Start up funding for social entrepreneurs in Dundee

Social entrepreneurs are being invited to pitch for a share of a £20,000 funding pot towards start-up costs for their ventures. The Circle and funding body, UnLtd, are inviting people starting up organisations or projects which will benefit the Dundee community to make a pitch about their venture to a panel of judges. Following the pitches, successful entrants will be awarded up to £5,000 to cover some of their start-up costs.

Those who are interested in this opportunity should register their interest by contacting eileeninglis@unltd.org.uk or by completing an application here: https://www.unltd.org.uk/our-work/our-focus-areas/resilient-communities

Continue reading

Welcoming Alvina Menzies to the team

The Circle has welcomed a new member of staff to their team. Alvina Menzies will be joining the team as Academy Manager in August. She will be managing The Circle Academy during its third cohort beginning on September 17th and concluding in December.

The Circle Academy is our 12-week programme focused on developing skills and knowledge in the following key areas: mindset, business model, finance, legal, governance, people, social impact and sustainability through multiple income streams. The programme is now SQA accredited as a level 7 SVQ – successful candidates will complete the programme with a business plan, cashflow and marketing strategy as well as an award in ‘The Circle Academy Award in Social Entrepreneurship’.

Continue reading

Introducing our new project: The Circle Superstars

We are excited to be introducing a new project to benefit children and young people during the lockdown. Set to launch in June, The Circle Superstars is a new initiative to provide activity packs to children and young people living in Dundee whose families currently access provisions from local food projects. The packs will include activities that will stimulate creativity while encouraging a focus on mindset, community and environment. This is a pilot project and will initially be delivered in the areas within Strathmartine Ward. This project has been funded by the Wellbeing Fund; a fund administered by the Scottish Government for organisations providing important services for people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue reading

Squaring The Circle

Squaring The Circle: To find the solution to a seemingly impossible challenge 

Join us for a series of webinars designed to provide third sector organisations with the relevant knowledge to find solutions to issues facing the sector today.
Throughout this series Kirsty Thompson, CEO of The Circle CIC, and a number of industry experts will deliver weekly sessions on funding, marketing, governance and more. 
 
These sessions will include an overview of the topic, an interactive activity and time for a Q&A session where the speaker can answer your burning questions. 

Continue reading

Our new Digital Learning Producer, Alice

Last week I joined the team here at The Circle as Digital Learning Producer on an internship through The Rank Foundation’s Time to Shine programme. My role will be to assist Kara, the Academy Manager, in delivering The Circle Academy, alongside producing a digital platform for future cohorts of the Academy to use as an additional resource. 

I arrived in Dundee in August last year, and with an existing interest in social enterprise, I was keen to dive into the More Than Profit scene here in Dundee. I was delighted to discover the quantity and rich variety of socially and environmentally focused businesses and organisations creating change in the city. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time volunteering at Dundee’s first zero waste shop as well as meeting several inspiring leaders and social entrepreneurs. 

Continue reading

“The Circle saved my business” first cohort of social entrepreneurs complete The Circle Academy

The first cohort of social entrepreneurs who completed our ‘More Than Profit’ training programme, The Circle Academy, have taken part in a pitch competition. The Circle Academy – the first of its kind in Scotland – was launched by Dundee-based social enterprise The Circle. The training programme was created to provide people with knowledge and tools to build sustainable ‘More Than Profit’ businesses. The candidates attended expert speaker sessions which covered topics including mindset, governance, business planning and social impact, as well as taking part in tasks to generate income. Throughout the course the candidates were also supported to work on aspects of their business including a business plan and a marketing strategy.

The Circle Academy was run by Academy Manager, Kara Swankie, a former Commonwealth power-lifting gold medallist who at just 24 has already set up and sold two businesses. Coming from a commercial background, Kara already had instilled within her a drive to focus on profit and financial sustainability which is a quality that The Circle wanted to foster in the candidates who joined the Academy. The Circle launched the Academy with an aim to ensure that the organisations being set up and developed by the candidates on the programme would be sustainable in the long term.

Continue reading

The Circle welcomes three new Board members

We are delighted to welcome three new non-executive Directors to our Board, Mary Sneddon, Natalie Lafferty and Ron Smith. Mary Sneddon is Manager for Dundee Independent Advocacy Support, one of our tenant organisations. Natalie Lafferty is Head of the Digital Education Team at the University of Dundee’s Centre for Technology and Innovation in Learning. Ron Smith is Managing Director of Glamis Investments, a Dundee-based investment business that provides capital, advice and management support to innovative entrepreneurs.

We have been diligent in our recruitment efforts to ensure that we have individuals on the Board who can offer insight from different viewpoints. The Board already includes people with knowledge and expertise in governance, service design, HR and workplace culture.

Our Founder and CEO Kirsty Thomson says,

“We are excited to welcome Mary, Natalie and Ron to our Board. At The Circle we value diversity in all its forms including diversity of thought which is why we have invited people with a varied of backgrounds and experiences to join the Board. We will now benefit from Board members who have expertise in areas such as education and finance, and having someone who can share insight as a tenant is very important to us.”

Why Dundee? Scotland’s only ‘More Than Profit’ training programme launches this month in the City of Discovery

Dundee as a centre for social reform

In its recent history, Dundee has seen a transformation of its waterfront, the opening of V&A Dundee, a renovation of its railway station, the attracting of major hotel chains and the award of UNESCO City of Design. The city is making big strides in building on its cultural reputation and bring visitors from across the world. The impact of that work is to be applauded.  

While it gives many in the city a boost and we consider how to make the most of the opportunities this shift brings, we cannot ignore the other story playing out in a tale of two cities. 

Continue reading
Danielle du Plooy

Solving social issues: meet the people who inspired The Circle Academy

For the past three years at The Circle, and for many years in her career before that, our Founder & CEO, Kirsty Thomson has been meeting people with a vision. Their exact motivations differ but their values are the same, they are not prepared to sit by and watch people around them struggle in their lives. They see a problem in their community, they have sought to understand it and they want to implement solutions. Crucially, they also want their work to be sustainable and make an impact.

Time and time again, we have seen such people struggle. We have seen organisations start with great intentions, but the reality is that they don’t make the impact they want. They struggle to maintain an income beyond start-up funding, they don’t have the right governance in place, the skills of their boards don’t have the right balance and they lack the capacity to meet their aims. They then become disheartened and can face personal hardship. There is currently no programme in place to intensely and robustly nurture and challenge people who have the passion and ideas to make changes that improve the prosperity of communities.

Continue reading