Social entrepreneurs and USE IT — catalysing social change in Birmingham

For the past 12 months iSE has been working on an innovative new project, USE IT! (Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together).

ISE’s role in this three-year project, funded by ERDF as part of the UIA programme, is to work in Ladywood, Handsworth and Smethwick to grow the social enterprise sector, linking local organisations to new markets, linking them to new building initiatives, tourism opportunities and the chance to supply local residents (food, health, creative etc).

Support is delivered through a range of activities including one-to-one support, events, markets, workshops, mentoring and our enterprise skills development programmes.

iSE’s focus has been to work at a very grassroots level, with local individuals and groups, who are looking to change the communities in which they live. The partners iSE is working with have been great at supporting and introducing people to the new Soho Social Enterprise Network (started April 2017) which runs bi-monthly with an expert speaker at each event. Everyone with an interest in social enterprise is welcome to attend these network meetings.

Throughout 2017, in the first 12 months of delivery alone the following have been achieved:

  • 8 new SE start-ups.
  • 3 grants to local social enterprises through our Enterprise Challenge Fund.
  • 3 local markets selling social enterprise products and services.
  • A programme of workshops and support around social value and how to describe the work of social enterprises.
  • A crowd funding workshop.
  • A new consortia development to support access to new business opportunities.


Read the full story about the first twelve months of the USE IT programme.

More about the Soho Social Enterprise Network.

USE IT marketplace event (photo: Janet Gray, Feed My Creative)

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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