Women & Enterprise — business growth school announced

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Women & Enterprise is launching its growth school – a 2-day workshop for women who are currently running businesses and would like to develop and grow their business.


 Send email to book.

iSE announces Social Saturday 2015

Social_Saturday___Latest_campaigns___Policy___campaigns___Social_Enterprise_UKSocial Saturday was inaugurated by SE UK last year and was hailed as a great success.

Birmingham marked the occasion with a street market in Digbeth, bringing together iSE, the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter, social enterprises from all over Birmingham — and supporters from Birmingham and beyond.

iSE has just announced that in conjunction with the DSEQ Social Saturday 2015 will take place on Saturday 10th October — so make sure that date is in your diary.

The aim of Social Saturday 2015 is to raise awareness of just how easy it is to support businesses that trade in quality items and services and reinvest profits for social good.

iSE is currently finalising the event. If you have brilliant ideas or can offer help or volunteers or anything else at all please speak to Marija Sakalauskaite on 0121 771 1411 or send her mail.

iSE also plans to relaunch the Shop for Change directory, so if you’re not in it and you want to be, contact Marija, as above.


Google Garage steps in to launch new business service at the Library of Birmingham

Google Digital Garage at the Library of Birmingham

Google Digital Garage at the Library of Birmingham

Online giant Google has taken over part of the first floor of the Library of Birmingham to set up its first Google Digital Garage — a new service targeting business owners and entrepreneurs looking for a free digital ‘tune up’.

If you think your business is in need of a digital MOT, head to the Library to for one-to-one mentoring sessions, masterclasses and a digital tune-up – all completely free of charge. One-hour seminar options include:

» Tell Your Story Online – show off the best of your business through the web, on computers and mobile devices.

» Reach New Customers Online – make your business more visible online so new customers can find you, including the cornerstones of digital marketing and how to use online marketing tools.

Seminars run from today through to the 12th Sept inclusive and you can book here.

More on the Google Garage website (where you can also book).

More on this story on the Digital Birmingham blog.

More news on this story here in the Birmingham Post.

National Housing Federation conference on social enterprise, work & wellbeing

This year’s National Housing Federation conference will be held in Birmingham at the ICC and on Thursday 24th September there is a special day-long conference and exhibition devoted to social enterprise, work and wellbeing.

Keynote speakers at the event include Peter Holbrook (SEUK) and Melanie Mills (Big Society Capital) with sessions throughout the day on various aspects of social enterprise and the role it can — and is — playing for housing associations that are seeking to create better opportunities for their tenants and service users.

There is a discounted rate for SEUK members (contact NHF’s Business Sales and Support team on 0207 067 1066 for more information — details here).

View the programme.


Access launches consultation on access to finance and design of new £60m capacity-building programme


Access: The Foundation for Social Investment is a new charitable foundation developed in partnership with the UK Cabinet Office, Big Society Capital and Big Lottery Fund.

Access’s purpose, it states, “is to be a champion for those charities and social enterprises that are at early stages of developing new ways of creating income to bring real change to more people’s lives. Access will help to provide these organisations with the finance and support they need, at the beginning of their development — when it is most valuable but often hardest to find.”

Access’s activities will be delivered through partners, administrators and fund managers: it will not deliver  programmes itself directly to the front line.

Access is currently developing two new programmes:

  • A Growth Fund which combines loan capital with grant money to enable smaller social sector organisations access the types of finance they need to develop.
  • And an innovative £60m, ten year capacity-building programme to help organisations develop the skills and resources they need to enable them to grow and thrive.


The organisation has just launched a consultation exercise about the design of this second programme, the Capacity-Building programme, and wants to hear your views.

You can participate in the consultation HERE or by Tweeting #accesscapacity.

The programme is being funded in part by receipts from the old  Futurebuilders Fund.

More in Third Sector Online.

September Social Enterprise Mentor networking event — Dudley


Cloudberry and Social Enterprise West Midlands, will be running the next Social Enterprise Mentor networking event in Dudley on 10th September.

Social Enterprise Mentor is the Midlands leading networking event for social enterprise providing social entrepreneurs and social enterprises a regular event to help them exchanging ideas, best practice and expertise. The monthly, informal ‘non sell’ networking event provides the sector with an opportunity to work closer together, develop partnerships and collaborate on large and small scale projects – it is a great way to build business relationships!

These networking events are open to all with an interest or an involvement in social enterprise – ideal for start ups, charities, entrepreneurs, enterprises, funders and supporters. The event is also a great way for people wanting to take their first steps towards social enterprise, such as, students, graduates, community projects or SMEs.

