Social Enterprise UK Place | Birmingham wins funding to drive growth of social enterprises
Birmingham Social Enterprise City has been selected to be part of a programme to boost the city’s business to business (B2B) social enterprises. The Buy Social Regional Programme will support Birmingham’s social enterprises by helping them find customers and access new markets.
Birmingham Social Enterprise City will receive £20,000 of support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery through the Postcode Innovation Trust, which will be used to grow the social enterprise ecosystem in the area, bringing together the area’s social enterprises with other businesses and potential buyers such as public sector bodies and universities.
Birmingham is already an accredited SEUK Social Enterprise Place, having been recognised as a hotspot of social enterprise activity. There are currently around 700 in Birmingham – businesses set up to trade for a social or environmental purpose and which re-invest the majority of their profits back into doing more good. They are taking on some of the biggest issues we face from homelessness to the climate emergency and are helping create jobs and opportunities for people throughout Birmingham.
Examples of social enterprises in Birmingham include Better Pathways a social enterprise that helps people with mental health issues, learning difficulties and disabilities to grow skills and confidence and therefore engage more fully in our communities.
The funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will be used to drive engagement with local social enterprises with a commitment to have at least three major local buyers committed to buying goods and services from social enterprise suppliers. At least two training sessions will be carried out for institutions in Birmigham to encourage them to use their spend with social enterprises and ‘meet the buyer’ events will be held to enable social enterprises to connect with organisations they can do business with. The aim is to engage at least 100 social enterprises in the first year of the programme.
The Buy Social Regional Programme is run by Social Enterprise UK, the membership body for social enterprises which represents the over 100,000 social enterprises in the country. The Programme will be directed locally by The Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs (ISE) based in Digbeth, itself a hotspot of Social Enterprise Activity. ISE supports Social Enterprises in their growth plans and actively engages with the business community to ensure that Social Enterprises are recognised as a fantastic way of doing good business.
The Programme builds on SEUK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge which has seen 20 leading businesses, from PwC to Johnson & Johnson, open up their supply chains to social enterprises. The Regional Programme will seek to replicate the Corporate Challenge at a regional level, working with local businesses and public sector bodies to create new partnerships. Birmingham based social enterprises will also be given the opportunity to work with companies from the national Corporate Challenge programme who have operations in the surrounding area.
Commenting on being selected for the Programme Sarah Crawley CEO of ISE said:
“We are extremely pleased that Birmingham has been selected as one of the four Places on the Programme.
Social Enterprises in Birmingham are thriving. The Buy Social Regional Programme will help them to develop new trading relationships and give businesses a greater understanding of the Social Value that can be gained by trading with Social Enterprises.
Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK added:
“Social enterprises are at the centre of their communities – taking on local issues, creating jobs and opportunities where they are needed most and pushing a different model of doing business based on reducing inequalities whilst driving growth at a local level. They are transforming the places they work but often need help accessing markets.
The Buy Social Regional Programme will support social enterprises in Birmingham to win more customers and, in doing so, increase their impact.”
Joe Ray, People’s Postcode Lottery’s Social Investment & Innovation Advisor commented:
“I am really pleased that funding raised by our players is supporting the Buy Social Regional Programme through the Postcode Innovation Trust’s Social Enterprise Support Programme. Our goal is to support social enterprises to innovate and develop solutions to the big challenges that face society. We know social enterprises are working hard to meet these challenges but often need help accessing new markets and building the connections to help them flourish. This programme will bring them together with key buyers in their local area, growing the social enterprise eco-system and placing social enterprise at the heart of local economic development.”