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Supporting social enterprise in Hampshire

Who are Action Hampshire and what to they do?  

Action Hampshire is a charity based in Winchester with a broad strategic role to support the not-for-profit sector (everything that is not private or public sector) in and around Hampshire; similarly to FSB, this may include lobbying & representation.

Their specialisms include: 
1. social enterprise development
2. research and engagement; 
3. community buildings
4. communty-led and affordable rural housing

Under social enterprise development Action Hampshire run a School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), where they train entrepreneurs to set up and run social enterprises. Social enterprises are businesses run, for a social and/or environmental purpose, by entrepreneurs whose primary motivation is to bring about change in society and are doing this through business practices. They have much in common with entrepreneurs in the private sector – taking significant financial and personal risks to start and run their enterprises.

Working with SSE – a better way to do corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

CSR, a comparatively recent badge, can be seen to be applicable only to large companies and often in the form of philanthropic giving. Action Hampshire believe that a different approach to CSR can work well for SMEs and social entrepreneurs as follows:

1) By SMEs offering some mentoring/business support to a social entrepreneur who, typically will be driven by the social/ environmental change they want to see in the world, and often has to remind themselves about the profit/loss account.

2) By including social enterprises in supply chains.  Social enterprises produce shoes, toilet paper, bicycles, coffee, stationery & office supplies, Fairtrade workwear, chocolate; they deliver catering, training, legal, HR and many other services.  Buying from them helps a businesses’ CSR and contributes to their viability (though at SSE the emphasis is that their customers should buy from them primarily because of the strength of the service/product and only secondarily, because they are a social enterprise).

Action Hampshire and the FSB are exploring ways to make CSR work for both sets of members. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or supporting Action Hampshire, please email Neil Eames