Social Enterprise Spotlight – Latest Q&A Interviews With Social Enterprise Members

Posted: 18 November 2014, in Press Release

In the spotlight for two weeks (20 Oct – 2 Nov) is Claire Carpenter and The Melting Pot – a social enterprise based in Edinburgh that provides resources, learning, spaces and services to support social innovation. Get in touch with Claire on 0131 243 2626 / claire@themeltingpotedinburgh.org.uk and check out: www.themeltingpotedinburgh.org.uk

Each fortnight we focus on a randomly selected social enterprise member for intense marketing support and promotion. The Melting Pot will feature in all e-bulletins, on our website homepage and on all our social media, alongside other support, reaching thousands of people across Scotland and beyond.
 
What’s your social and/or environmental mission? The Melting Pot’s Mission is to stimulate and support social innovation. We’re interested in supporting and living in a society which has a vibrant, creative, resilient and effective social innovation community – so that the challenges and opportunities of our times can be realised.

How do you do it? We inspire, stimulate and support people and organisations that are making social change. We provide them with a range of affordable and practical ways to work, meet, learn, connect and raise their profile. We’re the pioneers of coworking in Scotland, and provide excellent meeting and events services. We also run a specialist 12-month incubation programme for new-start social entrepreneurs.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? As a person, I ‘fit’ here. My community development background, social change orientated values and aspirations, and practical can-do nature combine with a tendency to demonstrate leadership, take responsibility and think very creativity. I don’t think I’d be good at being anything else.

What are your current projects? We’ve just celebrated our 7th birthday with a big community bash (Video & Pictures). We’ve physically ‘tarted’ ourselves up (literally a bit of building and design make-up) that can be seen around the place. We’re enjoying the maturing of our Social Innovation Incubation Award programme (now in its 3rd year) and the 10 new ‘Awardees’. Finally, we’re working with the Scottish Government to help shape their innovation policies after a consultation project this year learning how social innovation can best flourish in Scotland.

What exciting things do you have coming up? We’re thinking big – but that comes with challenges. We have to keep the standard stuff happening. We’re delivering another ‘Social Entrepreneur’s Chat Show’ during Global Entrepreneurship Week on 19th Nov. We’re also moving onto a new operational platform which includes the creation of a new ‘reception app’ that all coworking spaces can use.

Who do you want to work with more? Amazing people who do great things to make the world a better place. No matter what age or stage of development – start up, scale, up, established – we want to work with those bright passionate sparks who’re delivering social innovation.

What’s your biggest challenge? Developing the ‘big big plans’ while maintaining our daily operations. They pay the wages – but there’s no room in our budget for RnD activity. Funders do not invest in the RnD that innovation requires. Our business model gives our clients extreme flexibility in terms of commitment to us. We have a solid client base – but it’s always changing as circumstances of our market place are always evolving.

What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Have blind yet considered optimism! Jumping from failure to failure with undetermined enthusiasm is the key to success. It all takes time – a long time. We are the innovators in this food-chain. We are pioneers who need to explore and bring back treasures. Have fun hunting for these treasures as the journey and planning it is part of the process, and treasure is not guaranteed.

 

In the spotlight for two weeks (3 Nov – 16 Nov) is Jonny Kinross and MY Adventure – a social enterprise based in Edinburgh that works in youthwork, cycling & adventure activity. Get in touch with Jonny on 0131 332 7132 / jonny@myadventure.org.uk and check out www.myadventure.org.uk

Each fortnight we focus on a randomly selected social enterprise member for intense marketing support and promotion. MY Adventure will feature in all e-bulletins, on our website homepage and on all our social media, alongside other support, reaching thousands of people across Scotland and beyond.
 
What’s your social and/or environmental mission? We tap into the all too often wasted talent of young people. We target those furthest from the labour market and engage them in enterprising activity. We provide the opportunities and resources young people need to deliver excellent customer experiences and become confident, active and economically prosperous individuals.

How do you do it? We recruit 15 to 25 year olds, often referred to us via our parent charity Muirhouse Youth Development Group, local schools or employability programmes. We train and support them ‘on the job’ to deliver adventure sports and cycling activities to our customers. These customers range from schools to the Armed Services, from charities to multinationals. The wider range our customer base the better experience for our trainees.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? I’m driven by knowing that what I do makes a real and lasting difference. I love creating new opportunities for people to shine and not just dream but actually work towards a better life. By offering high quality experiences for my customers, I’m determined as well to demonstrate that all business can and should be delivered in this way.

What are your current projects? MY Academy – our trainee programme, is now in its second year thanks to the Young Start, Big Lottery fund. It’s the opportunity for 12 young people to experience a programme of training opportunities with industry recognised accreditation. This, along with our community bike track (Edinburgh’s largest!) which has successfully galvanised over 400 volunteers this year from larger corporations.

What exciting things do you have coming up? We have just acquired long term stewardship of Towford Outdoor Centre and following our (and my first) crowdfunding campaign, we are about to start the renovation work. This will be both an income generator as customers hire it out and will represent another fantastic training opportunity for our young people, as they will be able to learn skills like catering and landscaping (in our 17 acres of land).

Who do you want to work with more? We are very keen to strengthen our links to the corporate sector. We want decision makers and people that care about their businesses and particularly their staff, to appreciate the huge difference we can make. A day or half day activity, even an hour of facilitated games, can do wonderful things for how well people work together, staff retention, creating lasting positive memories and creating a feeling of being valued.

What’s your biggest challenge? We need to change the perception of us being ‘something you do in the summer only’. We’re a year round business with tonnes of goodies available in the winter; kid’s parties, indoor archery sessions and much more. Our problem is we require a specific skill-set from our team; the ability to work with young people and deliver to customers. I am determined not to let highly skilled staff go, which is traditionally the way the outdoor industry responds to seasonality.

What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Get the right people on board at all levels – your board, your staff team, your investors and your networks should be full of the kinds of people that enable you to feel you can take risks but from a position of safety and support.