Coventry has won national recognition as a thriving centre of social enterprise thanks to the efforts of Coventry University, Coventry City Council and other organisations.
Social Enterprise UK, the national organisation for businesses that have a social or environmental mission, awarded Coventry with its Social Enterprise Place badge last week.
Coventry is the first city in the Midlands to achieve this accolade and it now joins a network of 20 places across the UK that are recognised as hotspots of enterprising, socially aware activities.
The award came about as a result of a successful bid by the Coventry Social Enterprise Forum, established by Coventry University’s community interest subsidiary CU Social Enterprise, and including the University of Warwick, Coventry City Council, Coventry & Warwickshire CDA, Voluntary Action Coventry and a number of social entrepreneurs.
Amongst the wide and varied range of public spirited ventures which helped secure the city’s official social enterprise status, were an ethical clothing retailer, a dealer in specially tailored social care software and a collection of confidence boosting training providers.
Councillor Linda Bigham, Cabinet Member for Community Development, said the announcement was a positive step for the city. She said: “There are many social enterprises in Coventry and as a Council we are really keen to support them. The key is to ensure that these enterprises are sustainable and benefit our community. This announcement is really good news for Coventry.”
With the city now having earned the badge, the forum intends to help these businesses grow as well as supporting the development of new initiatives. The city’s social enterprise steering group will also work with the national body to provide advice to companies, build links with potential funders and increase access to training opportunities.
Keith Jeffrey, director of CU Social Enterprises, said:
“There is strong social enterprise presence in Coventry - we believe there are around two to three hundred operating in the city - so we’re pleased that there is now official recognition for the work going on here.
“There’s more to be done though to make the sector more sustainable and through our forum, key agencies across the city - including both universities - will continue to support and promote social enterprises to improve their connections with the local community and increase their impact.“
Coventry University’s enterprise and international activities - including the work of CU Social Enterprises – has also helped place the institution in the running for honours at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2016.
Coventry is nominated for the ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ title and also shortlisted for the ‘International Collaboration of the Year’ category at the awards, which take place in London later this week.