Launched in Scotland in 2004, Social Enterprise Academy have helped over 18,000 learners to develop themselves and their organisations to create sustainable businesses and have greater social impact. Their programmes support organisations at all stages of development and focus on; leadership, entrepreneurship, social impact measurement, and personal development.
Since 2016, Social Enterprise Academy have been replicating internationally and now have 60 staff members in 14 countries around the world supporting social enterprise development in their communities.
We asked the team what an average day looked like: “There really is no typical week. Our programmes are incredibly diverse. They respond to client needs, so they happen where, when and how will suit the learners best. In Scotland alone, we could have a programme to support a development trust on a tiny island, or a social enterprise with hundreds of employees to restructure. We might be working with young people who are not in work, supervisors or projects leads, CEOs or trustees. But whatever the programme, it’s the same high quality facilitators, always social enterprise practitioners, who share their own experiences and enable all learners to do likewise, creating space to have experiences, reflect, think and plan. That much does not change.”
The introduction of lockdown back in March meant that Social Enterprise Academy had to re-align their work. The pandemic means Social Enterprise Academy are now navigating what they have coined as a “VUCA” world – one which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The team has been focusing on upskilling their international network of teams and facilitators to deliver the learning programmes online. Not only are they learning new technologies and tools, they are having to relearn some of the basics of facilitation – how to connect with learners, how to manage group conversations, how to read body language, how to create safety in the room.
We asked the team how their service users had responded to the changes in service delivery.
“We’ve had really positive feedback to our learning moving online. Some of our regular clients have specifically said the experience was as good and inspirational as ‘in the room’ learning. We’ve taken great care to use the right platform, the right activities, right materials, format and so on.”
One of the biggest challenges facing Social Enterprise Academy is that the anticipated longer term social distancing measures that are likely to be in place for some time to come, mean that face to face delivery is no longer possible. Also, understandably, many of their partners within the Third Sector are now unable to pay for their learning and development as a result of the pandemic, so the team have had to find a way to deliver fully funded programmes.
If you would like to hear more about Social Enterprise Academy, you can visit their website or drop them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Equally you can follow them on Twitter (@SocEntAcademy) and Facebook.