Dudley, West Midlands – Register Here (via Social Enterprise West Midlands)

Date: 10th September 2.00 to 4.00pm, with optional lunch starting at 1pm

Venue: DY1 Centre (formerly Stafford Street Day Centre), Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1RT

About our Host/Sponsor:

Our host is the DY1 Centre, an asset transfer building run by Dudley CVS and home to a range of organisations, including our sponsor for the event Cloudberry and PSIAMS.


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Social entrepreneurs and business leaders awarded visiting fellowships by Aston University

18 Alumni made Visiting Industrial Fellows: L-to-R: Kevin Davis, The Vine Trust; Adam Whitehouse, TMT First Limited; Gary Parkinson, W.E.T. Services Ltd; Richard Toy, Auctus Management Group; Guy McEvoy, Guykat Solutions Ltd; Jane Shepherd, Shepherd PR; Mike Brooman, Vanti; Alec Anderson, Koolmill Systems; Sarah Crawley, i-SE; Simon Wheeler, Canonbury Products Limited; Greg McDonald, Goodfish Limited; Ruth Devine, SJD Electrical; Jim Griffin, Automotive Insulations; Damini Sharma, OM Safety Solutions Ltd; Gareth Williams, Caplor Energy Ltd; Sean Nicholson, Sign Solutions; Will Shepherd, Cohesion Recruitment; Russell Fraser, Goodflo

18 Alumni made Visiting Industrial Fellows: L-to-R: Kevin Davis, The Vine Trust; Adam Whitehouse, TMT First Limited; Gary Parkinson, W.E.T. Services Ltd; Richard Toy, Auctus Management Group; Guy McEvoy, Guykat Solutions Ltd; Jane Shepherd, Shepherd PR; Mike Brooman, Vanti; Alec Anderson, Koolmill Systems; Sarah Crawley, i-SE; Simon Wheeler, Canonbury Products Limited; Greg McDonald, Goodfish Limited; Ruth Devine, SJD Electrical; Jim Griffin, Automotive Insulations; Damini Sharma, OM Safety Solutions Ltd; Gareth Williams, Caplor Energy Ltd; Sean Nicholson, Sign Solutions; Will Shepherd, Cohesion Recruitment; Russell Fraser, Goodflo

Eighteen alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme have been made Visiting Industrial Fellows by Aston University — including our own Sarah Crawley, chief exec of iSE.

The awards were made on the 3rd June 2015 by Professor Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and Programme Director of the Goldman Sachs programme and Professor George Feiger, Executive Dean, Aston Business School.

Visiting Industrial Fellowships are awarded in recognition of the contribution individuals have made to the university’s understanding, experience and awareness of business growth and entrepreneurship.

This is the second time that members of the 10,000 Small Businesses programme alumni have been recognised in this way and a total of thirty-one business owners now hold this title.

Other social entrepreneurs honoured in 2014 include Indi Deol of award-winning media company Aidem Digital CIC, Daniella Genas of events management company Aspire4u, Kevin Davis of community development trust The Vine Trust (Walsall), and Charles Rapson of the School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands.

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme, which is run by Aston University, is designed to unlock the growth and job creation potential of small businesses and social enterprises by providing access to a combination of education and support services. The programme is funded in the UK by Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

We congratulate Sarah and all the other social entrepreneur alumni of the Goldman Sachs programme who are adding to the reputation and recognition of the social enterprise sector in Birmingham and beyond.

Read the full story on iSE’s website.

Read more on the Aston University website.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses — here and here.


Cabinet Office announces Youth Social Action fund open for applications

Applications_open_for_Youth_Social_Action_Fund_-_News_stories_-_GOV_UKOrganisations working with young people can apply for funding through the Youth Social Action Fund.

Organisations working with young people in lower socio-economic areas in England can apply for funding through the new Youth Social Action Fund.

The Fund received £1 million from the Cabinet Office, as part of the government’s pledge to support Step Up To Serve’s #iwill campaign. The #iwill campaign aims to increase participation in youth social action (volunteering, fundraising and campaigning) by 50% by 2020.

The government is encouraging charities, community interest companies and social enterprises to apply.

Applications close at 5pm on Friday 28 August 2015.

Full details and press release.

Fund specifications and application form.


NatWest SE100 announces 2015 awards — over £30,000 will be won

Each year The NatWest SE100 Index recognises social enterprises listed in the Index that have demonstrated some of the best business practice within the sector.

