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Community Enterprise

Mon 16th April

Many small charities are really social enterprises and would be better set up in that way.  That was one message from Nick Wilson, Senior Business and Development Manager of theCoventryand Warwickshire Development Agency (CDA) when he talked to a group of around twenty local people thinking of setting up “not for profit” groups at the Buzz Cafe inStratfordrecently.

In fact, “not for profit” is a misnomer according to Nick, who said that all organisations should aim to make a profit.  The difference between social enterprises and other small businesses is that no individuals benefit financially from their profits.  Their motivation is to make a difference to the community and any profits are ploughed back into improving the enterprise.


Community businesses (e.g. community shops and even pubs), community radio stations, Co-operatives, Community Centres and Credit Unions were just some of the examples Nick gave of successful social enterprises in the local area.  Charities could also set up a trading arm to operate commercially alongside the charity.

Weave Recycle and the Sahil Project are two examples of successful projects that have been and continue to be supported by CDA.  Weave Recycle is an educational and training organisation based in Leamington Spa, which uses recycled materials to promote a positive attitude towards recycling and to encourage new opportunities for communication and creativity.  The Sahil Project, based in Foleshill,Coventry, provides a range of activities, including yoga, complementary therapies and social activities, targeted at Asian women experiencing stress, isolation and depression.

The aim of the CDA is to provide advice, assistance and on-going support to groups setting up social enterprises and Nick emphasised the pitfalls to watch out for.  Typically, social enterprises were started by individuals who were passionate about their idea for improving their community, but issues like employment law and good practice all need attending to in order to avoid problems cropping up further down the line.


CDA, which publishes a useful guide to Social Enterprise, is not the only organisation providing support for this kind of activity.  The meeting was also supported by the Stratford Town Trust, whose Grant Manager, Anita Applebee was present at the meeting.  She said that the trust distributed well over a million pounds in grants every year.  The trust’s current priorities are Welfare and Wellbeing, Strengthening Communities andOpportunityfor Young People. 

For more information, contact CDA on info@cwda.co.uk or 024 7663 3911.  Stratford Town Trust can be contacted at admin@stratfordtowntrust.co.uk or 01789 207111.

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