A new ‘start-up toolkit’ aimed at stimulating social businesses in Ards has been launched.
Commissioned by Ards Borough Council and developed by Ards Business Centre, the new toolkit brings together information and advice about setting up a social enterprise, explaining how to get started, about research and business planning, skills analysis, marketing and finance.
Social enterprises are viable businesses that trade like any other, except they have a social or environmental aim, which can be anything from job creation and training to providing local services. Their focus is not exclusively on profit-making, but on bringing people and communities together for economic development and social gain.
Explaining why the Council funded the development of the toolkit, Alderman Robert Gibson, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, said: “Lots of people have ideas for businesses, but while the principles of business start-up may be common to a private company and a social enterprise, the motivations for that start-up will not be the same.
“This toolkit is designed specifically for those who can identify a need for goods or services, but with a social aim attached. I’m very pleased that the Council has been able to address a gap in business start-up advice and hope toolkit will not only prove useful to those already thinking about social enterprise, but also inspire others to consider the option”.
Nichola Lockhart, Chief Executive of Ards Business Centre, said: “The Social Enterprise Programme will provide support and assistance to individuals and groups wishing to explore social enterprise and to help them identify new ideas, develop their plans and launch new social enterprises in the Ards Borough. Individuals considering establishing a social enterprise, community and voluntary groups, charitable organisations and co-operatives are eligible to apply for assistance. Depending on your current position, tailored support will be given on the various aspects of social enterprise”.
Several local businesses are already operating as social enterprises around the Borough and positively impacting the Ards community.
Annemarie Hastings, Project Manager at Daisies Café, a social enterprise located on the Ards hospital site, explained how her business helps people with disabilities develop basic skills. “Acceptcare (Social Firms Ltd) trading as Daisies Café provides catering training in a supported environment to people with learning disability and or mental ill health issues. Clients and staff are given the opportunity to develop essential social and life skills necessary for the workplace.
“Our ultimate objective is for the well-being of society offering an alternative form of day care. We are a well-established social firm in the community at large. Therefore we would hope to inspire other businesses wishing to embark upon the new start up tool kit and also to help provide for sustainable employment within our community.”
The Social Enterprise Starter Toolkit is available from www.ards-council.gov.uk.