We are delighted that Exeter City Council are continuing the support for free social enterprise advice for the year ahead.
Through funding from the Council, The Fruit Tree for Business has been providing social enterprise business advice and complementing the activities of Exeter Business Support, which assists the start-up and growth of small commercial businesses and sole traders alongside the Innovation Centre. Exeter’s business support offering covers the needs of private sector , social entrepreneurs, co-operatives and social enterprise.
Since March 2010, the landscape of business support and support for social enterprises has changed radically. Business Link now operates as a website only, further initiatives supporting enterprise (and the 2012 Year of Enterprise by the Government) are primarily website or event based and focus on entrepreneurs and the private sector. RISE, the regional body for social enterprise has wound up and Co-Active, which has provided some of the on-the-ground support through Business Link contracts including some workshops in Exeter, has also ceased trading.
But social enterprise remains high on the government agenda; public services have been encouraged to consider social enterprise as a model for delivery, the Social Value Bill, recently passed, recognises social value as an important aspect of delivery of public services.
According to ‘Fightback Britain – State of Social Enterprise Survey 2011’, social enterprises are:
– Outstripping SMEs for growth – 58% of social enterprises grew last year compared to 28% of SMEs
– Outstripping SMEs in innovations – 55% of social enterprises launched a new product or service last year as opposed to 47% of SMEs
Research investigating the resilience of social enterprises (State of Social Enterprise Survey 2009) found that they perform better than traditional SMEs during recessionary periods.
It puts Exeter, as a city, in a strong position to help drive the local economy forward on all fronts.