On Social Enterprise Day (19th November 2020), Business News Wales brought together prominent figures from Welsh social businesses and the City Regions – exploring the opportunities to embrace a range of social enterprises capable of delivering sustainable employment, inclusive growth and greater social equity to local economies and communities.
Alwen Williams, Portfolio Director of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, shared her views on the importance of developing social enterprises in the North Wales region …
Social Enterprises represent 1.5% of North Wales Businesses and as a result, contribute to almost 5% to the economic output of the region. They provide value to our local communities and play an important role in North Wales. At the North Wales EAB, we are conscious of working with Social Enterprises due to the significance of their role and in creating an equal place for commercial and social enterprises within our area.
“We choose social enterprises when they’re the right business partner”
The current pandemic has highlighted the many advantages that Social Enterprises provide our region. Advantages such as creating a foundational economy, keeping supply chains local and Community Wealth Building strong and delivering the goals and social purposes of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (FGA). One of the Social Enterprises that we have been working with is Menter Môn, who will be delivering one of the Programmes within the North Wales Growth Deal. They are, with certainty, the right Enterprise to deliver this Programme in developing North Wales.
“There’s an equal place for social and commercial enterprises in our economy”
There is a need to create a better understanding of Social Enterprises and the benefits that they bring to our region. The ‘profit' of Social Enterprises is invested back into communities, which perpetuates local wealth and provides employment opportunities, which is of significant benefit to vulnerable and rural communities in the region.
“We need to build a stronger understanding of what social enterprises are and what they can offer”
Social Enterprises also retain local talent within the area and encourages inclusive growth. Recent findings show that the majority of Social Enterprise employees live within 10 miles of their workplace, which is of great value to communities as it provides a local employment opportunity.
By retaining local high-value employment opportunities, positively impacting the environment, supporting local wealth, providing social opportunities and delivering Wellbeing and the FGA, Social Enterprises create a business ecosystem that thrives.
We certainly need to inspire future generations and help them realise that there are opportunities to create wealth within their communities through the entrepreneurship that we see through social enterprises.
“It all comes together as an ecosystem that just makes sense”
With the North Wales Growth Deal quickly progressing, we’re hopeful of wider inclusions of Social Enterprises in future. The North Wales Heads of Terms Agreement was signed back in November 2019 and are aiming to sign the Final Deal next week, on the 17th of December. We are hopeful that we can become a part of the business ecosystem that Social Enterprises provide and by doing so, improve our understanding of the procurement process. Ensuring that we create a competitive and fair environment is key to gaining contracts and supporting the local economy.
“We need a competitive but fair procurement environment that keeps the pound in the local economy”
“This is at the heart of our strategy for North Wales. We want to invest the Growth Deal funds in a way that creates sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Part of achieving this will involve keeping investment as local and as close to the community as possible. I think it’s significant that North Wales has over the past few years seen an unbelievably fast growth in social enterprises that outweighs the growth in other regions – and that demonstrates how important they are to helping us achieve the North Wales Economic Ambition.”