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Mayor backs Social Economy Drive 2023

Published: Tuesday 07 Nov 2023

The Mayor of the West Midlands is supporting a week of events being held to showcase the region’s social enterprise sector.

Starting on Monday 13th November, the Social Economy Drive will bring together voluntary community and social enterprise organisations (VCSE), commissioners, public and private sector, and entrepreneurs who are passionate about growing the regional social economy.

Throughout the week there will be workshops, networking, conferences, roundtables and expert knowledge-exchange collaborations.

The social economy is the collective term for social enterprises, co-operatives, community-owned and employee-owned businesses set up to generate income to address social and environmental issues.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is investing £2million of Commonwealth Games legacy money as the first phase of its commitment to deliver on a key recommendation from its Social Economy Taskforce to help double the size of the social economy over a decade.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Our region’s social economy is a relatively unknown but thriving sector made up of a diverse range of enterprises that collectively make a remarkable contribution to society. We’re home to around 11,000 social economy organisations directly impacting on over a quarter of a million people - as employees, volunteers or as beneficiaries. They contribute £3.5 billion a year to our region’s economy.

“The Social Economy Drive is just one of several actions that the WMCA is happy to work with Power to Change to support - raising awareness of this important part of the economy.

“Chiming with the themes of National Social Enterprise Day, we should see opportunities emerge for social enterprise to contribute to the supply chain - one of the best ways to support the social economy. I look forward to seeing the social economy continue to go from strength to strength in the months and years ahead.”

Zel Mason, chief executive of iSE CIC, which is organising the Social Economy Drive, said: " Through the diverse and vibrant programme for Social Economy Drive 2023, businesses and the community will be able to connect with like-minded individuals, explore the latest trends in social impact, and spark new ideas for a better, more sustainable future."

iSE will bring together regional partners from all seven WMCA localities for the event. These include Coventry & Warwickshire CDA, Provision House (Dudley), Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations, Warwickshire & Solihull Community and Voluntary Action, One Walsall and Access 2 Business (Wolverhampton).

A flagship event will be hosted on Thursday 16th November 2023 - International Social Enterprise Day - by the Department for Transport, and organised by BSSEC CIC. This will be in the form of a VCSE ‘Meet The Buyer’ procurement event to strengthen local supply chains, increase localised social impact and support the growth of the regional social economy by engaging with a greater number of trading community and social businesses.

The Department of Transport alone spends £24 billion a year in their supply chain, and will be joined by HS2 Ltd, Network Rail, National Highways and includes influential speakers, including the Mayor, Claire Dove CBE, VCSE Crown Representative, and Paul Rodgers, Department for Transport Group Commercial Director and Government Commercial Function Leadership Group SME sponsor.

Claire Dove CBE, VCSE Crown Representative, says, "I'm delighted to attend the Department of Transport's first Meet the Buyer event. Engaging with and promoting supply chain opportunities to charities and social enterprises is a key to achieving the ambitions I've set out in my role of Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Crown Representative, to ensure there is increased recognition of the great work they do whilst tapping into the additional social benefits that can be achieved by engaging them in government supply chains."

Natalie White, portfolio manager at Power to Change as the key supporter for Social Economy Drive 2023, says, “From saving local shops and creating leisure facilities to providing training opportunities for local people and helping to build affordable housing, across the West Midlands community businesses are making places better. This year Power to Change are thrilled to be supporting the Social Economy Drive, a brilliant opportunity to connect with community businesses, celebrate their work, and envision how growing this sector can unlock positive change in communities across the region.”

The WMCA's Commonwealth Games legacy funding will pay for business development experts to work with leaders of the social economy to further develop the skills and confidence they need to grow their businesses and to widen their impact.

Seed funding will also be provided to ‘clusters’ of social businesses in each of the WMCA’s seven constituent council areas to develop plans that identify specific projects to improve the local area and be used as a basis to bring in further investment.

Find out more about this support on the social economy pages of the WMCA website.

Find out more about the Social Economy Drive 2023 on the website.

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