In 2014 five social enterprises were awarded £32,500 in prize money – and this year there again five NatWest SE100 awards totalling £30,000. Entry is open until midday on the 24th August 2015.

There are awards in five categories — growth, impact, trailblazing newcomer, resilience, and the storyteller award.

To stand a chance of becoming an SE100 champion you must complete your SE100 profile by MIDDAY 24TH AUGUST.

Full details here.

Baldwins Accountants announces KickStart award for young entrepreneur start-ups


Baldwins Accountants has just announced that its new KickStart awards programme for new-start young entrepreneurs is now open.

The scheme covers the Midlands and Mid-Wales and is open to any new-start young entrepreneur residing in this area aged 18-25 years at the time of the final judging on 19th November and whose business is yet to trade or has started trading on or after 1st January 2015 — more here.

KickStart is an annual award designed to help some of the most aspiring and ambitious young people in the Midlands & Mid Wales take their first step into the world of business.

It offers financial support, mentoring and business advice. The idea is to take raw talent and fresh ideas and help nurture some of these fledgling businesses to success.

The award for each year’s winner will be a £10,000 grant and £10,000 worth of mentoring and accountancy advice, and the two runners up will be presented with £5,000 of mentoring and accountancy advice. The awards had its launch in 2013 and will run annually for 10 years, meaning Baldwins will be handing out a total of £300,000 to aspiring young entrepreneurs.

It is interesting to see an award scheme targeting not just youth enterprise but specifically new-starts rather than established, trading enterprises.

Applications close 31st August 2015.

School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is recruiting


This, just in from SSE Midlands…

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is seeking a Project Co-ordinator.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is part of a highly successful and highly regarded network of learning establishments supporting social entrepreneurs. You will join and support a team of dedicated people supporting inspiring social entrepreneurs who are changing the world for the better.

You will be the first point of contact many have with SSE Midlands and so you will need to be highly customer focussed, super organised, extremely efficient and very IT literate. You will provide the rest of the team with the administrative and project management support they need to be effective. The role will enable you to attend some of the sessions we run which we promise you will find inspiring and informative.

We are looking for the best person so flexible on location and working hours. It is 2 or 3 days per week with a salary of up to £25k per annum (pro rata) based on skills and experience.

Download the Job Description & Person Specification.

The deadline for applications is noon on Friday 21st August. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 9th September.

To apply, send your CV and a covering letter explaining why you think you are the best person for the job to Charles Rapson.

Ashley Community Housing is recruiting…


Ashley Community Housing is seeking to recruit a Business Development and Fundraising Manager to join its office in Birmingham.

The successful candidate will be working with an award-winning specialist housing and training provider. This is a very exciting opportunity for an individual to grow and develop an innovative young business.

The purpose of the job is to promote the aims and purposes of ACH in all areas of activity, to provide strategic leadership, and to take the business forward in the delivery of its strategic and fundraising aims.

Strategic planning for future development is key to this role as the Business Development and Fundraising Manager’s is responsible for developing a pipeline of new business for the company. This requires a thorough knowledge of the marketplace and of the company’s competitors.

The successful candidate will lead and motivate staff in the continuing development of a professional social enterprise that helps vulnerable people move towards independent living. An ability to help the company grow its services in new markets will also be important.

 Full details of how to apply and Job Specification.

Closing date: Friday 14th August 2015.

GBSLEP announces workshops for next round of ERDF calls


Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP has just announced that it is hosting information events on the government’s European Structural and Investment Funds Programmes 2014-20.

ESIF Workshops across the area are planned for:

ERDF Priority Axis 3 – Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs): Wednesday 29 July, 2:00 pm (prompt) – 4:00 pm, Chamberlain Room, Birmingham City Council House, B1 1BB

ERDF Priority Axis 1 – Strengthening research, technological development and innovation: Tuesday 11 August, 9:15 am (prompt) – 12:15 pm, Chamberlain Room, Birmingham City Council House, B1 1BB

ERDF Priority Axis 4 – Supporting the shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors and ERDF Priority Axis 6 – Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency: Tuesday 11 August, 12:45 pm (prompt) 3:30 pm, Chamberlain Room, Birmingham City Council House, B1 1BB

These workshops will cover the proposed ERDF calls expected to go live in August.

To register your interest in attending a workshop, please send mail to the ESIF team at Solihull MBC. More news on the GBSLEP website.

Women & Enterprise — what’s on July, August & September 2015

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Throughout the summer and into early autumn iSE and the Women & Enterprise programme have some exciting workshops for women who want to start or develop a social enterprise.

