BSSEC Annual Reports

First Annual Report

Publication date: August 2013

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2012 – 31st March 2013.

As we incorporated as a CIC in early 2012, this year we have published our very first annual report. You can read about the highlights of our work during the year ending 31st March 2013, our priorities for the future and why we believe that championing the strategic development of the social enterprise sector is perhaps more important than it has ever been.

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Second Annual Report

Publication date: September 2014

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2013 – 31st March 2014.

The trading and social policy climate for social enterprises continues to be exceptionally difficult and as in preceding years we have made great efforts to focus our efforts on strategic activity that can help create a more favourable environment for social enterprises. We would like to give you some examples of how we have done this.

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Third Annual Report

Publication date: October 2015

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2014 – 31st March 2015.

The trading environment for social enterprises continues to be demanding but the sector is holding up well. We have not seen the widespread closures some feared and we are also seeing social enterprises and social enterprise leaders increasingly at the forefront of other mainstream programmes, initiatives and awards — in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme, the NatWest SE100 awards, Nursing Times awards and the Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year wards, to name just some. This annual report also covers our continuing work to support social value.

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Fourth Annual Report

Publication date: September 2016

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016.

The trading climate for social enterprises as for all businesses continues to be extremely challenging, but this year has also seen a further significant decline in the availability of funded business support. BSSEC members are working hard to try and ensure that formal business support is augmented with lower-cost options such as networking and peer support as a means of sharing the sector’s rich skills and expertise and capitalising on its strong commitment to mutual aid.

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Fifth Annual Report

Publication date: October 2017

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017.

It continues to be very difficult for new start social enterprises to access free specialist business support and partly as a consequence of this, we are continuing to see small-scale, grassroots ‘DIY’ start-ups in increasing numbers. Availability of the relatively cheap to use Community Interest Company legal structure is also encouraging this. While this new spirit of independence is to be welcomed, many of these grassroots start-ups are very small indeed and for some survival will be uncertain, as will the ability to build a sufficient customer-base, especially in the early years. There also continues to be a growing appetite in the sector for more informal, peer-to-peer approaches to support, as evidenced by the growing local networks, such as the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter and the North Birmingham Social Enterprise Network.

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Sixth Annual Report

Publication date: August 2018

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2018.

The annual celebration of social enterprise in Birmingham, City Drive, has gone from strength to strength, thanks largely to iSE’s efforts and the time and energy its many participating social enterprises and supporters put into the week-long series of events. We have continued to support and promote City Drive and during late-2017/early-2018 were also successful in securing a second Awards for All grant which we have been using to help promote the work of newer, younger social enterprises. We have also continued our work on social value, for which we gratefully acknowledge the financial support of The Barrow Cadbury Trust. Membership has increased from eighteen to nineteen with the addition of recovery charity Changes UK, which is making considerable use of user-led social enterprise formation in its programmes.

The wider operating climate continues to be extremely difficult for many social enterprises, as it does for businesses generally, but we continue to be impressed by the vigour and optimism we see in the sector. The appetite for social enterprise — for trying to do things differently, for trading with a social purpose — is not diminished in Birmingham and Solihull.

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Seventh Annual Report

Publication date: June 2019

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2018 – 31st March 2019.

The two most important items of news in the 2018/19 financial year have been good and bad. First the good. In April 2018 it was confirmed that Birmingham’s application to be recognised as a ‘social enterprise city’ under SEUK’s ‘social enterprise places’ scheme had been successful. This huge step forward, ushering in a new period of development for the sector in Birmingham, is largely down to the immense efforts of Sarah Crawley and her team at ISE. We have also seen significant progress in working with new partners and stakeholders — such as the West Midlands Combined Authority — to advance the cause of social enterprise.

And now the bad. On the 7th March 2019 our friend, colleague and co-Director Mark Ellerby collapsed and died suddenly. We and many others in the social enterprise sector miss him dreadfully and we wish to record here our lasting gratitude for his contribution to BSSEC and to the wider sector. Mark was an accomplished social entrepreneur, of course, but he was also a dear friend and it still doesn’t seem entirely believable that he has gone.

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Eighth Annual Report

Publication date: July 2020

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2019 – 31st March 2020.

For many, 2020 will for ever be associated with the coronavirus crisis, despite the fact that the full scale and implications of the pandemic only became evident as the financial year drew to a close.

But much of the year — had we only recognised it at the time — now seems a golden age of normality and we were able to make significant progress on a variety of fronts: influencing key policy-makers in favour of social enterprise, planning the next moves for Birmingham Social Enterprise City, publicising the news, events and services of Birmingham’s busy social enterprises, looking for new collaborations and partnerships that will help create opportunities for the sector and a positive environment for social enterprise.

But looking forward, it is clear that our emphasis for perhaps the foreseeable future will be on recovery planning and ensuring that social enterprise and the principles of trading for social purpose and social value are not forgotten in the rush to a ‘business as usual’ economic recovery.

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Ninth Annual Report

Publication date: July 2021

This Annual Report covers the period: 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021.

The Covid-19 pandemic was still unfolding when we published our previous Annual Report. Since then the full scale of the crisis has become evident – the social, economic and human cost it has exacted, the change and adaptation it has required, and the continuing transformation that will be necessary as part of the recovery.

The pandemic inevitably had an impact on how we worked during 2020/21 to create opportunities for social enterprise and social value — but it did not diminish the importance of this work. Indeed, quite the reverse: the social economy has always been vital to helping create inclusive economic growth and stronger and more diverse local economies. It must now be central in helping to ensure a just, inclusive and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Throughout the earlier stages of the pandemic we worked hard to ensure that wherever possible recovery planning was informed by a social economy perspective. We shall continue to do this confident that the sector will play the fullest role possible in both economic and community recovery.

Again, we gratefully acknowledge funding from The Barrow Cadbury Trust which for some years now has helped support BSSEC’s work. We especially want to record our appreciation of the Trust’s flexible and supportive approach. This has always been characteristic of the Trust but during the Covid-19 pandemic we found it especially helpful and especially reassuring.

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