Category: Interviews

Interview with Pam Vaughan

What’s your experience in terms of Social Enterprise?

I’m here representing the Association of Colleges. I know a bit about how enterprise is taught in colleges and I have been doing some work on how it’s taught in India. We are developing a project there.

What is the project?

It’s being launched by one of our colleges. It has joint funding from the UK and Indian governments putting together to fund projects which develop collaborations around different phases of education. I’m particularly interested in further education.

There’s an initiative in India that’s being piloted now. Polytechnics in India tend to be very focused on young people, who will receive a couple of years’ training specialised subjects. What they don’t have much of [in India] is training for adults, in their twenties or over.

So the purpose of the project is to bring in these people who maybe missed out on education opportunities. We have a lot of further education colleges in the UK that serve people with different needs i.e. someone who has decided on a career change. There isn’t as much of that in India.

So we’re trying to get these colleges that are very focused on younger students to open up their provision to the wider community, particularly to poorer people. It’s quite different for the teachers and lecturers so part of the project is to help them build this capacity for engagement. It’s a big thing for an adult to go back into education.

The project is jointly made with the All India Council for Technical Education and the British Council. They want to have a student engagement project. We’re doing the project on entrepreneurship. It’s about direct delivery from the UK institution, to try and develop entrepreneurial behaviours in community college students, often adults. It’ll be delivered face to face. There will be an online learning programme as well. There will also be Skype, distance-based learning.

At the end of it, they will get a UK certification and will be more sensitised to behaving like an entrepreneur.

What challenges are there in India in this area?

The cost is about five times more expensive in the UK, which is a big difference for India.

The students in some of the Indian colleges pay £40 a year. There’s no similar comparison here.

Also, a typical class size in India is 60-70 students.

We had some Indian tutors come over to Portsmouth last year. They were surprised by all the facilities and who was responsible for them. In India, a tutor is responsible for huge rooms and all the property within them. If a chair goes missing, they have to pay for it. It’s very different.

Also, as the colleges are doing something they haven’t done before, there are things they are not used to, such as marketing themselves.

In the terms of the UK working with India, it’s obviously very far away and very different. Sending people from the UK to India, where they won’t know how to navigate themselves, isn’t easy. Organising around all these issues costs money. There’s a lot of potential and goodwill but there are also a lot of difficulties.

We were having a discussion earlier about entrepreneurship being embedded in the curriculum. One of the Indian gentlemen [in the room] said they were not ready for that because they are still struggling with the basics.

I’m sympathetic to that to an extent, but entrepreneurship is being embedded in the way the environment, for example, is being taught, alongside reading, writing etc.

As a former teacher, there’s nothing worse than being told you have to cover numeracy, literacy, grammar etc in your lessons. But you can do those things if it’s presented well.

Interview with Wayne Farah

What is your background in Social Enterprise?

I’m the Vice-Chair for Newham Clinical Commissioning group, which is a GP-led organisation, though I’m a layperson. We’re responsible for most healthcare budgeting for people in Newham, including purchasing, performance monitoring etc in Newham Borough

A part of my role is ensuring patient and public involvement which involves looking into how social enterprises in Newham can help deliver health services in the borough. We’ve been working with a number of charities developing programmes around how they can help us engaging with different communities, finding out different needs, commissioning new services etc.

What have you found thus far?

We’re at fairly early stages. We have recently awarded a big commission to a consortium of around fifteen local organisations on a pre-diabetic programme. We’re learning a lot at the moment.

Newham has a long history of social enterprises and third sector organisations in the borough and we want to find out how we can more effectively work with them.

What kind of social enterprises are here?

They range from the West Ham United Foundation to Active Newham to Newham Afro-Caribbean association. Some are very small and targeted, others are bigger.

We have to learn, as a statutory sector how to harness their abilities for the future.

What are the challenges in trying to engage with social enterprises?

Most are the internal structures we’ve inherited. The NHS is pretty good at talking to the NHS but not to external parties. It’s a very clinical model and it can be hard to translate the clinical and the social model and bringing them both together. You have to work with them over time.

