Student update: Asha Patel, Innovating Minds.

Share Button

By Asha Patel

Asha Patel is currently a student on our Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs start up course in the Midlands. This blog provides an insight into the first year of running a social enterprise and how the School for Social Entrepreneurs has helped along the way… 

“We offer a world where young people with emotional and mental health needs are supported to achieve their aspirations”.

I am on the SSE West Midlands course and before starting I had not started to generate an income, I just had an idea in mind. After sitting on the idea for 12 months, I finally took the leap of faith and I personally invested £7,500 to set up Innovating Minds CIC in 2016. This money was invested into marketing and branding material to bring the enterprise alive. It also helped me to have materials ready to exhibit at three conferences (of course all of this was done whilst I was working full time). On Monday 29th February, I took the leap of faith and handed in my resignation. Promise I didn’t plan to take the leap on a leap day- it just felt right.

Commencing ‘trading’ in September 2016 (contract established from a contact I made at one of the exhibitions) with my first SLA worth over £20,000. I commuted to London on a weekly basis to deliver my service to support students, teachers and parents wellbeing by creating a whole school approach to mental health. Within 10 months of trading, we have secured over £180,000 worth of funding and successfully become a specialist delivery partner for the Building Better Opportunities project in Coventry and Warwickshire, which is part funded by European Social Fund and Big Lottery Fund. We have three employees, and all of our initial contracts have been renewed and doubled so we can make a bigger impact. To date we have reached 937 individuals with our work in the UK.

In July 2017, we were sponsored to visit Bangladesh for a week with a team of three colleagues to raise awareness of mental health in educational settings. In total we reached over 2000 people, this included students, teachers and parents! We have also been asked to put a proposal together so we can establish our services in Bangladesh.

I believe the SSE programme has enabled me to develop confidence in myself and it has given me nuggets of information that I have been able to take away and implement. The peer support has been incredible, my peers have shared this learning journey with me and they have supported me when I have experienced knockbacks and celebrated the successes with me. The action learning has enabled me to take a step back and really unpick the challenges I am facing individually and as a social enterprise. I am very grateful for this amazing experience with SSE, the support from Rozzie and Charles has been amazing. I hope one day I can give back.

Share Button

Slides from our Working With Corporates workshop.

Share Button

We ran our Working With Corporates workshop again in July, here are the slides that provided an overview through the day:

We were fortunate to be joined by some outstanding speakers during the day:

  • Natalie Tucker – Senior Manager, Three Hands
  • Emma Mortoo- Corporate Development Manager, School Home Support
  • Su Pickerill – Community Investment Manager, Wates Group Services
  • Peter Weiss – Partner, Simmons, Muirhead & Burton
  • Liz Cope – Senior CR Advisor (Global) Linklaters LLP

If you’re interested in booking a place on the next course, you can do so here: 

Share Button

Staying positive: Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You

Share Button

The world is a pretty dark place at times. Events in Manchester on Monday demonstrated the depths to which the human race can sink. The mind can’t begin to comprehend what drives someone to do something like that. Predictably, the gutter press and imbeciles like Katie Hopkins then try to dominate the response to try and push their agenda of division and hate. It’s all a bit bleak.

But you know what? Most of us are alright. We’re not perfect, but we go about our business each day, try and help people where we can and look out for one another. And that’s worth remembering; one of the reasons I enjoy writing this newsletter each week is that each story is a little vignette of something positive – good people, doing good things. Long may it remain so…


A while back I mentioned the Unusual Suspects Festival which is taking place in London on 14th – 16th June. The programme has been announced and you can now register for tickets. The three days will explore ‘what happens when social innovation meets collaboration and how together we can meet some of society’s most pressing challenges.’

Clothing company Patagonia is offering grants of up to $12,000 to environmental organisations that ‘that identify and work on the root causes of problems and that approach issues with a commitment to long-term change’. Applications to the European tranche of funding are open until June 30th.

SSE Fellow Marie Osborne is running a share offer for her organisation Future Wolverton. The money will pay for the redevelopment and refurbishment of the Old School, a Grade 2 listed building and create a community hub and guest house facility run by 6th form students from Slated Row School, a school for children and young people with moderate to severe learning difficulties. If you’d like to invest, you’ll qualify for Social Enterprise Tax Relief.

Not one, not two, but three awards for you to enter this week. Social Enterprise UK have thirteen categories this year and will be closing applications on 7th July. Social Enterprise Scotland will be closing applications to their awards on 10th July. Finally, our friends at Blue Patch are looking for exciting and interesting entrepreneurs and businesses across the British Isles to enter their Business Awards – make sure that you apply by 24th July.

Charities and community groups in Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire, Birmingham and the Black Country can apply for a grant from the Wesleyan Foundation. The grants will be focused on organisations that promote or improve health, education, innovation or social development.

SSE Fellow Whitney Iles has written a great blog on things to consider when starting up a social enterprise. There are some very useful pieces of advice in there.

Local Trust are carrying out a piece of research to understand how communities become more empowered and vibrant in the next ten years. They are keen to gather a wide range of views about the future of communities; individuals, organisations, public services and community groups can all take part – further details here.

SSE Fellow Marie Yates and her colleague Chris Kent have launched CPD Academy, a new venture supporting people who want to develop a social enterprise working with dogs. They’ve also published a book on the subject: The Power Of The Human-Canine Bond; Turning Your Passion Into A Business.

Social enterprise Voice Over are piloting Connected, a new video-link interpreting service and are looking for 12 organisations to take part in the pilot. The service costs £29.50+ VAT per hour and organisations taking part in the pilot will not have to pay any subscription charges for the first year. Connected will suit organisations with clients or staff in remote locations, or who avoid using interpreters because of the costs involved. Email Zahra – – for further information.

Finally, a useful new resource. Charity Catalogue is a collection of online tools that can be accessed by not for profits at a discounted rate. There are tools for email marketing, social media, volunteering and donation processing among others.

Want to receive this in your inbox every Friday morning? It looks much prettier. Sign up here

What’s on at SSE:


Share Button

Starting a Social Enterprise – a presentation

Share Button

Slides from a presentation on ‘Starting a Social Enterprise’ delivered by SSE at the City Business Library on 1st March 2017 and at Goldsmiths University on 6th March 2017.

Some of the resources mentioned during the presentation:

General support 

Legal Structures 


Share Button

Out of quarantine: Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You

Share Button


Hello again! After a week of illness Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You is back – probably best that you keep a safe distance though, just in case. This newsletter was touch and go as well due to unprecedented levels of busyness this week; I’ve had to postpone the appointment marked ‘start winding down for Christmas’ for at least another week. Don’t all shed a tear at once.

Enjoy this week’s news and have a good weekend.


Continue reading

Share Button