Community-based social enterprises play a vital support role where public and private sector services are lacking, either through geographical or social isolation or because demand levels are not sufficient. However, adults in the community who are employed underfunded community-based employment programmes or volunteer, by happenstance, are actually leading existing and emerging social enterprises without formal recognition. Perhaps traditionally from a disadvantaged or poor formal education background, these people are at the coalface of the community, often with great ideas about what would be beneficial to the community and/or an idea for a social enterprise. However, many of the staff involved in social enterprises and indeed our community leaders in local development organisations could greatly benefit from enhanced knowledge, training and workshops on what a social enterprise is, the benefits and how they can become a community regeneration initiative in their local areas through such entities.
Needs Analysis: Community, adult learners and social entrepreneurs indicate they share a number of difficulties and challenges: the isolating feeling of going it alone, historically low levels of academic achievement and a lack of recognition of the importance of their social/community enterprise. Many may have negative experiences in learning in the past and/or come from disadvantaged backgrounds economically and/or have few formal qualifications.
Target participants of Catalyse are social entrepreneurs, future social entrepreneurs, social start-ups; adult learners, low skilled/qualified adults, community workers unemployed, early school leavers, disadvantaged minorities and migrants; Adult Education providers and those who deliver Community Services Programs (CSPs), community training, Comprehensive Schools, Community Schools, 4: Social community leaders, Not for Profit, Volunteer and Community Support organisations & 5: Local Support Organisations, local authorities, local development organisations, socio-economic actors, regional skills authorities, local government and wider stakeholders at local government level.
The objectives of CATALYSE are to provide social enterprises, their communities and adult education with the resources that will help them add to the social and economic fabric of their communities by way of social impact, to assist existing and future entrepreneurs to gain the skills they need to support community development and develop new and existing innovative solutions to address the entrenched social and environmental challenges they face and to scale and replicate and to build healthier, competitive more inclusive communities where everyone has access to opportunities such as education and jobs.
CATALYSE fulfils these objectives through a targeted programme of specialised and complementary activities:
- Increase awareness, understanding and commitment to social entrepreneurship by evidencing its contribution to social and economic development, through the production and dissemination of a Social Enterprise Guide with examples of best in class experts spanning across the private, non-profit, community and public sector social enterprises,
- Strengthen the capacity of community-serving organisations to teach social entrepreneurship through multilingual OER’s targeted at Adult Education Providers and
- maximise the number of adult learners by sharing the model via an online course and interactive platform.
The project realises that social enterprises and communities do not just need resources to solve their social challenges but need new ideas, be able to create their own ideas, then test, evaluate and develop them. This will drive their entrepreneurship and create new products, services and eradicate inefficiencies. The above resources will help them to increase their social impact, develop long term effective sustainable solutions.