The public sector isn’t geared up to things going wrong and that is part of the process. We have to change. How do we change? How do we show other partners that we are serious about changes? These are important questions for us.

Interview with John Mulkerrin

Hello, please tell me a little more about yourself and your experience in Social Enterprise

John Mulkerrin CIC Associations CIC. We are a business network primarily to represent and build the understanding engagement and utility of the CIC legislation. We incorporated in 2009 after forming in 2008. We have 4500 members now. We provide different levels of advice to different stakeholders so, we’ve got the entrepreneur groupings, professionals coming in trying to find out how to use it and other stakeholders such as medical groups, local authorities, libraries, transfer of assets, transfer of services to the community etc. The key achievement of the association was the changes to the CIC caps, which governs the distribution of profit on the CIC shares. When it was brought out, the original plan was for it to have one cap, it was put out to consultation. We put together a consultation and some proposals and put it through parliament October 2014.

We data scrape from the wider community. We have this year completed 3.5% of CIC’s completed our survey. We provide verification and ratification to the professional services. A lot of them are dealing with approaches from clients. Particular with joint ventures you get requests about the legislation, with regards to changes in the legislation to check it’s the same as company house. Confidence building scenarios. We help incorporate CIC’s and give them any answers they need.

What challenges are there in terms of providing your expertise?

The commonalities are the same. The objectives are described differently. Two CIC’s have different aims. One is to provide services to elderly people [for example], one to the youth. The function and utility within that should be the same.

Then you have another level. What is a social enterprise and what is a social entrepreneur? You have CIC’s which are not for profit, then others which are more dynamic equity models. The plan for one is to cure or solve a problem in the medical area and make a £50 million profit when it gets bought out by a big Pharma company. Its social objective is to create that product. We encourage holism as such but the other side of what we have to do is put in place the fact that not too many ideologies can be placed on this legislation, that you can do whatever you want with it… the solution’s going to come from the variability. We have non-profit and profit solutions to the same challenge. And they’re both succeeding. How’s that work? Surely only one should win. No, doesn’t work like that. Good business is good business however you describe it. Good social activity is good social activity. Positive activity is positive activity.

When it comes to training in a social enterprise sense, do you try to give them this holistic understanding?

I come from an IFA background. My career’s been [in] financial services. I come from a-better-inform-you-to-make-your-own-decision type scenario. I don’t really prescribe, like a lot of financial advisory services, which don’t suit the environment. What you need to do is listen to the entrepreneur and then feedback to them. There are commonalities within that. People want to know how to get the paperwork done, how to get a grant and they’ll figure out the rest once they get there. Then you’ve got middle scenarios where existing companies have succeeded in one borough and then other boroughs want to work with them and they want them to come in and bid. There are questions like capital flows which weren’t there before. The requirements for accountancy, legals become greater, for example.

Academic work like this won’t determine success. What will decide it is if the structures are in place and there’s engagement from the community. That decides everything.

Is there a gap between the academic and business world that needs to be bridged?

Those things are clichés. Departmentality? The CIC legislation is run under Biz, but also social enterprise funding comes from Cabinet Office hence why Kick has never been given funding for Kick CIC specific development

Because we’re promoting the generic term social enterprise, we can’t do anything particular with it, we have to include all these maybe, maybe nots, and end up spending our money on the events to discuss these things rather than the implementation of modular education products.

You seem to have more knowledge of the legislative side. Is it a big challenge getting legislation through?

Legislation is everything. The rest is fluff. I’m a social enterpriser until I walk into a boardroom door. And then I’m a Kick. What is a social enterpriser?

Some of these terms I get very disinterested in with the wider discussions. We often end up educating fresh faces.

Is talent the key driving force for any enterprise?

No. Need.

External need?

What’s external?

Supply and demand

Need. Need drives everything.

What does that entail?

Why does an entrepreneur start something for money?

