Understanding funding for social entrepreneurs

For any business the ultimate goal is to become financially self-sustaining, and one way to achieve this is through investment and fundraising. At The Circle we adopt a ‘More Than Profit’ approach and encourage others to do so as well. Having a ‘More than Profit’ approach means that companies with a social impact should aim to be self-sustaining from doing what they do (e.g. the sales of its products and/or services) and should not be reliant on a single income stream.

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What Is The Circle Academy?

Here at The Circle, we’ve been thinking hard about how to distil down to it’s essence, exactly what The Circle Academy is, and what it can do for you and your business. It’s an informed, multifaceted approach to equipping social leaders with business skills, covering a plethora of topics.

You can find out more about The Circle Academy here, but with the second cohort of the Academy just around the corner, we thought we’d break down exactly what it is, and answer some of your frequently asked questions along the way:

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The Circle Academy: A Springboard For Social Entrepreneurs

Look at an individual’s drive to create change with innovative ideas and creative solutions, and it’s easy to see why social enterprise in the UK is booming. From establishing pay it forward schemes to facilitating social procurement, the number of entrepreneurs bringing businesses with an ethical focus into every sector and industry is incredible. There are so many success stories and individuals to champion that the challenges faced by social entrepreneurs are often overlooked.

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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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What needs to change for social entrepreneurs and charity leaders to truly make a difference?

An opinion piece by our Founder & CEO, Kirsty Thomson.

How often do social entrepreneurs get asked how much money they are really earning? Do we ever ask if their take home pay is enough to cover their bills?

Who is looking out for their welfare?

More than most start-up support organisations fixate on “social” objectives yet sit back and watch founders take £500 per month in salary. This is something that needs to end for founders who are investing everything in tackling social objectives with no one looking out for them.

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