Ethical entrepreneurs are being invited to start up their own social enterprises with the help of Business Link in the West Midlands.
The group recently launched a Social Enterprise start-up service today, with the promise of providing one-on-one advice and new training modules aimed at explaining what an ethical business is, identifying community need and how you can set yourself apart from mainstream businesses.
The free service also intends to help existing community and voluntary groups consider becoming a social enterprise and start generating income from trading.
A social enterprise is a not-for-profit company run along business lines, but with a social goal in mind, with all the profits invested back into the company.
Jill Parker, the enterprise director at Business Link in the West Midlands, said: “This arena is one of the fastest growing sectors for start-ups in the region and we have to make sure we provide a tailored offer that meets the specific needs of these organisations.
“At the heart of this approach will be the introduction of social enterprise specialists to deliver the support and this will be supplemented by a whole host of new training opportunities.”
Sarah Crawley, the chief executive of the Birmingham-based Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs, is one of the providers, and said said she was keen to see more and more social enterprises in the Midlands.
“We’re really delighted that Business Link is helping to promote these very important ventures, which are businesses in their own right,” she said.
“These enterprises focus on supporting the community by helping specific groups or the environment, or other ethical causes. Unlike a commercial profit-driven business, social enterprises plough any extra money, after costs, straight back into the community.
“The benefits can be amazing. For example; helping local homeless people in their neighbourhood, employing people with disabilities or assisting disadvantaged individuals develop new skills.
“Every social enterprise has a bottom line – their commercial income, which in turn enables them to make a real social impact and improve their environment.
“This is the first time the message of social enterprise has actively been driven out across the region and it is a very encouraging start.”
A Business link spokeswoman said the service would help social entrepreneurs learn how to create a competitive advantage through marketing, help with managing their finances, how to make a franchise out of a social enterprise and how to change from a conventional community organisation to effective trading.
* For information contact 0845 113 1234 or visit www.businesslinkwm.co.uk