How to grow a social enterprise while staying true to your principles
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...make your product better, make production more efficient or find better ways to distribute your product. Be enterprising, not just social!
Look to all sources of funding
Securing capital is often essential to scaling your business up and gaining greater efficiencies. As well as traditional sources of funding, such as bank lending or venture capital injections, there are pools of cash available specifically for social enterprises. For instance, just this month the Government has announced that the Social Enterprise Investment Fund is to reopen, with a further £19m available on top of the £100m already invested in health-orientated social...
In May RBS announced a new fund providing credit to social enterprises locked out of conventional funding opportunities, and there are an increasing number of other funds committed to lending to companies focused on social outcomes. But there are also, of course, options such as fund crowdsourcing, where social enterprises can amass donations and micro-investments from supporters via online platforms.
But there’s more to capital than cash
Clearly money is important for expansion. But so are other forms of capital — workers’ skills, knowledge and experience. One of the buzz phrases of the social enterprise movement at the moment is “blended capital”, which is the idea of looking to investors to inject not just money but providing funding, networks, people and capacity-building. Access to business skills — financial planning, strategic insight and marketing knowhow — and to contacts is something several new social enterprise incubators are offering, rather than simply money.
Beware reputation by association
In the early stages, a social enterprise will likely hold the levers of most the company’s operations. But as the business grows, and certain functions may be offloaded to other companies, you must take care to ensure that you aren’t tarnished by any elements of that company that run counter to... continued on page three >