It is clear from our first year of social impact reporting that we are bringing about positive change in the lives of borough residents. Entrepreneurialism is enabled, meaningful employment for local people triggered and employability skills raised. Social enterprise is flourishing alongside private enterprise as new co-operative models form and a network of local people support and supply to each other. The Tree Shepherd theory of change is based on trusting residents and patiently supporting them. The evidence so far shows this approach is bearing fruit.
In today’s economy where many are still not able to penetrate the jobs market or can only get part-time, short-term or zero hours contracts – self-employment, whether part-time or full-time is an increasing reality. In the UK there are 180,000 new self-employed people in the first quarter of 2014 alone. Recent research by the RSA shows people enter self-employment for a whole raft of positive reasons such as wanting more flexibility or being more in control of their working lives.
You can access the report here: RSA Report on Self-Employment, 28th May 2014
Self-employers and entrepreneurs need to be supported in their communities and equipped with basic business knowledge if they are to stand a chance of success. To not help them is reckless and is setting people up to fail.
Even from school age, local authority provision continues to focus on the ‘journey to jobs’ without including the entrepreneur option. In order that local authorities are better able to reach their social objectives, a package of support for start-ups that is sensitive to community ability and need is essential. Tree Shepherd can provide a local authority with the expertise required to set up this package of support.
There are several ways in which private companies can develop their CR programme and meet their targets by supporting Tree Shepherd. The social outputs already achieved by Tree Shepherd can be improved on with the expertise, investment and philanthropy offered by corporate organisations. This is of particular appeal to those companies who are keen to be involved in enterprise, employment and employability projects. CR opportunities include:
- employee engagement with an enterprise mentoring programme
- employee delivery of training packages in areas such as marketing, finance and commerce
- professional secondment opportunities in new businesses
- hosting and panelling at network events and start-up presentations.
Greater opportunities are also presented for private companies who are seeking to be the main benefactors for new enterprise support programmes that target other socially deprived areas around London.
Through use of a sponsor’s logo in all communications, promotion of partnership working, attendance and key note addresses at public events, Tree Shepherd can offer a number of benefits:
- increased visibility and access to a rapidly growing south London business network
- increased branding recognition
- kudos associated with supporting a social enterprise that is well-connected with the London-wide business community
- partner access to marketing and PR events
- volunteer opportunities for students
- commercial work experience placements either at Tree Shepherd HQ or with a small start-up enterprise
- volunteer mentor opportunities for staff and students
- live case studies of businesses that are growing in London’s deprived communities which are a very useful tool for study and research around social change
- a ready enterprise network that students can associate with.
Due to our work with such a large group of entrepreneurial people from London’s inner city communities, universities are able to partner with us, understand more about the dynamics of the 21st Century labour market and how it impacts on people.
In the months ahead we envisage that many will develop profitable businesses and will want to support the Tree Shepherd initiative and contribute to the growth of other fledgling enterprises in their area. We envisage this will take three forms:-
- Investment in new local start-ups
- Donations to the Tree Shepherd programme