Fostering a community of social entrepreneurs with networking group

A NEWLY-LAUNCHED networking and support group aims to offer a helping hand to existing social entrepreneurs in the area and those who are considering setting up their own businesses.

Social Enterprise East Sussex has three strands to it; networking, start-up support, and training/consultancy.

The definition of a social enterprise is a business that operates for a social or environmental purpose, where profits are re-invested to further its goals.

The man behind the new group, David Hinton, started his own social enterprise Hastings Works, in Robertson Street, which since opening to the public in April this year, has had nearly 1,000 people through the doors, helped around 70 people into work and a couple of hundred into training.

David said: “I started a social enterprise myself, and in doing that found there was not really a community even though there are a lot of people doing it.

“The bits of support that there are, are varying in helpfulness.”

He sees Social Enterprise East Sussex as something to fill that void, and far from being an organisation with an established structure, he plans for it to grow organically to reflect the needs of the community.

The first networking event in Hastings took place in July, and another event will be held on October 9, 5.30pm to 7pm at a venue to be confirmed.

Anyone interested can find out more and book a place online at www.socialenterprisees.org.uk.

The meeting is informal and open to anyone who runs a social enterprise, is thinking of starting one, or is interested in finding out more about the concept.

The October meeting will also be a chance to find out about East Sussex County Council’s £500,000 Social Business Investment Fund.

David said: “Everybody really likes the idea of being able to get together, and I have had a lot of positive feedback.”

Social Enterprise East Sussex is also working in partnership with UnLtd and Big Local to provide additional support for social entrepreneurs in Big Local areas, which include North-East Hastings.

Support, advice and funding of up to £15,000 is available to people in these areas.

For full details of help and support available to East Sussex social entrepreneurs visit www.socialenterprisees.org.uk.