Local business is set to benefit from Bournemouth University expertise through the setting up of a new group.
The launch of the BU Social Entrepreneurs Forum recently took place at Bournemouth University (BU). The new group, initiated by BU, the Association of Sustainability Practitioners and Poole Bay Rotary and supported by Barclays Bank, will support and promote social enterprises.
Social enterprises suffer from a lack of awareness and support but this new Forum aims to change that by bringing together local businesses, potential funders, specialist advisers, BU staff, students and researchers to share knowledge. The Forum will run monthly sessions to support the needs of the local social enterprise community.
BU academic and Forum organiser, Dr Sukanya Ayatakshi Endow explained the motivation behind launching the BU Social Entrepreneurs Forum: “We observed that due to lack of support services and opportunities to share knowledge, social enterprises are struggling.
“BU is a treasure trove of skills and resources. So we decided to set up a Forum where we offer opportunities for knowledge transfer between academia and the aspiring and existing SEs; provide skills-based support sessions around funding, legal structures, business mentoring and many more and support the growth of local and regional SEs.
“Universities are hotbeds of innovation and expertise in numerous areas. The idea of having the Forum at the university is to build a bridge between academia and the business community.”
A social enterprise (SE) is very similar to a small media enterprise (SME) in that its income comes from trading in business to business and business to consumer markets. In a social enterprise, the profit is reinvested that into the business or the community to further the social goal that is at the core of the business.
There is an increasing awareness that the decisions made in business leave a footprint on the world – both socially and environmentally. That may be why being a social enterprise start-up is now the norm with three times as many SE start-ups compared to SMEs.
Sukanya continued: “In Dorset there is a large number of SEs but there is limited awareness of how SEs can gain competitive advantage and become growth businesses. Some SMEs have a charitable contribution but becoming a legally recognised SE can make them more sustainable and enhance their market reputation too. We believe this Forum will consolidate the support network and build a thriving SE business community in Dorset.
“The university’s strategic plan, BU2025, is underpinned by our commitment to the UN Sustainability Development Goals 2018. By supporting the creation, growth and sustainability of aspiring and existing SEs it will also further the BU2025 agenda.
Our graduates and students can also have access to live projects and work opportunities through the Forum which will enrich their learning.”
The next session of the BU Social Entrepreneurs Forum will take place in early September. To find out more about the Forum and get involved, contact Sukanya by email on: [email protected]