100s of guests and over 50 exhibitors celebrate recognition of Birmingham as a social enterprise city

UPDATED 14th June 2018: More coverage of this event and Birmingham’s Social Enterprise ~City achievement HERE.

Today, the final day of City Drive 2018, also marked Birmingham’s successful bid to be recognised as a Social Enterprise City and it saw the city’s social enterprise sector take over the Council House banqueting suite for the first ever social enterprise festival to be held there.

As Sarah Crawley explained in her speech, this wasn’t of course quite the first ever social enterprise festival to be held in Birmingham. That took place on a freezing day in December 2013 when the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter held its first Christmas Market.

That was a valiant effort — but it was dramatically overtaken by today’s event. I have been to a lot of things at the Banqueting Suite over the years, but I have never seen it so enthusiastically full. What a way to mark City Drive week and at the same time celebrate Brum’s official recognition as a social enterprise city.

The event was sponsored by Wates, which has long been committed to increasing the number of social enterprises in its supply-chain. The company is now on track to meet its pledge of spending £20m with social enterprises by 2020.

In addition to Sarah Crawley, speakers included Cllr Tony Kennedy, Birmingham City Council, Lisa Cunningham, Wates, Karl Belizaire, SEUK, and Tobias Gould, Changes UK. 

City Drive, now in its fifth year, has always been a labour of love but this year I think it can safely be said that never has so much been achieved with so little in the way of resources. City Drive is always a team effort, of course, and wouldn’t happen without iSE’s efforts and the many social enterprises and sector supporters that rally to the cause, but even allowing for that today was very special. To see every available space in the vast area of the Banqueting Suite occupied by social enterprises was something I won’t forget.

Congratulations to everyone who made this year’s City Drive and today’s Social Enterprise Festival something to really remember.

Exhibitors included:

Argonaut Community Enterprises; ART Business Loans; ashebo CIC; Aston Business School; The Balance Collective; Beanstalk; Better Pathways; YMCA Birmingham; Boatel UK; BVSCChange Kitchen; Changes UK; Citizen Coaching; Citizen Click; Clarity — The Soap Company; Co-operatives West Midlands; Co-Wheels Birmingham; Craftspace/Shelanu; Creative Alliance; Climate Action Network WM; Co-operative Futures; Devenish Girl; Feed My Creative; Forward Carers; Gear Up; Glue Collective; Handsworth Association of Schools; Health Exchange; iSE; Impact Football Club; Jericho Foundation; Kitchen School; Leaf Creative Arts; Legacy WM; Living-Well Consortium; Muath Trust; My Hope Housing CIC; Newman University; Our Roots CIC; Project Aspie; Resonance; Midlands School for Social Entrepreneurs; Sociability Care; The Arches Project; Unity Trust Bank; Upcycle Birmingham; Vegan Vybes; Wates; Welcome Change; Golden Sparkle; Unity Streets; Audrey Jackson [new start]; Shamala Aantonio [new start].

Photos courtesy iSE / © Ian Cuthbert / cuthbertdesign.com

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Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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