27 workshops and events, to be precise. They include:

  • Know Your Market
  • Spotlight! Running a Creative Business
  • North Birmingham Social Enterprise Network Meeting
  • Financing Your Social Enterprise
  • Consortium & Other Opportunities for Sustaining Health & Social Care Organisations
  • Writing Your Growth Plan
  • Branding and Marketing for Social Enterprises
  • Understanding Basic Finance
  • Starting Your Social Enterprise
  • Spotlight! Running a Healthcare Business


And much more.

Places are taken up very quickly so book a place as soon as you can! If you have any queries please email Marija at iSE.

Go to Eventbrite to see all events and book. Please note — events with yellow ‘Book Your Place’ buttons are for Birmingham- and Solihull-based women who want to start or grow a social enterprise or enterprise.

See all posts about the Women & Enterprise programme and the Women’s Enterprise Hub.

Share your memories, bring your old photos — Perry tea dance and project launch

Witton Lodge Community Association is holding a tea dance and launching its “Perry Common and Me” heritage project on the 30th July…

Talent Match Birmingham & Solihull mapping youth employment support initiatives

Talent Match Birmingham & Solihull (TMB&S), a £7.6m Big Lottery funded programme supporting long-term unemployed young adults into employment, has commissioned a team of researchers to map youth employment support programmes and initiatives that can add value to the project.

BVSC, the lead agent for the programme, is particularly interested in identifying programmes, partnerships and initiatives that may have a strategic relationship to the project.

Employment support includes enterprise and social enterprise start-up support for 18-24s.

Responding to the survey will help strengthen links with this important project, improve pathways and referrals, and help influence future delivery and service design in youth employment support. There are two ways to respond:

 If you are a strategic provider, download the document of key research questions/themes and respond to as many of the questions as you are able to. Email your completed questionnaire to David Lane at DiSE. (BVSC defines ‘strategic providers’ “local, regional or national projects working with the 18-24 year old NEET cohort in Birmingham and Solihull that have sufficient scale to enhance or be enhanced by the TM project.”)

Go to the more general online survey for providers. (The online survey can also be provided as a Word document if required — send mail to request this.)

Responses by 27th July 2015 would be appreciated.

The mapping is being undertaken by Development in Social Enterprise.  If you have any questions about the research please ring Maggie Hawker at BVSC on 0121 678 8886 or send her mail.

Wates Group calls on housing and construction sector to do more business with social enterprises


“Social enterprises are the cornerstone to local economic growth and regeneration. We believe that making them an integral part of our supply chain is a sure-fire way to inject capital directly into the economy and we urge our industry peers to join us in this effort.” – Stewart Reid, Business Director, Wates Living Space

Affordable housing contractor, Wates Living Space – part of the Wates Group – has made a renewed call for businesses to increase investment in social enterprises by doing more business with the sector. The company has already traded over £5m with social enterprises across the UK and has set itself a target of increasing this to £20m by 2020.

Stewart Reid, Business Director for Wates Living Space

Stewart Reid, Business Director for Wates Living Space

The company sees Birmingham as central to these efforts. “The city has one of the highest concentrations of social enterprises in the UK, employing approximately 14,600 people across the city,” says Wates Living Space business director, Stewart Reid. “More impressively, there are over 50 registered social enterprises in Digbeth alone, all working for the sole purpose of overcoming economic and social challenges. Our recent ‘Seeing is Believing’ event was a powerful forum to demonstrate their successes in action and to celebrate the strong growth of the city’s social enterprise sector.” Hosted jointly with iSE, the event gave attendees the opportunity to observe a variety of social enterprises in action.

The most recent social enterprise addition to Wates’ supply chain is Birmingham-based Argonaut Community Enterprises, which employs people with disabilities, sensory impairments and learning disabilities. Founded in 2010 by two deaf people committed to improving employment opportunities for those at greatest disadvantage in the labour market, Argonaut now offers a full range of domestic and commercial services including cleaning, laundry, gardening, repairs and maintenance and facilities management. Argonaut Community Enterprises was a SEWM Social Enterprise Awards winner 2013 and is also an UnLtd award winner.

“We’re very proud to say that this appointment is enabling Argonaut to increase sustainable employment opportunities for local people,” says Stewart Reid.

