Opportunities for charities and community groups in south Bristol

This week’s guest blog is by Oscar Dayus from the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), which is running free courses on how to start and run your own social enterprise in south Bristol.

The past year has been so hard for so many, whether we’ve lost loved ones, freedoms, or jobs. Whatever the next year brings us, it will be impossible, impractical, and implausible to go back to the way things were before the pandemic. And one of the ways we can build back better is through charities, community groups, and doing good through business.

A social enterprise is any business with a primary aim of bringing about social or environmental change for good, such as zoos, community gardens and kitchens, meals on wheels services, sports clubs, and much, much more.

At the SSE we firmly believe this is the moment for social enterprises to rebuild our society. Together we can create jobs and get the wheels of the economy moving while also reducing inequality, bringing us back together after so long being forced apart.

In Bristol, the SSE is running free courses for existing social enterprises as well as people just thinking of starting up. If you’ve got an idea for a charity, community group, or similar, our Strong Foundations course will give you the tools and know-how you need to get your idea off the ground. Over four group sessions, we can help you with:

  • Setting your business moral compass
  • Creating your service/product and making it attractive to customers
  • Business planning
  • The market – market research, marketing, social media, and communicating effectively with stakeholders
  • Your business form – covering the legalities, policies and more

For established businesses wanting to take the next step, meanwhile, we’re running another course, Next Steps to Success, which will help you to stand on your own two feet and thrive for ever more, helping your community in the process. This course includes workshops on:

  • Examining and refining your mission and purpose
  • Understanding and optimising your finances
  • Picking the best pricing – and minimising your costs
  • How to measure your impact and market your business
  • You will also benefit from an expert Business Review Panel tailored to your organisation.

So whether you’ve always had an idea for a business that would give something back or if you’re already running something like it, we can help you to help others. If you’ve just lost your job or you fancy a change, now’s the time to make the jump. And remember, both courses are designed specifically for south Bristolians and are totally free, so there’s nothing to stop you!

You can find out more about the courses, which are currently being run over Zoom due to the pandemic, on our website. The next Strong Foundations course will run in February 2021, while the next Next Steps to Success course is happening in April and May 2021. And if you’re not sure which is right for you, or you just fancy a chat about social enterprise in general, don’t hesitate to contact my insightful and delightful colleague Susan Moores on susan.moores@dartington.org.

We’re grateful to Bristol City Council for its support, as well as to the West of England Combined Authority, the UK Government, and the EU’s European Regional Development Fund for their funding for this project.