Multiple reasons

He needs something. Ego return. Financial return, whatever. There are narcissists that are social entrepreneurs. Some people judge the motivation of your activity and sometimes it is the outcome. If I shot a German, and he was going to shoot five people, some people would say I should have because I saved five people, some people would say I shouldn’t have. Right there is the question, what do you judge me on? People are polar. It’s the same with a lot of these activities.

The entrepreneurs I work with are trying to solve problems whether they are driven by profit or community focused ideals. Social enterprise as a term is something we can now aggregate around.

I think I give permission to entrepreneurs to be more brave, to not be intimidated and try and achieve things. A lot of people don’t get the encouragement.

I’m someone who’s been entering new ground since I was born. I seek it, most people are terrified by it. I don’t mind failing, I call that learning… I prefer to work with someone who has passion. I’d rather train someone for ten hours if they have passion than if they don’t.

I tend to do one to one stuff for free with micro-businesses. The people I worked with might not have written a bid in their life. I’ve helped succeed a lot of people getting to the first phase.

I would guestimate I get contacted by about 50 students a year and I see the level of their work is very basic. There are problems in the educational programmes.

Interview with Jessica McGreal

Interview with Dr Sanjay Pal

What do you do and what is your role in Social Enterprise?

I am a faculty member in Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India. I’ve worked there since 1996. My major area is Economics, rural marketing and SME cluster developments.

Entrepreneurship is one of the important areas our institute pursues. We promote entrepreneurs through different activities and training programmes. We have a programme called EDP (Entrepreneurship Development Programme). We have conducted such projects since 1996. Some of our graduates are doing extremely well both inside and outside India. We have provided many entrepreneurs globally.

A second part of our work is improving the businesses of existing entrepreneurs, helping them to improve their productivity, their output, their revenue etc, and helping them move to the next trajectory of growth.

Apart from these developments, we are doing a lot of activities to ensure there is the right eco-system for entrepreneurs to develop and be nurtures. It may be a bankers programme, a programme for the industry associations, for government officials and more.

For the last 15 years we have introduced entrepreneurship education in the sense that we offer postgraduate diplomas in business entrepreneurship. It is a two-year programme. We have around 120 students. Through the programme, we provide inputs on management and entrepreneurship. The difference to a typical MBA is we provide all inputs on entrepreneurship. The objective is very important in the sense that at the end of the programme they start their own enterprise and become successful.

There is another specialisation we focus on in, which is Family Business Management. It’s common for a father to manage a business successfully, but subsequent generations suffer. How do we inculcate a culture of successful planning in the next generation of enterprise so they don’t just run it as their father did, but move to the next level of growth? This is one of the important domains we cater to and have for over 25 years.

We have been working with many international agencies in terms of serving the cause of entrepreneurship development and taking existing entrepreneurs to the next level of growth.

Recently, we started our endeavour in terms of promoting social entrepreneurship, hence our collaboration with UEL. The ultimate objective is that a limited number of colleges and universities will offer entrepreneurship as a programme or an embedded programme in their existing courses. In order to ensure success, we’re helping with the materials of the modules (i.e. reading materials). We are developing all the modules which help students read and understand what social entrepreneurship is.

The social angle is getting increasingly important. It is to promote businesses that don’t pollute the environment but minimise it, for example. You should promote businesses which should reduce global warming (for example). Good practices are the basic principles which need to be promoted, and that is partly done through social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurs promote causes facing a society through their activities. If it is an employment problem, for example, we should promote businesses who can help manufacture activity.

Social entrepreneurs should earn profit but also address one of the problems facing their society. The global economy needs social responsible enterprises.

An important aim for us is to help students understand that they can be a social responsible entrepreneur. They can be a doctor, an astronaut, a social entrepreneur. We want them to understand that.

He or she should be able to create jobs for people in their vicinity. The overall objective is to promote socially responsible businesses.

Traditionally in India I imagine you have mostly had men do these training programmes. Is this changing?

Average statistics show it is highly biased towards men but there is some change happening and there will be more women taking business as a career opportunity more seriously. It is happening more in the highly educated sectors of society. But people in rural areas show limited examples of women promoting new ventures.

