The background

The Engine Room – Driving Social Change

In December 2013 Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were recognised as a Social Enterprise Zone by Social Enterprise UK, the national body supporting enterprises that reinvest their profit for social or environmental purpose. This was an amazing achievement for a rural county, so why was Cornwall recognised in this way?

  1. Entrepreneurship is at the core of the Cornish economy – Cornwall has a high proportion of entrepreneurs, and many of those are social entrepreneurs, starting up enterprises with a social or environmental mission. In fact we have up to 1,000 socially motivated enterprises contributing £280 million to the Cornish economy and employing 13,200 people.
  2. We face tough economic and social challenges and our social enterprises are leading the way in finding solutions – with our GDP per head lower than the EU average and levels of deprivation that bely our beautiful environment, Cornwall continues to face challenges, but social enterprises are seeing higher rates of growth and job creation than most businesses and contributing to a number of innovative solutions such as Exhale’s family health projects. (www.exhale.org.uk)
  3. Cornwall has some of the best known social businesses in the UK and internationally – the Jamie Oliver inspired restaurant Fifteen (www.fifteencornwall.co.uk ) and the Eden Project (www.edenproject.com) are great examples but other organisations are also leading the way such as mental health provider Pentreath (www.pentreath.co.uk), energy efficiency experts Community Energy Plus (www.cep.org.uk) and sustainable tourism advocates CoaST (www.coastproject.org.uk) to name just a few.
  4. We have a rapidly emerging support landscape – a number of initiatives exist in Cornwall to support social businesses and the Engine Room is the most recent addition. Cornish social entrepreneurs, social enterprises and socially motivated businesses can now benefit from joining a growing network of like-minded organisations through interaction with a number of hubs, set up across the Cornwall. Working closely with Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (www.cn4c.org.uk), the Cornwall School for Social Entrepreneurs (www.the-sse.org/schools/4/cornwall) and the Real Ideas Organisation (www.realideas.org), Cornwall College is coordinating The Engine Room which hopes to bring people together to share experience, access expertise and mentoring and provide opportunities to collaborate. www.theengineroom.org.uk
  5. We have passion – above all else, SEUK (www.socialenterprise.org.uk) recognised that there were a passionate bunch or organisations in Cornwall, prepared to stick their necks out and push for something different….a new way of approaching the way we do business….one that puts people and planet first.

But, and here’s the big but… social enterprise isn’t just for the worthy, it’s a model that’s been around for centuries and is equally applicable to what some term as ‘mainstream’ business. In fact many businesses in Cornwall could be viewed as social enterprises, they create value locally, source locally, employ locally, and if they’re lucky enough to make a profit, reinvest locally. Does that make them so different, well not in our eyes….so whether you’re a so called ‘mainstream’ business, a social enterprise or a social entrepreneur, hopefully we all share the same passion for Cornwall, one that wants to see it flourish and develop. So if you want to find out more about how we can support you, or just join in the conversation contact us at @EngineUpdate and see how you can become more socially responsible and how you can benefit from collaborating with link minded entrepreneurs.