The DENS Social Enterprises team are honoured to be among a select group of charitable organisations to join the prestigious Enterprise Development Programme (EDP). The programme, which is in its second year, offers grant and learning support to social enterprises looking to diversify their income and become more sustainable.
Having established only in the past couple of years, our Social Enterprise Projects have grown at a tremendous rate. Now offering three unique services – The Bike Project, The Catering Project and The Coffee Project – they provide vulnerable or socially excluded adults the valuable opportunity to develop employability skills in a supportive environment, build confidence and feel part of a caring community.
Ready to take the development of the Social Enterprise Projects to the next level, our team applied to join the EDP’s 2020-2021 scheme. After a rigorous interview process, in which an astounding 177 applicants were whittled down to only 20, we were thrilled to be offered a place on the programme – while also becoming the only member of this year’s EDP running three social enterprises at once.
Describing the selection criteria for the EDP, their Enterprise Development Manager said: “A big part of EDP is around developing sector knowledge of enterprise through sharing our learnings, challenges, and successes. All the organisations on the 2020-2021 programme have been chosen with the understanding that they will fully engage in the programme to help grow wider knowledge.”
As a “beneficiary and fellow of the Enterprise Development Programme,” we have been granted access to an invaluable range of learning and peripatetic support. This covers key topics such as developing trading strategies, financial management, creating a mission-led brand and measuring social impact.
As part of the EDP’s support package, we are also the grateful recipients of a financial grant of £28,000 – which helps towards the expansion of our various enterprise models. This vital funding will cover the cost of additional staffing, work scheduling software and the development of a clear training programme for beneficiaries.
Simon Rapkin, Social Enterprise Coordinator for DENS, said: “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have been selected within such a small group of recipients, and so excited about where this will take our three exciting projects.”
While our Social Enterprise Projects have sadly had to pause their public services due to the current lockdown, the team are still hard at work learning new skills and gaining further experience thanks to the programme. On a weekly basis, the team has been able to virtually access a number of live, member-only learning courses – hosted by expert mentors in sectors such as charity, finance, digital marketing and law.
Further to this, EDP and their partners Homeless Link have introduced our team to another programme offered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and we are now enrolled in additional training and support from them.
Simon added: “So far I have learnt a lot about resilience, endurance, a more measured approach and long term goals – all of which will equal sustainability for our projects and further support that we can offer to our participants.
“Our job is to look around every corner, to learn that in these hard times we can push ourselves and succeed in ways that you could only do during a crisis.”