We have created a particle called Centre for Women Entrepreneurship which tries to promote women entrepreneurs.


Interview with Breda Leyne

What is your experience with Social Enterprise?

I am the director of a small social enterprise company called E-Squared, enterprise and employability. It provides enterprise and employability training and programmes with, particularly, young people.

We also do projects in schools and with community groups.

What has your experience been in terms of the success of the programmes?

We’ve learned a few lessons about the model. The idea was to have students come in and test their own programmes and see if they were viable to scale up. One of the original students is still on board (as a director) but he is low profile, because he ended up getting a job. Recruting students year on year hasn’t proven successful. We had a great crop at the beginning, who haven’t really been replaced. We keep it going though, because we still believe in the programmes. But we don’t have the manpower.

If they’ve got jobs, isn’t that part of the success of the programme?

It is, because as individuals they’re successful. They’ve also used what they’ve learned on their CV’s. But it possibly isn’t sustainable to keep the programme going for that purpose.

What do the students expect from the programmes and how does it differ from what they get?

They have to learn how to run a business as part of their entrepreneurship module. They were looking to tie this in with social enterprise aims which is about putting something back into the community, but the intention was that they would find a compromise where they put something back in but also sustain a livelihood.

What about government funding?

We get no government funding. Part of the reason to set it up as a formal social enterprise funding was to get grant funding which has been successful on a couple of occasions.

It doesn’t get government funding and the idea is not to be reliant on government funding.

What is the biggest challenge for social enterprise businesses?

For mine the biggest challenge has been sustaining the staffing turnover, having people to deliver the programmes.

Interview with Bob Lindsay

What is your background in Social Enterprise and Social Enterprise training?

It’s not as direct and hands on in one sense. I’m basically retired. Previous to that I had a lot of experience in organisational development and change and, also, in environmental strategies. In those areas, I worked for a county council in Hampshire. What we did there (in recycling and recovery) was to fund a number of people who wanted to set up businesses in recycling.

We gave pump-priming money to people and some mentoring and support. I was then a consultant in the South-East regional development agency and we had a fund. We gave a couple of million out to companies that could not raise capital [themselves] because they were very small.

For example, we gave a company in Southampton £150,000 for lorries, construction materials etc. I saw five lorries when I was there recently.

Latterly, I’ve been a trustee of the public monuments association and now Art UK and the vision there is to make art and culture available to the public. Both organisations have been looking at engaging social groups and asking ‘how can you add value’ and ‘how can you create value in the art world’, which is a really difficult question at the moment.

It may emerge from photography or people in tourism, or the development of apps, which exist, but in a more focused way.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of social enterprise training and provision, especially in terms of ‘added value’?

Firstly, there’s not much money. It’s all well to encourage universities and students, but… you need some mentoring or pump priming support funding.

My question is, ‘where is the leadership’ and ‘what topics are potential social enterprise students being taught’?

What do you think people expect from Social Enterprise programme and what should be the key provisions?

I think you’ve got to have a lightning rod between the capability to deliver [and the teaching]. Leaving university, people go into a harsh world, particularly at the moment.

People need to work harder at finding the right niches for themselves. A lot of things are replicable though. We did something on furniture re-use a while ago. But these schemes came about because me and my team had a small amount of money, there was a need and we were able to work out a business plan with them, and they could use the money we provided. You need to get over that initial hump. There needs to be a bit more of a link.

What’s the importance of ongoing support?

Ongoing support is important and also the network. You need to know what the community needs are.

You also need to ‘future proof’ a bit. You don’t want to set up companies in the area that don’t grow and expand. You need someone to know what people in an area want before they loan money.

Often it’s the case that a good idea is badly communicated. The people with money may reject it simply because it’s badly presented. There is therefore a ‘brokerage’ role regarding support.

What about governmental support?

There isn’t going to be a lot of government money. There’s a lot of research, but generally not much money.

Interview with Andre Mostert

What is your knowledge of social enterprise and your experience in the area?

