How having a social enterprise can help businesses win public works

Having social enterprise as part of your business can make a big difference when bidding on government contracts under the terms of the social value model. Alan Boyce of Thrive looks at a social enterprise that makes a big impact while boosting its parent company’s appeal to contracting parties.

An ambitious social enterprise, spun off from a locally based waste management company, is rolling out its big plans with amazing results in local job creation and employability.

Kenny Waste Management Social Enterprise Ltd Driving Change (Driving Change) is a rare example of a social enterprise that aims to work nationally and locally. It’s about helping people from backgrounds that cause them to struggle to find work in order to gain the skills, experience, motivation and opportunities they need to succeed.

Driving Change was started by one of Thrive’s clients – Kenny Waste Management – so we decided to dig a little deeper into their success story, to inspire and guide other companies who might be considering starting their own social business. .

Social enterprises are commercially run businesses that aim to make a profit. Where they differ from an ordinary business is in their guiding purpose and in the use of profits made. In short, social enterprises have a clear social or environmental mission, are genuinely independent, derive at least half of their income from trade, are audited in the interest of their mission, reinvest at least half of any profit made to support this objective and are transparent about all operations and their impact.

The vast majority of social enterprises are very small and very local in their activities. Driving Change, Kenny Waste Management’s social enterprise, exists to strategically address the inequalities that exist for those furthest from meaningful employment. Based in Greater Manchester, the company has a long and proud history of being a company that, as Driving Change director Alex Mayes says, has “always done the right thing”.

In addition to strong environmental credentials (Kenny Waste Management recycles or recovers over 99% of the waste it processes), the company has always tried to look beyond the factors that can keep people from working and focusing on what they have to offer. So in 2018, Kenny Waste Management established Driving Change as a social enterprise dedicated to helping people from traditionally “hard to employ” groups develop the skills and experiences they need to find fulfilling work at home. long term, both locally and nationally.

How change management drives change

Driving Change has a two-part objective – “To provide waste management and related services to create employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged adults in the labor market”. To deliver the first part, Driving Change uses the resources of its parent company. Indeed, the waste management work won by Driving Change is subcontracted to Kenny Waste Management. Driving Change also wants to develop its own independent revenue streams and is currently working on plans to build and sell dumpsters.

As for the delivery of the second part, Driving Change offers three programs. Turning Points creates internships, experiences, job shadowing and trials in the waste management industry. Evolving Horizons offers training and mentoring workshops to help people obtain the relevant qualifications. Operation Basecamp reaches out to education and the wider community to raise awareness of available career options and to share industry experiences.

Together, these three strands embody a comprehensive ‘theory of change’ which has been developed in collaboration with Kenny Waste Management’s charity partner, the Salford Foundation. This provides a framework for planning, achieving and measuring progress across all Driving Change goals.

But it is at the individual human level that the impact of Driving Change is most profound. Take the case of Paul. At 50, after 30 years of driving a taxi, Driving Change helped him to retrain as a truck driver. Or former delinquent Lee. After struggling to find work, he contacted Kenny Waste Management as a company that “looks beyond the labels”. Today, he is responsible for waste compliance. “A secure job means much more than an income. It’s about being part of a community and being able to live a life outside of work that you love,” says Lee.

There’s also law student Lydia. After completing an internship in 2021, she was asked to help diversify Driving Change’s board, becoming a non-executive director. These are just some of the people whose lives have been impacted by Driving Change, along with many others who have been helped to obtain an accredited qualification, given career advice and support, given the opportunity track a job and more.

What your social enterprise would do won’t be the same as what Driving Change does, but their story shows how broad and deep the impact of organizations that value social benefits embedded in their DNA can be.

Why create a social enterprise?

In addition to helping create employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged parts of the community, Driving Change also generates significant benefits for its parent company. More and more procurement policies stipulate either the direct involvement of social enterprises in projects or require high levels of commitment, delivery and proof of social value. So having a social enterprise as part of their overall offering makes Kenny Waste Management very attractive as a supply chain partner.

Customers can rest assured that money spent with Driving Change is earmarked for providing benefits. They are also assured of a high level of transparency and careful attention to measuring and quantifying impact in delivery. And, the involvement of a social enterprise in the supply chain of a project can be presented as contributing to social value under the “Addressing Economic Inequalities” pillar of the social value model.

At a time when companies can suffer serious reputational damage if they are shown not to live up to the values ​​they stand for, companies working with Driving Change can be sure that they will not be vulnerable to accusations of “social washing” around waste management. and elimination.

In addition to helping Kenny Waste Management demonstrate its business ethics, Driving Change benefits the group in other ways. It builds close relationships with organizations that share similar social goals to work on mutually beneficial community projects – Tier 1 contractors Kier Group, for example. By training people on the job in waste disposal, Driving Change is also helping to address the skills shortage in the industry, which in turn helps Kenny Waste Management attract talent. Increasingly, candidates want to work with an ethical company with a broader social or environmental purpose.

Good business sense and doing the right thing

For Kenny Waste Management, running a social enterprise isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also good business sense. Driving Change’s next step is to broaden its reach and deepen its impact. In 2022, they will set up a grant program allowing other SMEs to access funds to exploit the potential of their own teams.

By setting up a grant scheme, says Alex Mayes, Driving Change will be able to provide training to address skills shortages across the UK in areas where businesses have an immediate need for qualified staff. Additionally, social enterprise aims to influence other enterprises to ensure that all pay the real living wage. It sets an example in this regard, already paying it to all its non-apprentice employees.

Many people believe that social enterprises hold the key to changing the face of the economy and bringing leveling across the country. And, with over 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing two million people and contributing £60billion a year to the economy, they might just be right.

For more information on how social enterprises can help your business, contact the Thrive team.

Alan Boyce is a senior researcher at online software platform and consulting firm Thrive.

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