Social Enterprise Conferences/Webinars

To access the resources and information from the webinars please visit the website: Social Enterprise Platform

The 14th and 21st April were very exciting days for the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre and everybody interested in social enterprise (SE). Social enterprises are businesses trading for social and environmental purposes. Thanks to these two live conferences and the webinars organised by the Futures Centre we were able to connect with people from all over the world.

SE webinars
Our poster

The main initiative behind these events was to support the vibrant and growing social enterprise sector within the city of Plymouth and across the region, and to create an online networking platform that would enable social enterprises to share resources, to learn from each other’s experience and ultimately flourish.

This year Plymouth will celebrate its 2nd anniversary of being a ‘Social Enterprise City’ – Councillor Chris Penberthy points out that social enterprises are a valuable part of Plymouth’s economic and community wellbeing. Figures show that there are about 150 social enterprises in and around Plymouth, employing approximately 7000 people (Plymouth Social Enterprise Network: 2015).


Plymouth University together with the Futures Centre play a significant role in supporting social enterprise. Plymouth University was the first university in the world to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of working as a genuine social enterprise, caring for communities and protecting the planet.

Judith Reynolds, the Project Director Social Enterprise points out that ‘for Plymouth University, it is absolutely fundamental that we, as an anchor institution for the South west, use our world-class research and our entrepreneurial expertise to boost social enterprise in our communities’.

Each of the live events/webinars held this month had a specific mission and both consisted of presentations by various social entrepreneurs and lecturers followed by a panel discussion that was led by Professor Gideon Maas.

The event on Tuesday 14th April covered new trends in finance and marketing for SE.We welcomed many interesting speakers such as Dawn Bebe (Communications Director of Crowdfunding), Dirk Rohwedder (Director of SEEDBED Accelerator Programme), and Dr Victoria Hurth (Marketing Lecturer and Programme Manager).

Dawn Bebe talked about the power of crowdfunding, a community of over 100,000 people supporting over 11,000 projects. Crowdfunding raised over £4.5M for projects in the UK. One interesting example she spoke about was Newquay Community Orchard – an ambitious 7acre community garden situated on land provided by the Duchy of Cornwall. She explained that Plymouth itself is a crowd-funder local campaign where Plymouth City Council matches money raised by Crowdfunders to support community groups, start-up businesses, charities and individuals across the city.

Dirk Rohwedder spoke about the SEEDBED initiative, a cutting edge support and investment opportunity designed for social ventures in the South West. The partnership led by the Dartington Hall Trust has just launched its first group of social enterprises in the South West. Devon and Cornwall have some of the highest rates of social enterprise creation per head of population. SEEDBED can help them develop and grow, creating significant jobs and dramatically changing the status quo.

Dr. Victoria Hurth talked about a new philosophy of marketing which she calls ‘Guide and Co- Create for Sustainability’, and we are in an era where marketing recognizes its leadership role but also recognizes that it can only properly lead if it does this hand-in hand with the customer to create offerings that maximize wellbeing within constrained resources. She believes that social enterprises have three key things that for- profit business don’t have… humanity, compassion and the potential to make the world a better place.

After the speakers Gideon Maas launched a lively question and answer session. In addition to the three speakers, we had the pleasure of welcoming a social entrepreneur Gareth Hart, the director of Iridescent Ideas CIC – a community interest company that provides advice and support, particularly around legal structures and governance for SE.

The event on Tuesday 21stApril focused on a wide range of inspiring social enterprise stories from across the region. Social entrepreneurs explained the development of their own social enterprise and shared their stories. We had the pleasure of welcoming The Column Bakehouse, Effervescent, Plymouth Energy Community, Flameworks and Bikespace.

Lindsey Hall from the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) talked about improving the lives of some of the most disadvantaged by providing opportunities and creating jobs. She also talked about her passion, the transformation of the most beautiful and historic part of Plymouth – Devonport. Reforming Devonport, regenerating areas through commercial ventures and making Devonport a tourist destination is only one of the driving forces behind RIO. She also talked about the multi –award –winning artisan bakery, located in the ground floor of Devonport Guildhall called the Column Bakehouse: the bakers only use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, support local farmers and follow the old baking traditions.

We were delighted to be able to taste the Column Bakehouse products during our event

The Column Bakehouse provided the most delicious and divine artisan bread, olives and other nibbles. Thank you

The recording of Eloise Malone from Effervescent and Radiant Art Gallery introduced the aims and mission of this dynamic arts company. This SE works with health, social, education and heritage organisations to help people transform their inner and outer worlds – therefore helping the world become happier and kinder through multidisciplinary art, innovation, creative engagement and research.

The Rumpus Cosy café provided us with spectacular Victoria sponge and breathtakingly tasty carrot cake. Thank you

Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) is a social enterprise that helps people save money and energy in their home and supports communities. Alistair MacPherson explained that PEC does this by focusing on three core goals: Reducing energy bills and fuel poverty, Improving energy efficiency and Generating a green energy supply in the city.


Gabi Marcellus-Temple from Flameworks explained how this artists’ studio provider came to exist in 2000 through a group of metalworkers looking for somewhere to practise. Flameworks supports artists and makers in every way it can. It provides metalworking, glasswork and pottery facilities, offers courses and organises regular exhibitions.

Bikespace is a non-profit Vocational Training Centre based in Devonport. Gareth Thomas’s passion for bikes helped him to create this centre that provides inspiration and vocational training to young people struggling with mainstream education. The pupils develop transferrable skills which will enable them to succeed in the workplace. The centre increases young people’s sense of social responsibility. Gareth also brought along his colleague Brett Nicoll who talked about urban arrow, a cargo bike developed to facilitate eco – sustainable deliveries for Plymouth. It does not emit CO2 therefore it’s a great asset to the environment. For more information on Urban Arrow

Day in the life of a recycled bicycle is a new video made by Bikespace

All of the recordings used during the webinars can be found on our website:

Both of the events were very informative and generated interesting discussions. Questions were taken from the floor and also thanks to our webinar technology from all over the world.

I would not have been able to organise this event without help from my colleagues Amber Strong and Emily Lane and my IT gurus Daniel Metcalfe and Flea Palmer from FoBIT. I would also like to thank Jeannine Levers for all her help, support, energy and fun and my manager Sarah Stevenson who was part of the panel for the 2nd event and helped to make the evening a great success.

I loved everything about the events and it was a real pleasure to meet enthusiastic speakers, social entrepreneurs and people passionate about social enterprise.

Please do not hesitate to contact me on:

Elena Novakova
Elena Novakova

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