AndreUEL PhotoI’ve been working in social enterprise for the last five years formally, prior to that it was much more informal. Presently my major focus is on social enterprise support, supporting enterprise developments and looking at how we create formal structures to encourage business development, nurturing of start-ups and obviously then with a bias towards social enterprise.

How does this centre promote social enterprise, training, education etc?

Historically the whole idea that education is more classroom based and training being on the job type of situation. For us, we don’t have that distinction. Our goal is to nurture not necessarily just young people but predominantly young people who have an interest in entrepreneurship and the distinction between private entrepreneurship rather than social entrepreneurship is something we’ve not really focused on. More recently, because of the developments internationally around the concept, we’re moving towards that bias but in a sense our philosophy as a support centre is that everyone is an entrepreneur to a degree anyway and how we encourage them to realise their aspirations, whether it be through an education based structure which would be more formal, or a training basis with workshops and other support mechanisms and we’re flexible in that respect.

With students in the UK, what do they expect from Social enterprise training.

In a sense we’re still in the early days of having that specialisation in social enterprise. A lot of our local students, when confronted by an enterprise programme, they tend to veer towards social enterprise solutions because they’re motivated by problems in their communities and would like to find solutions. It’s not a ubiquitous opportunity in our communities. A lot of students haven’t had exposure to entrepreneurship per se and many of them aren’t seeing it as a viable career alternative. They think it looks interesting. The students do enjoy the methodology. You’re not assessed as to whether it’s a viable idea or not. For me it’s more a case of training people in the process of what it means to start a solution or start a business.

How do you do needs assessments and analyse effectiveness of programmes and how does that link into getting funding or businesses involved?

When it’s part of a formal process your impacts and metrics are part of a formal education process, so it perpetuates the modular based submission/evaluation system. In terms of the training element, and supporting entrepreneurs moving from the classroom and creating something sustainable, our success has been fairly limited. Perhaps because we’re operating in a conventional system and we don’t have the resource base. Someone who has a strong entrepreneurial bend will probably get on without us. In that sense, we have to nurture entrepreneurial spirit, which requires ongoing support. The challenge is to ensure we don’t go the same avenue of having formal systems that become ends in themselves. How we measure impact is a key element and a key gap in the academic area in this regard. In order to attract more state and other financial support we need to create some sort of effective metrics, which is not a debate institutions like to have as there does tend to be a questioning of the rationale as to how the whole operation operations. Analysis is going to be much more prevalent, especially in times of austerity.

What is the demand for this kind of programme? It must be challenging given that qualitative data is hard to come by?

That’s one of the reasons why we, with our programme have moved towards focusing on the idea that your life is a business, and improbability forms a big part of that. Just because you are focusing on an entrepreneurial course per se, it doesn’t mean you have to go on to be an entrepreneur. Many people on our programmes go on to more traditional jobs in the short-term, others do go straight into the entrepreneurial world.

What are the shortfalls of social enterprise training?

To impart the skills needed to be an entrepreneur aren’t difficult (managing finances etc.) but the underlying motivation has to be intrinsic to the individual is something we find difficult to nurture. They tend to be delivered by educators and so there is that education/nurture feeling that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the realities of what being an entrepreneur is. The programmes don’t give that exposure to what it really means to be an entrepreneur. There are a number of strengths in creating an eco-system where a young person, or entrepreneur of any age gets a sense of what it takes in terms of commitment and focus. But translating those types of strengths in terms of experience and access, is extremely difficult. With things like social enterprise, people feel like their idea is such a good idea, and it invariably is, but they feel the authorities should tick a box and give them money, so [when that doesn’t happen] their ambition can easily be diluted by failure. It winds someone down obviously. Creating a structure which allows budding entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to safely engage with the realities as they mature as an individual is where the weakness lies, beyond the modular basis. How do those modules form a reality?

What government support than you need?

Creating an environment where failure is accepted as part of the process is important. Government must give more funding, but that’s an ideal situation, it’s not going to really happen. The nurturing and the enabling legislation is in place in this country, not necessarily elsewhere.