There are more than 68,000 social enterprises operating in the UK today. So what has Enabling Enterprise done to be shortlisted as Lloyds Bank Social Enterprise of the Year? Reflections from Sinead Mattock:

Humble Beginnings

For those who’ve not come across us before, Enabling Enterprise was set up in 2009 by a team of teachers who worried that their students weren’t developing the wider experiences of the world and employability skills to be successful.
We had a humble beginning – designing a year-long course aimed at 14-16 year-old students. Over the year, students visited a couple of businesses – investment bank UBS and Freshfields law firm and met the volunteers who worked there. This was complemented by students then applying these lessons to setting up and running their own small businesses during lesson-time.

In that first year, around 600 students took part in the programme – and the results were promising – great engagement for the students and rewarding for the teachers too.

Getting serious about impact

And then we realised that to be serious about getting all students ready for real life we would have to start younger, and we would have to be bigger and more ambitious. So we now work with students from the age of six until they leave school at nineteen.

This hasn’t been easy – over the last four years, our growing team of experienced teachers has designed and run projects and challenge days in 150 schools, and organised student trips to thirty different businesses partners. These have ranged from advertising agencies like OMD to professional service firms like PWC to property developers like Argent.

But we were always clear we wanted to have a transformational impact on the students we worked with: So last year we thought seriously about what preparing students for real life really meant. As a result, we focus all of our projects, challenge days and trips on developing 8 core enterprise skills; working in a team, leading, presenting, listening, aiming high, being creative, solving problems and staying positive. And rather than just giving ourselves a pat on the back, we rigorously “level” the students, in collaboration with their teachers, so we can track quantifiable progress over the year. This means we can see where our programmes are most powerful.

Building Momentum

Over the last four years Enabling Enterprise has grown from working with those 600 students to working with over 30,000 children and young people this year.

And what is particularly exciting is that growing numbers has gone hand-in-hand with closer working and a deeper level of impact: For example, Curwen Primary School in Newham now dedicates an hour every week to their Enabling Enterprise lessons for every child in the school. Each class is running a termly project, from a fundraising fair for a chosen charity, to organising the school sports’ day or setting up a school magazine. The school has chosen to have a whole-school approach to enterprise the school has seen great improvement in students’ confidence in the eight key enterprise skills. Alison Helm, Deputy Head, has observed the positive impact it has had across the curriculum: “Teachers have been taking these skills from work they have done in EE and use them in other subjects, such as Science. The students recognise the skills – which is great.”

Awarding

However, whilst we’re excited by the progress so far, the 30,000 students we’re working with this year pales against a backdrop where 20% of young people are unemployed and the majority of students still do not receive a satisfactory level of careers and enterprise education.

So this award would help us in two ways: Firstly, it would help validate the work that we’ve done so far – and help us continue to build the momentum behind our work. Secondly, the £10,000 prize will help us to establish Enabling Enterprise’s second office, building on our work in Birmingham and the West Midlands, and potentially reaching an additional 5,000 students over the next two years.

It’s not about being the “best” social enterprise – such labels are meaningless. But it would make a huge extra difference for Enabling Enterprise, and we hope you can support us.

Please vote for us. It only takes one minute, and will give us the chance to keep expanding our work and have an impact on more children. To vote go to www.enablingenterprise.org/vote.

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About Enabling Enterprise: … Our Mission Enabling Enterprise is an award-winning not-for-profit social enterprise, set up...

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