Social Enterprise! It is in this way that they create a perfect and sustainable circle for successful business.
Starting your own Social Enterprise is really challenging, but there are companies like UnLtd or Social Enterprise UK which are here to help you with all the paper work needed to start as well as tips and tricks on what not to do. 21% of all the social enterprises are started by people aged 18-24 which is the majority of our university demographic. If you’re not sure where to get the money to start everything, then your best bet would be KickStarter. Most of Social Enterprises have been started that way and it spreads the word about your amazing plans to huge numbers of people.
At the moment, there’s a huge boom of social enterprises here in London and there’s a number of coffee shops that are definitely worth visiting. Kahaila Café is located in Brick Lane and has heavenly good pastries as well as one of the best Flat Whites I’ve ever tried. There’s Platform One Café in Clapham and Flapjacks Café in Kentish Town that are part of The Camden Society and are definitely worth a visit. And of course there’s our very own Hive Café, Digby Square. The Hive is a good example of sustainable business circle. The sandwiches sold here are made by Feel Good Bakery which is also a Social Enterprise and we are one of their main clients. If all social enterprises help each other then I guess the sky is the limit.
I really hope that you got some good ideas how Social Enterprises work and why are they so important.
Source: University of Roehampton