New venture as part of global network will boost growth at social enterprise after winning top award

A social enterprise that’s just won a major UK award for its spectacular 300 per cent growth has launched a new commercial venture to help others follow in their footsteps.

Creating Enterprise, a subsidiary of housing association Cartrefi Conwy, has secured the licence to set up innovative Wales-wide learning and development programmes for companies, social enterprises and public bodies.

The Social Enterprise Academy will be using the model trailblazed in Scotland that’s now been replicated across more than a dozen countries as far afield as Canada, China and Australia.

Creating Enterprise, based in Mochdre, near Colwyn Bay, is working in partnership with the Wales Co-operative Centre who will be delivering the programmes in South Wales.

The launch comes on the heels of news that Creating Enterprise was named as the Growth Champion at the NatWest bank’s prestigious SE100 Social Business Awards in London.

Judges were impressed by the organisation’s rapid growth since it was established as a community interest company in 2015.

The most recent accounts show an increase in sales of more than 300 per cent, from £1.3 million to £5.4 million, with profits increasing at the same rate.

As well as maintaining properties, Creating Enterprise helps local people, including Cartrefi Conwy’s tenants, to find employment, training and volunteering opportunities.

All of its commercial profits are reinvested into its highly-successful Employment Academy.

The Social Enterprise Academy is a key part of the organisation’s ambitious growth plan and will also be using its profits for the benefit of Cartrefi Conwy tenants.

Sharon Jones said: “The concept of the Social Enterprise Academy was pioneered in Scotland where it’s been really successful.

“It’s been licenced across the world and we’re very proud to have brought it to Wales for the first time. It’s a big coup for Creating Enterprise.

“It’s essentially learning and development programmes with four key themes which are leadership, enterprise, learning and social impact.

“We’re aiming it at all business sectors right across North Wales. We’ve just gone through a process of finding 11 new facilitators who will be delivering the programmes for the Social Enterprise Academy in Wales.

“The facilitators are leaders in social enterprise and in the business community across North Wales,

“They have a huge amount of experience and are inspiring and transformational leaders, like Menna Jones from Antur Waunfawr who has grown a really successful and sustainable social enterprise in Gwynedd.”

“It’s about people who have walked the walk sharing insights into their success as business leaders.

“It’s about growing yourself as a leader, becoming a more aware and dynamic leader, and the impact that has then on your enterprise, whether that’s a public sector body or a corporate business or a social enterprise.

“We can cater for up to 15 people on each programme which can be anything from one day to 10 days. We can also tailor a programme to meet the particular needs of different organisations.

“There have been brilliant response rates from the programmes that have been running in Scotland and internationally as well

“In Scotland, for example, 93 per cent of those who attended improved their organisation’s ability to be responsive and adaptive to their market place which surely is the most important thing about business.

“Meanwhile, 91 per cent of people who have attended the programme have enhanced staff motivation. More motivated staff are going to be more productive and that’s going to improve the bottom line.”

Among the facilitators is learning and development specialist Gary Straw, of the GDS Consultancy in Dyffryn Ardudwy.

He said: “I think the Social Enterprise Academy and I’m looking forward to helping people to bring their idea to fruition.

“Developing an organisation can feel quite challenging and we will be looking at ways in which we can lever in extra capability and providing an extra insight to find ways to navigate obstacles”

Business consultant Noel Earley, from Connah’s Quay, is another facilitator who has extensive experience working in the retail sector with household names like Iceland Frozen Food.

He said: “One of the real principles of the Social Enterprise Academy is getting people to think about how they do things – with the right help guidance and advice people can succeed

“We’re going to discuss topics and have people bring their real experience. It’s about helping people to chart their own course to future success.”

Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive Andrew Bowden said: “Setting up the Social Enterprise Academy is fantastic news and winning the prestigious NatWest SE award is the icing on the cake.

“We are very proud of what Creating Enterprise has achieved in such a short time scale and further affirms why we decided to create  this subsidiary in the first place to give more opportunity to our tenants , communities and partners we work with now and in the future.“

Neil McLean, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Academy Scotland, said:

“We’re excited to see what the outstanding social enterprises in Welsh communities can show and share with learners we’re working with across the world too.”

Sharon Jones added: “We were proud to win the NatWest SE100 award because it underlines we are going in the right direction as an organisation.

“The market research we have carried out in relation to the Social Enterprise Academy gives us confidence there will be a huge demand for the programmes .

“We have also run some taster days and they have also generated a great deal of interest.

“These are really exciting times because the surpluses generated from the learning and development programmes will go back into Creating Enterprise’s Employment Academy which supports Cartrefi Conwy tenants and people who are out of work in the local community.”

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