A key part of our programmes are ‘Witness sessions’ when students hear from inspirational speakers (witnesses) who have first-hand experience of the issues our students are facing. Like witnesses in a law court they give testimony about what it’s really like to start and grow social organisations. Our Witnesses are some of the most inspirational entrepreneurs around who take time out of their very busy lives to help our social entrepreneurs. We’d like you to meet them and be inspired!
Meet: Karen Lynch, CEO Belu Water
What does your organisation do?
Belu is the UK’s most ethical mineral water brand. We exist to set the environmental benchmark in our industry, trade sustainably through supply to the UK’s hotel and restaurant industry, with the purpose of investing the profits we make into solving the issue of water poverty.
How did you get involved with your organisation / What was your motivation for founding your organisation?
I had made the decision to ‘move on’ from my corporate career and I was working as a consultant. In 2009 I had zero awareness of social enterprise and it was a happy coincidence.
What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever made as a social entrepreneur?
I get a dozen requests a week for help and advice. Having to say No is still the hardest part – but it wouldn’t be possible to support all the requests and continue to do my job.
Are you ever tempted to stop being a social entrepreneur and get a “normal job”? What keeps you going?
Of course, at least once a week. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think about an easier option.
What’s your top tip(s) for social entrepreneur’s on measuring impact?
Start by picking the ONE thing to measure that will a) really count and b) can be measured – find a way!
Who is your (social) entrepreneurial idol and why?
Peter Holbrook – He’s such an enormous character, hugely and consistently smart and positive.
What would you say to your 18 year old self?
It took me a while to figure this out – ‘find out what you are good at, then do something good with it’.
If you could only go to one more music concert, which artist would you see (living or dead)?
ELVIS – every time!
What do you get out of witnessing for the SSE?
It’s a brilliant reminder of how far we have at Belu have come, because it’s all too easy to forget to celebrate the positive steps on the journey and instead just beat yourself up when progress isn’t good enough or fast enough. That said, sharing the hard bits and the failures make it cathartic for me, and I hope it helps those there to see it’s not easy, but it is worth it.