Twenty of the region’s newest social enterprises showcased their businesses at a special event to mark Social Saturday 2017.
The annual event aims to raise awareness of the difference that social enterprises – businesses that put people and the planet first – are making in communities around the world. On Saturday, Croydon’s social enterprise marketplace was set up in the Whitgift Centre where the public could find out more about the businesses, buy their products or support their services. Social entrepreneurs at the event included some past members of the council’s SEEK project, a three-year programme that offers intensive support to people who are not in work to help them set up new social enterprises and gain the skills to help them move into employment.
Among the businesses exhibited at the event – which the council ran in partnership with Start Up Croydon, supported by the Croydon Partnership and the Whitgift Centre – were Interconnected Skills and Values, which aims to bring together older people with skills and experiences to pass on to younger generations; DigiWorksUK – which helps unemployed digital IT professionals as well as young people not in education, employment or training (neets) to secure apprenticeships, internships or employment; Includeon – a tech start-up developing a virtual employment platform for remote workers with disabilities, and The Project Dollhouse – which creates a platform for individuals suffering with dementia to awaken their memories through workshops and decorating individual dollhouses.
Deborah Wardle, from The Project Doll House, said: “My father had dementia and I came across the idea for my business when playing with my daughter. I know this would have helped my father. I am passionate about creating a business that offers social value, it is so important to show how to support people with dementia and that is what my business does.”
The event marked the half-way point of Croydon Business Month – a programme of events taking place throughout October to support and help develop Croydon businesses and SMEs.
Councillor Mark Watson, Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs, said: “Social Saturday was a fantastic event that reminded us that social enterprises are redefining how business can be done. Buying from a social enterprise or using their service benefits more than just one person – society as a whole profits and I’m delighted we were able to celebrate and promote some of our local social enterprises.”
David Robinson, Chairman of StartUp Croydon, added: “Our social enterprise programme has, in the last year, assisted 12 people who are not in work to bring about positive change for the benefit of themselves and the Croydon community. We are really excited to be part of Croydon Business Month and especially to be involved in Social Saturday, which was a great event where we were able to celebrate businesses that trade for social good.”