Ecosystem for change (part 1)

In this blog I talk about the amazing social entrepreneurs and ethical business owners I’ve connected with over the first 5 months of running my business. I identify common themes and ideas for the others I’d still like to meet….


What an amazing few months I’ve had whilst going full time at Share Impact. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to speak with so many wonderful social entrepreneurs all over the world whether for my blog, on Facebook, as clients or in training. And the vast majority have all been female.

(Why is this significant, that they’re all female? Well it isn’t really and it shouldn’t be. But in all walks of life women are under-represented and so when I started my podcast back in January 2017 I wanted to showcase women’s stories and give them a platform. Just this week I read that in the UK social enterprises were significantly more likely than SMEs overall to be led by women or a member of minority ethnic group).

I’ve split this blog in to three parts. The first (this one) focuses on some of the women I’ve had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ with as clients or members of my Facebook Group. I thought in sharing these connections I can play my small part in growing their audience (so do check out their websites if they’re of interest to you).

The second blog introduces a variety of entrepreneurs who are focussing on fashion and fabrics, transforming the way we produce and supply these everyday items. I decided to do a blog specifically on this as in the past couple of months I’ve seen a significant growth in these eco-businesses or maybe I’ve just suddenly become aware of them…either way they’re too important not to share.

The third focuses on those wonderful people who support the “changemaker” sector who I’ve been building a powerful network with over past 6+ months. They provide a wide variety of services’ and I thought you might find it useful to see who else is out there and able to give you support.

(I’m conscious that I haven’t been able to include all the incredible entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed for my podcast over the past 12 months, so may even squeeze in a fourth blog to this series. Although you can listen to all my past podcasts here on the website or via iTunes – simply search for Share Impact).


 
Ecosystem for Change
 

So maybe not so surprisingly, it all started with Solutions for the Planet (S4TP) - the organisation which launched me (and my best friend Jen) as a social entrepreneur. When I went full-time, Jen asked me to help her develop and design her Impact Report for their 2016-17 S4TP programme. They were at capacity and this was something I had led on when I worked at S4TP previously. I was thrilled to do this and got to work immediately and I was so grateful to Jen for helping me kick start my own venture. (You can take a look at the report here).

In that first month I also connected with others. The inspiring Debbie Turnbull who out of adversity set up River and Sea Sense ten years ago to educate children and young people about the dangers of swimming in open waters. There are over 400 accidental drownings in the UK each year and Debbie is committed that young people are much more knowledgeable about the dangers of open water. I met Debbie at the time she’d just been awarded for speaking to over 200,000 young people through her school-based workshops - an incredible achievement that duly deserved recognition.

This led me to working with SwimTayka an ambitious organisation combining both drowning prevention with water stewardship across the worlds waterways. Swim Tayka provides free swimming lessons and environmental education for clean water stewardship to underprivileged children who live along the world lakes, rivers, oceans. They are always looking for swim instructors and educators to volunteer on their programmes in places such as Peru, Brazil and Vietnam.

I supported Autistic UK whilst they explored changing their governance structure. It was fascinating learning about their diverse structure of support and action groups across the UK for people with Autism.

In December I ran my Harness the power of your social impact to attract income Training, which included: Sandra from Mingle Enterprises; Jo from Empower; Alison from Caia Park Partnership and Jane & Vicky from Art & Soul Tribe as well as others. (You can hear Jo and Alison’s podcast interviews with me here). It was fascinating to hear Sandra, Jo and Alison different perspectives on solutions to helping people find employment in each of their communities. Each one unique and powerful.

At the end of last year I also had the pleasure of working with Veronique from The Cleaning Group LLC a new start-up cooperative bringing women migrants in Michigan, USA, together to own and run their own cleaning company. It was fantastic to work with Veronique on developing her brand and preparing her pitch to an incubation hub as she got started on her journey.

Continuing with this theme of supporting migrant communities to feel safe, economically empowered and ‘at home’, I helped Filipa and her team at United Kitchens apply for grants to expand their gastronomic project in London. If you’re in London or visiting you need to check them out it’s developing rapidly but the best way I can describe it is AirBnB for food lovers who want immersive learning experiences with communities in London.

More recently I’ve connected with Layhing at Armando Aid and Kate McAllister at Crisis Classroom who are trailblazing ahead to ensure children and adults in refugee camps have access to education. Watch out for Kate on my podcast, coming soon!

Benedita, inspired by Syrian women’s stories in Portugal, set up Amal Soap to maintain this part of their heritage and create work for Syrian women in Portugal.

I’ve reconnected with old colleagues and friends such as Rupy Kaur who is one of the most inspirational people I know when it comes to campaigning for the rights and well-being of disabled people. Her new social enterprise You Own It is definitely one to keep an eye on. Plus I re-connected with colleagues from my ‘interfaith days’ – Debbie Dannon and Yasmeen Akhtar – who have joined forces to create TrustLab a inspiring consultancy with a focus on inclusive leadership.

Most recently I’m working with Susanna Kelly, the Founder of Hope & Story. Susanna is committed to two things: increasing employment rates for people with disabilities and providing free meals to children who’s families are struggling. Her innovative idea enables businesses to donate a small proportion of their profit to Hope + Story when a customer buys their product or service (through the Buy One, Feed One campaign to provide a million free meals) or join her online marketplace. If you have a fashion or lifestyle brand you need to connect with Susanna and get involved in the initiative. 

Previous to this I had also connected with: Julia Lynch whilst she was seeking funding for Global Girl Project; Shaniqua Begum of Young People Insight who encourages young people in Croydon, London to share their voice and perspective of the world in written word, poetry, rap or song; and Sophie Kanza of the Sophie Kanza Foundation, creating a culture of good deeds amongst young people in South Africa and the DRC.

It is a daily inspiration to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful women creating change and these are just a few. 

If you’re the founder of a social enterprise or ethical business I’d love to connect with you too, email me here.