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.