Ashford borough is a thriving hub of social enterprise, according to a report commissioned by Ashford Borough Council and Social Enterprise Kent.
The report, which surveyed 36 Ashford based social enterprises, asked several questions about the nature of the businesses, and what support they felt they needed to grow. The council will be analysing the results of the report to plan what advice and support we can offer.
There is a wide range of social enterprises in the borough, covering small craft businesses, environmental organisations, multi-million pound healthcare businesses, and so many more.
The report highlighted three main themes:
- Recognising the value (and added value) of social enterprises;
- Supporting social enterprises to grow;
- The range and capacity of social enterprises.
The responses show that the average turnover of the social enterprises within Ashford borough is £60,556, and that generally they are small, with half having only one or two staff members. They also support volunteering opportunities with several of the respondents saying they work with volunteers.
The most frequent area of support required were around networking, advice on funding, and peer support. Specialist support for social enterprises could be required for legal structures, governance, finance, marketing, measuring social impact, managing an organisation, public sector commissioning and procurement.
Rebecca Smith, Deputy CEO of Social Enterprise Kent CIC, said: “The social enterprise sector in Ashford is thriving – and Social Enterprise Kent is so proud to be part of it. With our oldest Ashford social enterprise dating back to the 1920s, and brand new social enterprises starting up each month, we are excited to see the strength and growth of the sector in the borough. We are in challenging times, and social enterprises are uniquely placed to make a real difference in our communities due to the combination of entrepreneurial skills with social and environmental causes.”
Melissa Dawkins, Director of Craftship Enterprise CIC, said: “There is a growing group of inspiring entrepreneurs who wish to give something back to society that are based here in Ashford. These creative, forward thinking business people that have a social conscience are transforming the way we spend our money to go back into the community. These social enterprises work closely with one and other, collaborating, networking and together are helping to create a better Ashford.”
Tracey Kerly, Chief Executive of Ashford Borough Council, said: “This report is a first step towards working more closely with the social enterprises in the borough. Together we can encourage businesses, organisations, residents and communities to use social enterprises; recognising that the money spent on goods and services will be reinvested back into the community, creating a fairer, more caring borough for everyone. The council wishes to whole heartedly support this sector and to see it grow and flourish.”
You can read the full report on the council’s Newshub – https://news.ashford.gov.uk/media/2393/ashford-a-growing-social-enterprise-sector-report-september-2019.pdf