Tag Archives: social enterprise ambassadors

On the Beanbag #2 – Craig Dearden-Phillips

Following on from our first interview with Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa of Catch 22, next on the beanbag is another social enterprise ambassador, Craig Dearden-Phillips. Craig is best known as the founder and former Chief Executive of the advocacy charity, Speaking Up, as well as being the author of an exceptionally good practical guide to starting a social enterprise. Having left his day-to-day role at Speaking Up following its merger with Advocacy Partners, Craig is now taking up the challenge of helping public sector workers ‘spin-out’ their services into new social enterprises with his new business, Stepping Out.

On the Beanbag #2:

Name: Craig Dearden-Phillips

Social Enterprise’s Name: My new business is called Stepping Out

Website: We don’t have one just yet

Where are you based?: Bury St Edmunds, deepest Suffolk!

What is your annual turnover?: Nil – but about to win first five figure order

How many staff do you employ?: None –  I am working unpaid too

Define ‘social enterprise’ in 50 words or less: `Doing business with an equitable balance between profit and social/environmental outcomes.’

What does you social enterprise do? I don’t fit the official definition but I help to create social enterprises out of parts of the public sector.

Who is your social enterprise for? For everyone who wants or needs better public services

Why did you start your social enterprise? Because I believe with my whole heart that public services can be delivered better, faster and cheaper by social enterprises.

How did you start your social enterprise? Out of my head, in my spare room (where all the great businesses begin)

What is your social enterprise’s greatest achievement? Hopefully winning its first contract in September!

What do you hope will be your social enterprise’s greatest achievement? Changing the public sector forever.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as social entrepreneur? Employing people who just want a job

How do you measure your social impact? By what I see

Why did you start a social enterprise and not a charity? Because I am not doing something charitable

How is your social enterprise a bit like The Big Issue or The Eden Project? Not at all

What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur? The freedom to be about more than just a profit

What’s the worst thing about being a social entrepreneur? People thinking you are full of shite

Where do you get your money from? I am borrowing it

Grants or Loans or Equity? Discuss. Grants are good to get you going or to do something completely new. But they are like heroin and bring you down. Loans are good if you want to stay in control.  Equity is fine as long as there are shared values and agreed expectations

What’s your advice for someone who’s thinking of starting a new social enterprise? Think about the business just as much as the social

If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently? Take on fewer, better people

Which other social entrepreneur/social enterprise do you admire most and why? I admire Peter Holbrook (now at the Social Enterprise Coalition) and the team at Sunlight.  Real achievement.  No egos.  Proper community involvement.  No bullshit

What should the Social Enterprise Coalition do to promote social enterprise? Push our public services potential

Is the Social Enterprise Mark a good thing and why (or why not)? Not sure yet. I think some private businesses that can prove social outcomes should be able to get it

What should politicians do to promote social enterprise? David Cameron should say he wants every public service to be a social enterprise by 2020

Thanks a lot to Craig for doing the interview. Comments on any of the points raised in this interview are, as always, much appreciated. Craig does occasionally read this blog so he may chip in to any discussions that get going.

If you’re a social entrepreneur and you’d like to do an interview, send me an email and I’ll send you the relevant info.

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On the Beanbag #1 – Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, Catch 22

Like an incoming government managing high expectations on a tiny budget, I’m launching a new initiative a day at the moment. Following on from yesterday’s launch of social enterprise book reviews series Beanbags Bookshelf, today sees the first of a hopefully ongoing series of interviews with top social entrepreneurs.

Because this blog is only a small part of my busy day job, most of these interviews are being conducted by email – I send the social entrepreneurs a series of questions to chose from, and they answer the ones they find most interesting or most relevant to what they do. In taking part in On the Beanbag, social entrepreneurs are encouraged to imagine they’re a trendy, central London-based entrepreneur taking a break from their hot desk (whatever that is) to sit on a beanbag and answer the questions.

Fittingly on the day the Social Enterprise Ambassadors hold an event to celebrate the work of the programme (report tomorrow), our first interviewee is one of those Ambassadors – as well being one of the people I admire most in my own field, social enterprise media:

On the Beanbag #1:

Name: Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa

Social Enterprise Name: Catch 22

Website: http://www.catch22mag.com

Where are you based?: Tottenham, London

What is your annual turnover?: 180k

How many staff do you employ?: 5

Define ‘social enterprise’ in 50 words or less: A business with the agenda of making a social impact and addressing a social problem at its core.

What does you social enterprise do? We engage, train and champion excluded young talent (18-30) – i.e. those that want experience and a career within the media industry but can’t get experience due to their lack of experience and social profile…hence our name. We achieve this through our journalism training academy, youth lifestyle magazine and communications agency. These three pillars provide a sturdy bridge into the media industry for diverse talent that would not make it in without our support.

What is your social enterprise’s greatest achievement? Securing partnerships with some of the leading media organisations in the country and also securing our trainees permanent jobs within these organisations.

How is your social enterprise a bit like The Big Issue or The Eden Project? Catch 22 is like the BI because the people it aims to support are built into the fabric of what makes the business work. Like BI we work with a community of individuals that might be deemed as negatives in society “sponging off the government etc”. By working with them we transform a perceived negative into a positive that is contributing to the media industry and society at large.

Why did you start a social enterprise and not a charity? I identified becoming a charity as having some limitations that would compromise us as a creative industry organisation. I felt becoming a social enterprise would provide more flexibility regarding the manner in which we function and do business.

Which other social entrepreneur/social enterprise do you admire most and why? Fifteen was a great inspiration to me when I was getting Catch 22 off the ground (and still is to this day actually!). I think it is amazing the way they can turn around a young person’s life. A true reflection of the nature versus nurture argument.

What’s your advice for someone who’s thinking of starting a new social enterprise? Make sure you have a strong business model as your foundation and not just a cute idea. Without a strong foundation, it’s unlikely your social enterprise will stand the test of time.



Thanks a lot to Tokunbo for this. Comments on any of the points raised in this interview are, as always, much appreciated. The next top social entrepreneur On the Beanbag will be Craig Dearden-Phillips.

If you’re a social entrepreneur and you’d like to do an interview, send me an email and I’ll send you the relevant info.

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