“Social entrepreneurs are some of the most innovative change makers that I know”

6 Feb 2024

We were delighted to have had Stuart Andrew MP (Minister for Equalities) attend our Parliamentary event last Wednesday evening and start the proceedings with a welcome speech. 

As a Parliamentarian with both civil society as part of his brief and prior experience working within the VCSE sector, it was brilliant to have the Minister’s support and hear his key thoughts on the sector.  

Here are the key highlights from Stuart Andrew’s speech:

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be here to tonight. Delighted to celebrate the fantastic work of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. This is an important opportunity for networking and what I love about this area of work is the collaboration and sharing of ideas. 

The launch of the Lloyd’s Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme report shows us all the huge value of social entrepreneurship. The 2400 social entrepreneurs, trained and funded by SSE, via grants funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, over the last 10 years have supported 2 million beneficiaries. That is something I think you should be incredibly proud of. These organisations span the UK, reaching many communities that are in need. In addition, what is striking is that the SSE backed social entrepreneurs have a two-year survival rate of 81%, outstripping their [SME] counterparts by almost 10 percent. 

Whilst the report is full of impressive statistics, what strikes me more, is how impressive the people behind the stats are. Just look at the brilliant people in this room tonight. Later on, this evening, you’ll be hearing from Cemal, who, in 2015, founded Change Please, to train homeless people as baristas. Change Please has an incredible 70% success rate of helping their beneficiaries find work or get back into education [via their support]. And statistics, I think, can mask the importance of the effect on individual people’s lives. It is amazing that this work has been happening. You’ll also be hearing from [social entrepreneur] Veronica who is using her social enterprise, Our Version Media CIC, to train and represent underrepresented communities in Southampton, in journalism and media, which is amazing. 

As a Minister, I often get people coming to me with a host of problems. What I often hear [in this sector] are the solutions and that is what makes this [work] really, really exciting. Social entrepreneurs are some of the most innovative change makers that I know and I’m proud that we are here [tonight] to support them. 

People in a small crowd listening to a speech

Stuart Andrew addressed a packed room at parliament

Investment is key and the dormant asset scheme has seen £517m allocated so far to social investment wholesalers supporting thousands of charities and social enterprises across England like this. Like Miss Macaroon in Birmingham, a social enterprise that received investment from the dormant asset scheme and reinvests a hundred percent of its profits into training young people so that they can have the very best for their lives. Support for entrepreneurs is also critical as [SSE] knows all too well.  

Via my department [which supports] social enterprise we have unveiled the Boost Fund [which] is delivering £4m of targeted support for disadvantaged areas in England with start-up grants delivered alongside supports and training opportunities. We’re also providing advice through the VCSE Contract Readiness Fund with the help of [SSE], and the project has so far benefited over 500 organizations. Enabling them to improve their skills, knowledge and networks to bid for public contracts. Something I feel very passionately about. I know there are some issues there. Don’t worry. I’m trying to do what I can to try and solve that, but I know that there is more that we can do. 

Events like tonight are really important and provide a way of sharing ideas and telling us what more we can do to support all of you in the amazing work, you do. Thank you to Ali and his team [at SSE] for inviting me to join you this evening. You’ve heard enough from me. What I really want you to do is [now] hear from those truly inspirational people. From the bottom of my heart, I mean it, when I say thank you, you are inspirational leaders and your work, to be honest with you, they’re amongst the best ministerial visits I ever do”. 

We’ll be sharing highlights from Veronica and Cemal’s speeches over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, we encourage you to heed the Minister’s words and explore the amazing work of some of the social enterprises involved in the programme and featured within the report. Check out the findings and impressive statistics here.