The Circle Academy is open for applications and has 25 fully-funded places.

We are thrilled to announce that The Circle has been awarded funding from the Scottish Government to provide 25 subsidised places on the next cohort of our Academy. The grant has been awarded to allow individuals from three target groups to take part in the entrepreneurial training programme, given by The Circle Academy. 

The Circle Academy is a 12-week online programme, for individuals, start-ups and organisations, who want their business to have a social impact, while operating in a commercially sustainable way. It is a practical and educational training programme for individuals or organisations interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ business.

The Circle Academy is an SQA accredited programme focused on developing skills in business planning, governance, finance, marketing, funding and pitching – with social impact.

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The Circle appoints new Academy Manager Jenny McCarthy pictured.

The Circle Academy appoints a new Academy manager.

The Circle Academy is a practical and educational training programme for individuals interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ business and is open to anyone who wants to create positive, social or environmental change in a sustainable and commercially viable way. We have supported an incredible 30 social entrepreneurs over the two years we have been running it.

Ahead of the launch of the 5th cohort, we are thrilled to announce our new Academy Manager is Jenny McCarthy. Jenny has been part of The Circle team since 2019, previously working for ACK Third Sector Consultants CIC which we merged with 2 years ago. As part of the ACK team, she was part of a team that supported individuals and organisations at all stages of their careers in a variety of areas. Jenny has helped support organisations in areas such as fundraising, event planning, feasibility studies and marketing. She has been a member of our consultancy team since she joined us in 2019 and has provided support in a few areas including grant writing, business planning and legal structures. Jenny has assisted with the Academy since its inception and will now be taking this knowledge and experience to run the programme. We know this move is going to be great for The Academy and the candidates and we can’t wait to see Jenny grow into this role.

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Wells Gibson logo

Wells Gibson are the second sponsor for cohort 4 of The Circle Academy

Dundee-based financial planning firm, Wells Gibson, have been announced as a second sponsor of social entrepreneurship training programme, The Circle Academy. This donation will be used towards the costs of the next cohort of candidates on the programme.

The Circle Academy is our practical education and training programme for those interested in running an organisation which has a positive social impact and has a financially sustainable business model, an approach we refer to as ‘More Than Profit’. The Academy is focused on developing skills and knowledge in mindset, business planning, legal structures, governance, finance, marketing, sales and selling, teams and culture, social impact, funding and pitching.

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Why a cash flow is crucial for social entrepreneurs

A man walks into a bank, pulls out a gun and says to the clerk, “Give me all your money. I need to set myself up in new social enterprise. I need initial investment until my cash flow is established.” 

The manager turns to the clerk and says, “You’d better do what he says, I think he means business.” 

How right our robber is, any social enterprise, no matter the size or how long it has been established, needs to have a robust cash flow. Like any other business, lack of cash is one of the biggest reasons for small business failure. 

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“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.

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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.

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Kirsty points to her name on the WISE 100 list

Our CEO was featured on the NatWest WISE100 list

Kirsty Thomson, Founder and CEO of The Circle, has been featured in the NatWest WISE100 list. This list, produced every year by NatWest Bank in partnership with Pioneers Post, recognises the 100 most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise. Kirsty was the only woman in Tayside to be named on this list.

This came just two days after The Circle was named Social Impact Business of The Year at the Courier Business Awards. Kirsty has worked with and for charities, social enterprises and community groups for the past 20 years. In her career she has raised over £13 million for the organisations she has worked for.

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How to recruit delegates to your next training event

We often see organisations book our meeting rooms in Dundee to offer training sessions. Typically, organisations identify a training requirement that organisations across Dundee and Angus share. It is a way of offering a snapshot of their expertise and deliver valuable information in a short timeframe.

Organisations have to cover the cost of their time, the venue, catering and of course, the valuable expertise they have spent years developing.  Sometimes organisations have funding to deliver training free of charge to the recipient. In many cases, the organisation charges delegates to come along.

Most training sessions come about with an identified need in a particular sector or due to changes in external factors.

The training organisation books the room then puts the event up on Eventbrite or their own website and they get on with trying to promote the event. There are some factors we have seen that can lead to events being very well subscribed, and others struggling. Here are some things to consider.

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What is a growth mindset? We hosted an event by Jamie McBrearty to find out

Before meeting Jamie I had heard of ‘growth mindset’. I knew it was something they were doing at schools in Dundee and it involved using the word, ‘yet’. When Jamie came to visit The Circle at the end of 2016 our CEO, Kirsty, invited him to come and do a workshop for the community to find out more. We invited our tenants, email list, local businesses and city charities and social enterprises to come along. Around 30 of us gathered yesterday so Jamie could share what it was all about and what work is being done in Dundee to implement some of the useful ideas.

Jamie is a Growth Mindset Manger employed by Leisure and Culture Dundee, working primarily in the Strathmartine Ward of Dundee but with responsibility for engaging with city-wide community groups. The Growth Mindset project started in education but is now being applied in many fields across the local authority. The national lead for Growth Mindset is Winning Scotland Foundation.

Jamie gave us an overview of the research of Carol Dweck, an expert in the field. Our mindset is a set of beliefs we have affecting how we think, feel and behave. There are two types of mindset but most people show an element of both to some degree.

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What makes a good workspace?

At The Circle we are embarking on a journey that will transform a former government skills centre in Dundee to a vibrant hub of activity for charities, social enterprises, organisations and the community. We want to provide affordable workspace to people doing great work that helps the community as well as the economy.

 

With so much potential we want to make sure we get the space just right. We have refurbishment and development work to do and are working with expert local suppliers to get great service and quality of support. What is most important is that the space works for those who need it the most… So what do you think? What is most important in your workspace?

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