Social Entrepreneurs Network

The Social Entrepreneurs Network gathered once again Wednesday evening for a night focusing on raising finance for social enterprise.

IMG_5152The night began as you would expect with time for networking with local social entrepreneurs to make new connections and catch up on progress since September’s event. Sunderland based Afro Caribbean Place provided a selection of mouth-watering dishes for our guests including a particularly delicious peanut chicken dish we won’t soon forget.  The jollof rice went down a treat as business cards, advice and encouragement were exchanged.

IMG_5184Gill and Marj from Patchwork People Ltd and Labelled CIC followed by giving an insightful, humorous, and well received presentation telling their story transitioning from successful careers in schools, local authorities, and communities to the high street with the establishment of a social enterprise working with young people furthest from the job market.  The story of their social enterprise’s inception, growth, and ongoing success is truly inspiring.  Since 2011 they have tripled turnover, reduced grant dependency, gained national recognition for their social impact and their ability to attract investment has allowed them to expand in their work offering a range of guidance, support, information, training and advice.  They have won a number of national competitions including Big Venture Challenge.  They continue to serve individuals and organisations using a variety of coaching, consulting, and training methods, supporting others on a similarly successful path to social investment.

Their advice on raising finance was clear and concise.  Know what type of finance you need, how much and why.  Develop a clear picture of your growth plan that lays out what you are planning to do and how.  You need to be able to describe and if possible, demonstrate your social impact with engaging storytelling.

Following a question and answer period attendees broke into smaller groups to delve deeper into specific ways of raising finance: grants for growth or change, trading for income, loan or debt finance, and crowdfunding.  This exercise was as much about providing fact sheets and answers as it was about sharing experiences, challenges, and support.

Many attendees reported coming away from the event with a better understanding of social investment and raising finance.  They were also given resources to take away to further their understanding.

IMG_5183Many thanks to Gill and Marj from Patchwork People Ltd and Labelled CIC and Lucky from Afro Caribbean Place for the delicious spread!  Afro Caribbean Place is located in Sunderland, 31 Hylton Road, SR4 7AF and is offering a tasting session this Friday, 24th October from 12pm until 3pm.  Do Lucky and yourself a favour and pop in for some jerk chicken, rice, peas and more.

Next month the Social Entrepreneurs Network will meet Tuesday 25 November and will focus on “breaking through,” we hope to see you there.



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