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Business Helps One Million People To Grow Social Enterprises

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Sword lessons by Hans Splint via flickr

New scheme to ‘invest’ high-flying business people’s skill to aid social enterprises in increasing yields.

New data, published today by Social Business Trust (SBT), shows how an innovative approach to helping social enterprises grow, by partnering them with business people from top companies, has resulted in one million people in need across the UK getting help.

The milestone is announced today by SBT, a charity that has worked closely with seven world-class businesses, including global investment firm Permira, Credit Suisse and Thomson Reuters to support 20 carefully chosen social enterprises – selected from reviews of over 900 social enterprises – to scale-up.


The social enterprises work with some of the most disadvantaged people in society including children struggling in education, isolated elderly people and unemployed young people. With hands-on, in-depth support from business people more used to dealing with the cut and thrust of commercial companies, they have, on average more than doubled the number of people supported in the first two years of working with SBT. Collectively, they have now helped one million people whilst working with SBT since it launched six years ago by providing over 25,000 hours of corporate volunteers’ time.

SBT was set by businessman Sir Damon Buffini and serial social entrepreneur Adele Blakebrough MBE to see whether business professionals could use their skills in fields like strategy, finance and human resources to help outstanding social enterprises increase their impact significantly and sustainably.

Key success stories include:

· Social integration charity The Challenge, which with SBT’s support has grown from working with 500 young people to 49,000 annually in just seven years. Help provided includes strategy development, in-depth legal support and extensive operational assistance sourced from companies including consultants Bain & Company, law firm Clifford Chance and Permira. The Challenge CEO, Oliver Lee OBE, says they could not have achieved that without SBT’s support, to the value so far of £2,300,000.


· London Early Years Foundation, now the largest UK social enterprise nursery group growing from 23 to 38 nurseries whilst working with SBT. Support provided has spanned areas including strategy, legal advice, pay and reward, fee structures, financial modelling and more, from companies including British Gas and EY. Its CEO June O’Sullivan MBE says LEYF would have found it extremely difficult to grow to that extent without SBT.

· Shakespeare Schools Festival which, with SBT’s support is now giving 30,000 children every year, from primary, secondary and special schools the opportunity to perform Shakespeare excerpts in professional theatres across the UK. Participants, almost a quarter of whom are disadvantaged students, see a demonstrable increase in their confidence and literacy. CEO Ruth Brock says she sees SBT’s involvement as ‘absolutely pivotal’.

Adele Blakebrough, SBT’s CEO said:

“By bringing people from these different worlds together, we can help excellent social enterprise grow from small scale, local operations to major players with scope to tackle the massive social problems we face as a nation.”

“What makes SBT different is the quality of engagement. We aim to invest the skills and expertise of world-class businesses to support the growth of the best social enterprises in the UK so they can help many more people in need. That in-kind help isn’t just an add-on, it’s the core element of the support we give.”

“As well as bringing huge benefits for our social enterprises we find that the business people get a lot out of the experience too from extending their networks and using their skills in different environment. We’re delighted to have reached this milestone and are excited for the future.”

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Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?

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Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.

Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.


Fulfilling a Genuine Need

Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.

Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.

After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.

Creating Opportunities

Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.


Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.

Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.

A Fundamental Foresight

Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.

However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.

They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.

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Green Companies Find Innovative Ways to Generate Capital to Expand

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Green business is a booming opportunity for shrewd, environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. According to a white paper by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, green businesses in the food service industry and other verticals are growing up to seven times faster than their conventional competitors.

“Green market segments in the United States are growing fast. Growth rates of “green” segments are outpacing conventional segments in every industry where we collected data – for example, over the decade ending in 2011, the U.S. organic food category grew at a rate of 238% compared to 33% growth for the overall food market, and most forecasts indicate that the shift to green will only accelerate across industries. Green business opportunities will be even more prolific over the next few years, because millennials are placing greater emphasis on environmentally friendly solutions.”


Unfortunately, many promising green companies are struggling to generate revenue. They need to be more creative to find funding opportunities in 2017.

Funding challenges green businesses face

After the financial crisis struck in 2008, banks and other traditional lending institutions became much more conservative about lending money. Many green businesses turned to grants provided by the Obama administration for funding. However, most of those grants have since been suspended under the Trump administration. Congress had difficulty resuming them, because most of the green businesses that were funded had a lower survival rate than the national average.

Without funding from either traditional banks or government grants, green businesses were forced to look for other financing options. Here are some options they have available.


Other lending institutions

While corporate banks are less likely to finance new businesses these days, many smaller financial institutions are more likely to assume the risk. Specialty lending institutions and credit unions with a strong social mission are often willing to invest in promising green businesses.

However, these lenders still require perspective borrowers to submit formal business plans and proposals on how they will use their funding. Too many of them have been burned by poorly managed green companies, so they must be cautious with lending to them.

Foreign lenders

Many other countries are more invested in green development than the United States. Companies with a presence in Norway or other European countries should consider seeking loans from lenders in those jurisdictions, such as Lånemegleren.

Green bonds

Green bonds are new financial instruments that have been developed specifically for financing green businesses. The Climate Bond Standard introduced a number of policies to ensure green bonds would be safe for investors and a reliable funding opportunity for green businesses around the world. By balancing the needs of both stakeholders, they have helped facilitate green financing.

The market for green bonds nearly quadrupled between 2013 and 2014. It rose to over $100 billion in 2015.

Green entrepreneur should find out if their business model is compliant with the climate Bond standard. They may be able to tap a growing source of funding.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another very popular way for all types of businesses to generate capital. Green businesses tend to benefit more than most other organizations, because crowdfunding investors tend to be more socially conscious. They are more eager to invest in companies that align with their outlooks on social causes. Since consumers are becoming more concerned about climate change and environmental preservation, they are more willing to invest in green businesses.

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