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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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. 

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The Circle Academy secures funding for its 2020 cohorts

The Circle has received funding to support the delivery of The Circle Academy to a second cohort of aspiring ‘More Than Profit’ leaders. Funding has been contributed from The Rank Foundation as well as the George and Grace Thomson Fund. In addition to this, the candidates will also have the chance to pitch for up to £5,000 through national funders, UnLtd Scotland.

The Academy is a 12-week training programme for those interested in running an organisation with a ‘More than Profit’ approach. Individuals will benefit from 12 weeks of intensive training covering essential topics; mindset, business model, finance, legal, governance, people, social impact and sustainability through multiple income streams.  

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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. 

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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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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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Pros and Cons of The Circle Academy

We know that if you are starting a More Than Profit business you will be faced with several programmes that could support. We want to be clear about how The Circle Academy compares. We have put together a list of pros and cons, so you can choose the best programme for you.

Pros

The Circle Academy is delivered by people who have owned their own businesses. They understand the personal and professional challenges you will face and draw on their own experiences.

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Job Opportunity – Academy Manager

Academy Manager

Location –The Circle, 4 – 6 Staffa Place, Dundee, DD2 3SX

Hours –Full time (35 hours per week)

Salary –£25,000 – £30,000 dependant on experience

Introduction

The Circle is an award-winning Social Enterprise in Dundee. Recognised for their social impact, The Circle is a business and community hub and is home to 17 organisations ranging from small private businesses to national charities. With big ambitions for 2019, The Circle is seeking a commercially aware and professional Academy Manager to join their team and take the lead on developing the programme within the organisation. An exciting opportunity to join the motivated team of one of Dundee’s most thriving new Social Enterprises.

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