Applications open for the next cohort of The Circle Academy

The Circle Academy is an intensive learning programme that provides a mixture of expert led sessions, exclusive online content including The Academy Manual, one to one practical learning and expert consultancy time to help you deliver a well researched and credible business plan, cash flow and marketing plan worthy of investment.

Over 12 weeks, it covers 12 key elements of running a More Than Profit business including entrepreneurial mindset, business planning, legal structure, governance, finance, marketing, sales and selling, teams and culture, social impact, funding and pitching.

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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’.

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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 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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Case Study – Caledonia Housing Association

In March 2019 we were approached by Caledonia Housing Association to deliver consultancy services. Our consultancy team, Kirsty and Jenny, met with Maureen Menzies, Home Help Coordinator and Gill Donoghue, Head of Support Services who informed us that they were looking for someone to help inspire and motivate their Home Help staff to become more enterprising and autonomous within their roles. Caledonia were looking at changing the way they ran the Home Help Service to improve it for the benefit of their clients, staff and the organisation as a whole. Maureen and Gill asked us to run a course of training sessions for some of the staff and to support them to collate their ideas on how to change their service for the better.

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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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Come volunteer at our Community Café – 3 roles available

The Circle Café provides Living Wage employment and training for one year to looked-after young people and care leavers. We run this in partnership with Barnardo’s Works, Leisure and Culture Dundee and Dundee City Council. It has been funded by the Community Lottery Fund.

Based at Staffa Place, in the Strathmartine Ward, The Circle is a community hub and offers affordable space to charities, social enterprises and small businesses. We support organisations with a More Than Profit approach to become sustainable and make a social impact. Our other services are offices, room bookings, consultancy and The Circle Academy.

The Circle Café currently employs a Café Manager, Café Supervisor and one Young Start Trainee.

Since opening, The Circle Café has had steady attendance over lunchtime and has a growing list of corporate clients who order buffets. In order to continue their growth and support the trainees appropriately, we are looking for volunteers to help us.

Volunteer posts

  • Cooking in the café and serving to our tenants and visitors during our opening times.  Experience is preferred and help is needed from 9am to 2pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Administration – diary and bookings, orders and email communications. Volunteers are welcome from 9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Promotion – delivering menus and flyers to businesses in Dundee. Can do this at any time but direction and materials provided from 9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Mileage paid, if applicable.

If you are interested in volunteering please call 01382 699990 or email reception@thecircledundee.org.uk

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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I don’t work for a start-up. Can I join The Circle Academy? – Enterprise training for staff

Leaders of organisations are increasingly looking for their staff team to be entrepreneurial. Public sector cuts are commonplace and demands on services are increasing. Having to offer more services with less resources in place is a common theme in the Public and Third Sectors and embedding entrepreneurial thinking is essential to get organisations on track.

A cut in grant funding or the loss of a key contract would be catastrophic to many organisations providing essential services to the most vulnerable in our communities. Older people, people living with disabilities, minority groups, those struggling with their mental or physical health, people living in poverty and children are most likely to be adversely affected by the failure of public and third sector organisations. We need to ensure that the vital organisations doing this work and the teams working within them are properly supported.

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