Dartington Social Entrepreneurs
The Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs 2016-17 programme has come to an end. It has been a whirlwind of learning and development. 20 members of the cohort will be graduating to SSE Fellow status. Well done everyone! Is the world ready for us?
In spite of our enterprise ideas being very diverse – from Sexplain to
Holly Bee Flowers, from Mums4AChange to Catch a Memory with Mrs Marvellous, from Horsemanship for Health to legal support from Whats Your Problem. Whatever we were trying to ‘fix’, it seemed as if we were travelling the same road. That is what it means to be a social entrepreneur! Whilst our outputs may vary we were all able to benefit from one another in a way I would not have thought possible. The ‘Cohort of 16-17’ has been very supportive and inclusive – caring for one another and not just focused on our own project. I for one have found it an excellent programme. You hear someone struggling and discover that their problem is your problem, their solution your solution. Amazing!
What difference did it make to my enterprise?
Before I joined the programme I had a successful Met Office pilot study of a Dementia Carer Friendly workplace. It was important for me to reach out to other organisations and to show people the positive difference support in the workplace can make to working dementia carers.
There were many start-up business skills I did not possess and I had no clear understanding of the correct legal structure I should be creating. Without SSE I would have created the wrong one.
During our sessions we had input from SSE Fellows who had taken part in previous programmes. Hearing their ups and downs – warts and all – was such a revelation and gave us a boost when we needed it most. Our programme support in the form of the lovely Sam was like the glue which held us together. It was incredible how you would attend a 1 to 1 with her thinking you just did not know where to go, but by the time you left you had found new zest and direction! She was so full of information and helpful tips which came from her involvement in all the previous programmes. Sam – I can’t thank you enough.
We had Action Learning sets along the way. These were smaller more personal groups and enabled a stronger connection to be made. The overall intention was to challenge the person in ways which help them to find their own answers. As a Social Entrepreneur you fundamentally know what you are trying to deliver or achieve, but it is sometimes difficult to extract the way forwards. It is not for someone else to give you the answer, but for you to be enabled to find it for yourself. Powerful stuff when it works! Our graduation will not be the end for my group, but the beginning of a new independent phase going forwards.
Do you have a social vision?
I you have a social vision you would like to explore, then why not look into the SSE programmes running near you? The SSE team are very approachable. Contact them to find out how they could help you to get started. Just think of the difference you could make to the world when your social enterprise idea succeeds!
Thank you to all the supporters and sponsors of the programme. The funding has made a massive difference to how far we have been able to come in just 12 months. Lloyds Bank mentors also provide their time and expertise which just shows how much they support this programme. The programme team were approachable, knowledgeable and supportive throughout. Without you all we would not be graduating as SSE Fellows with such a solid foundation for our enterprises going forwards.