EcoPro Clean­ing Co Com­mu­nity In­no­va­tion Award

Element - - Sustainable Businesses -

Win­ner: Ak­ina Foun­da­tion

It’s a big job, do­ing good. You don’t want to do it badly. That’s where the Ak­ina Foun­da­tion can help. The foun­da­tion ex­ists to help other so­cial en­ter­prises. It has wrapped a lot of its ex­pe­ri­ence into Launch­pad, a six-month ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme (for which El­e­ment was the me­dia part­ner) that gives peo­ple the skills to turn their ideas into vi­able so­cial en­ter­prises. That won it this year’s Com­mu­nity In­no­va­tion Award. Mar­ket­ing man­ager Ni­cola Young says so­cial en­ter­prises are pur­pose-driven or­gan­i­sa­tions that trade to de­liver so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal change.

“In some ways they have been around for years, in oth­ers it is a grow­ing sec­tor and there is a real ca­pa­bil­ity gap,” she says.

“Launch­pad fo­cuses on high po­ten­tial or­gan­i­sa­tions and puts them through an in­tense ac­cel­er­ated pro­gramme of test­ing their ideas and in­creas­ing the skills of team mem­bers to in­crease their chance of suc­cess.”

It’s a part­ner­ship with the Depart­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs and Con­tact En­ergy, who both pro­vided fund­ing, team mem­bers and men­tors.

Young says so­cial en­ter­prise, like any start-up, has a high chance of not be­ing suc­cess­ful un­less it is ap­proached with a lot of rigour, thought and plan­ning.

“A so­cial en­ter­prise has the head of a busi­ness, the heart of a char­ity and the hands of a com­mu­nity.”

“De­pend­ing on where a so­cial en­ter­prise comes from they might have one of those three more strongly than the oth­ers. Launch­pad fo­cuses very much on the busi­ness part of it.

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