Growing Social Enterprise in Greater Manchester

Date: 07/10/2019
Author: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Company: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and other anchor institutions to grow ‘enterprisingly social’ businesses in Greater Manchester, which trade with the primary aim of making a positive difference in our communities.

The businesses could be privately owned, cooperatives, charities, voluntary sector organisations, in fact almost any type of business which is wholly or partly committed to delivering social value. Together, these organisations have the potential to empower and transform the communities in which they operate.

In Greater Manchester there are thousands of these social enterprise organisations who are all doing great work in supporting their local communities, going above and beyond their everyday business operations. As consumers, we all have a choice to buy goods and services from social enterprises and consequently help contribute to making a real difference to our region.

What are we doing and why?

We recognise that Greater Manchester is already busy creating a supportive environment of social enterprise networks. Many of our social enterprises are creative and flexible in their approach finding ways of using business as a force for social and environmental good. However, some of our social enterprises need support in developing aspects of their businesses to better achieve their planned social purpose. The ‘market’ for social enterprise could also be further developed in Greater Manchester. The good news is that many of our organisations with a social purpose are already working together to increase their impact on both the region and beyond, but we believe that we can help them to do more.

Our Ambition:

As a group of anchor organisations, we are committed to supporting our social enterprises to help improve our localities, nationally and on a global basis. We want Greater Manchester to become recognised as a world leader in social enterprise. A region that is one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a social enterprise.

We will do this by working together to identify and stimulate social enterprise activity, help develop stronger enterprise networks and realise market opportunity. Ultimately, this will result in a sustainable sector that is pioneering in its approach and ensures social enterprise plays a central role in the economy of Greater Manchester.

Our support offer:

We want to help support the individual leaders who drive forward a social purpose in business, provide ‘space’ for social enterprise to emerge and thrive, as well as encouraging opportunities for collaboration and relationship building.

Specific examples of what we can offer include:

  • Creation of incubation space and support - such as Enterprise House in Bolton
  • Access to mainstream and specialist business support and advicethrough the Growth Company and others
  • Support with data, research and policyincluding access to GM’s business and economic intelligence capability
  • Support to collaborate - for example around shared ‘back office’ services such as HR, accountancy, etc.
  • Support with developing collaborative procurement – for example to cover utilities costs and move towards low carbon solutions.
  • Access to support for innovation – through collaborative working with our universities, for example.
  • Enterprise placements – work experience, secondments, student placements, etc. – in and out of social enterprise organisations.
  • Investment in start-up and development of social enterprise
  • Proactive work to support development of the social enterprise market - linked to future procurement requirements, for example

We would like to be part of the creation of a web of activity to maximise social, environmental and economic impact. This will include the collaboration of a number of organisations and services across Greater Manchester, each taking a role in a shared aim to double the market share for ‘social business’ in the Greater Manchester economy.

This ‘web’ will be delivered by a range of organisations all working collaboratively, and include activity around:

  • Policy, research and marketing
  • Networks, engagement and peer support
  • Business advice and support
  • Investing and securing external funds
  • Business brokerage
  • Incubation and innovation

Achieving success

We are also part of your ‘market’ – we buy products and commission services, and we would like to help maximise your opportunity to do business with us. We can also signpost and hold marketplace events, for example.

Our Local Industrial Strategy describes how ‘there are opportunities … to explore the productivity of social and cooperative forms of enterprise..’ It also describes as a priority how GM should ‘revitalise town centres and high streets by supporting creatives, digital entrepreneurs, and innovators to start or scale a business, social or cooperative enterprise’.

‘A significant proportion of Greater Manchester’s social enterprises work in the foundational economy sectors of health, community development, education and training, sport and leisure services. Greater Manchester will continue to create the optimum conditions for social enterprises to thrive and grow productive and valuable careers, products and services, including support and advice on development and innovation. The Business Growth Hub, itself a social enterprise, will provide a range of services from growth support, access to finance, specialist sector advice and leadership and workforce development, to cooperatives and social enterprises who are seeking growth’.

We would like to help you draw out social business ideas, for example around clean growth, ‘low productivity’ sectors such as care and hospitality, or transport, digital or the creative sectors.

And we would like to help you maximise opportunities for accessing investment funds, crowd funding, community share issues and philanthropy, through our partnerships and influence.

Working together, with a partnership of social enterprise leaders, we can really make a difference in Greater Manchester.

The organisations involved are:

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Manchester Growth Company

The Universities of Bolton, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford

The Greater Manchester Housing Partnership.