L-to-R: Gill Winstanley, Managing Director, and Mike Brickliffe, Operations Manager, Argonaut; Stewart Reid, Business Director, Wates Living Space

L-to-R: Gill Winstanley, Managing Director, and Mike Brickliffe, Operations Manager, Argonaut; Stewart Reid, Business Director, Wates Living Space

Further evidence of Wates’ commitment to the sector is its recent publication of ‘Communities Count: A practical guide to unlocking social value’, a new social value toolkit that aims to equip housing professionals with a means to embed social value within their organisations and at the heart of their communities.

This kind of constructive, proactive relationship with the private sector doesn’t happen overnight. Huge efforts have gone into fostering this particular relationship with Wates – and a lot of this is down to iSE. We look forward to seeing more companies recognising the importance of social enterprise in their supply chain development and the key role the sector plays in the Birmingham economy.

If you’re a social enterprise providing services that could be of interest to Wates Living Space or the Wates Group send mail to Wates’ community investment advisor, Liam Manton.

Watch Gill Winstanley discussing being part of a private sector supply chain here.

More about the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter here and here. Profile of social enterprises in the DSEQ here.

More about social enterprise on the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership website.




BLF announces ‘Help Through Crisis’ fund of £30m

Document1_pdf__1_page_The Big Lottery Fund has just announced a new ‘Help Through Crisis‘ programme worth £30m aimed at “projects that draw on the strengths and personal experiences of people facing hardship so that they can overcome immediate difficulties and be ready for opportunities and challenges ahead.”

“We are looking,” the funder says, “for projects that provide tailored support, advice and advocacy to enable people to address difficulties and be in a better position to improve circumstances and plan for their future.”

BLF will only fund projects that meet all four of the following outcomes:

  • People who have experienced hardship crisis are better able to improve their circumstances.
  • People who are at high risk of experiencing hardship crisis are better able to plan for the future.
  • Organisations are better able to support people to effectively tackle hardship through sharing learning and evidence.
  • Those experiencing, or who are at high risk of experiencing, hardship crisis, have a stronger, more collective, voice, to better shape a response to their issues.


Grants are expected to be between £300,000 and £500,000 and the deadline for applications is 12:00 on the 26th August 2015.

More on the BLF website.

More on Third Sector Online.

Women’s Enterprise Hub Sparkbrook to open soon

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Further to this post, the Women’s Enterprise Hub Sparkbrook will open soon, offering 3,260 sq ft of newly refurbished office space for women only.

Located in a self-contained part of the Southside Business Centre in Ladypool Road, the Hub has 10 small business units that will accommodate 2-5 people, two ‘hot desk’ areas, a large training room and a meeting room that will accommodate 16 or more people, as well as three ‘showcase’ units which include display space.

Five of the units have glass ‘shop window’ frontages that can be accessed from the street. The Hub will provide not only space, but also the opportunity for networking, peer support and access to business support, with the aim of giving women the boost in confidence they need to succeed in business to the same level as men.

Now is the time to express an interest and get your name down for one of the units or take out a membership to give you access to the hot desk space. The premises have been designed to a high contemporary spec and are suitable for use by existing businesses as well as start ups.

To register or find out more call 0121 663 1711, send mail,  or go to the website

The Women & Enterprise programme offers free business support to Birmingham-based women who want to start their own businesses.

You can find out about forthcoming events here.

Women's Enterprise Hub, Sparkbrook: exterior Illustration

Women’s Enterprise Hub, Sparkbrook: exterior Illustration

Out of this world with The People’s Orchestra

Join The People’s Orchestra at West Bromwich Town Hall on Sunday 18th October for “Out of This World”, a captivating evening of Sci-Fi themed musical entertainment.

Kicking off at 7pm, “Out of This World” will showcase a stunning variety of themes from everyone’s favourite Sci-Fi and Fantasy films. ET, Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Harry Potter, and How to Train your Dragon will all feature on the line-up. Tickets are only £5-£10.

Click to go to tickets & information

The People’s Orchestra will also be presenting the first ever performance of “Beyond the Skies”, an original score written exclusively for The People’s Orchestra by award winning composer John Koutselinis, who has previously created music for film directors such as Michael Redwood (Katherine of Alexandria), Danny Wilson (Nephilim), Mel Smith (Director: High Heels and Low Lifes, Radioland Murders-Story by George Lucas), Richard Bazley (Disney, Warner Bros) and Gary Kurtz (Producer: Star Wars IV& V).

You can watch The People’s Orchestra performing John Koutselinis’s “Flight of the Pegasus” at Trinity Mirror Pride of Birmingham Awards last year here.

The concert is on 18th October 2015 and will start at 19:00.