New Vision and Action Plan for Social Enterprise in Wales

New Vision and Action Plan for Social Enterprise in Wales

An ambitious new Vision and Action Plan for social enterprises in Wales was launched on Wednesday 15 July. Introduced by the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters MS, the plan’s vision is to put “social enterprises at the heart of a fairer, more sustainable and more prosperous Wales”.

For the last 2 years, UnLtd has been working directly with the Wales social enterprise stakeholder group to co-ordinate the creation of this important publication. The stakeholder group comprises Antur Waunfawr, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Development Trusts Association for Wales, Social Firms Wales, UnLtd, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Wales Co-operative Centre. All of these organisations are working towards supporting social enterprise in Wales, and each play a different but vital part in growing the sector either through advice, support, and/or direct delivery of services.

So why did we produce this document?

The publication was born out of a conversation on how social enterprises could do much more to tackle some of the very pressing social issues facing Wales. It was about why social enterprise was not at the heart of our economy and future. Clearly, they have never been needed more than now as we deal with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We have more than 2,000 social enterprises in Wales, employing 55,000 people – but as a sector we want to do more. We want to have many more social enterprises, directly tackling some of our biggest issues. And we want these organisations to be strong and robust, and to be able to weather the storms, like the one we are in right now.

We also saw how our sector aligned so well with other emerging policy and legislation in Wales including the ground-breaking Wellbeing of Future Generations Act which puts sustainable development at the heart of of public body decision-making; and also the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act, to name just a few. We want our work to be central to these conversations.

How?

The plan has taken nearly 2 years to produce because we wanted a plan that was ambitious, and would make a difference, and would put social enterprise and social entrepreneurs at the heart of what we do.

We wanted to involve as many people, organisations and ideas as possible. Stakeholder groups, surveys and regional meetings across all 4 corners of Wales have been held, plus discussion at the national Social Business Wales conference at the end of last year.

What’s in it?

Our vision sets a very strong statement of intent:

“Social enterprises will be at the heart of a fairer, more sustainable and more prosperous Wales”.

We want social enterprise to be an integral, and visible, part of everyday life. By 2030, social enterprise will be the business model of choice for people and communities.

We know these are bold statements and we know this vision is ambitious, but Wales is facing changing times. The pace of change has accelerated over recent decades. The Covid-19 pandemic along with demographic change, globalisation, environmental damage and digitisation have all had significant implications for Wales. We know:

  • poverty and deprivation in Wales are worse than the rest of the UK; 1 in 3 children in Wales now live in poverty.
  • a climate emergency is affecting Wales, and of course the rest of the world.
  • many people and communities feel ignored and excluded from decision-making
  • inequalities still exist, and we need to do more in terms of diversity and breaking down the barriers for everyone in Wales to access opportunities

We do not know the full impact of the Coroanvirus pandemic on the social enterprise sector, however we do know it has motivated people and communities to do things differently. We know our young people are our future – so we must capitalise on the fact that more young people want businesses to have a positive impact on society.

Mark Nobury, UnLtd’s CEO supports the plan - “This is exciting - the ambition matching the need, with a clear commitment to influencing/changing the whole of business, public services and communities throughout Wales - fantastic job by the coalition feat”.

Why social enterprise can make a difference

Most of us reading this blog know the answer. Social enterprises can help re-programme and radically transform the economy of Wales. They work in the interests of people and communities. They exist to deliver social, economic and environmental outcomes. Social enterprise empowers communities to come together to address issues that matter to them. 

However, perhaps we can be guilty of talking to ourselves too much. In Wales we recognise we need to do more to make sure everyone understands the potential of what social enterprise can do.

How we are going to take forward the plan

Together in Wales we have created an action plan for 10 years which will enable the sector to rebuild and in the longer term achieve its potential.

We have set 9 high level outcomes:

  1. More people will choose to engage with social enterprises (as customers, employees, volunteers or leaders).
  2. More people will choose a social enterprise model to start a new business.
  3. Policy makers will prioritise social enterprise solutions when considering how to address problems and will create conditions which help social enterprises to thrive.
  4. Social enterprises will be better connected to each other and will speak with a more unified voice.
  5. Social enterprises will play a greater role in climate change and protecting the environment.
  6. Social enterprises adopt Fair Work practices, pay the Living Wage and increase diversity amongst their employees and volunteers.
  7. Social enterprises will be better able to exploit digital technology for social good.
  8. The range and value of finance options tailored to the needs of social enterprises will multiply.
  9. Good quality specialist business support tailored to the needs of the sector will be available to everyone who needs it.

Each of these outcomes are driven by a series of detailed actions and impacts. Each of them will be measured to track if they are progressing and are making a difference. And we will begin to lead on achieving these outcomes straight away.

So what next?

Social enterprise partners in Wales are very conscious of the reality we now operate in. We are in a very serious economic situation, but we do believe we have the right route map for how social enterprise can help lead a sustainable recovery.

We have begun to address the outcomes already – for example, the support sector has stepped up to provide rapid, flexible emergency finance to those who most need it during the current Covid-19 crisis. But we know we need even more input. This is a vision and action plan for social enterprise. It’s up to all of us to make this work. Please do share our vision and commitment to make this ambition a reality.

Download the vision and action plan.(English) (Welsh)

For further information, please contact

Jane Ryall, Social Enterprise Support Manager, UnLtd Wales janeryall@unltd.org.uk @Jane_Ryall

Dr Sarah Evans, Wales Social Enterprise Stakeholder Group sarah.evans@wales.coop @SarahEWalesCoop

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