British Council and Community Business join hands to build local social enterprise capacity via the UK-HK exchange
Creating international opportunities for people of the UK and Hong Kong, The British Council has launched the Skills for Social Entrepreneurs programme since 2009, a global programme rolled out in 14 countries providing social entrepreneurs, NGO practitioners, and community leaders with skills training and access to UK expertise. Locally in Hong Kong the British Council partners with Community Business, a non-profit dedicated to advancing corporate social responsibility in Hong Kong and Asia, to organise capacity building initiatives for social enterprises in Hong Kong. There are two main components in this partnership, including business skill-trainings by seasoned professionals from the corporate sector and best practice sharing by successful social entrepreneurs from the UK.
Since April 2013, the capacity building initiative has been exposed to over 120 social entrepreneurs in Hong Kong and supported by 21 professionals from 15 companies through business skill-trainings and five leaders from the UK social enterprise sector. While building capacity of the social enterprises in Hong Kong, the initiative also provides a platform for skills-based employee volunteering from the corporate sector.
“We believe local social enterprises have the potential to significantly impact Hong Kong,” commented Susan Tse, Director Programmes at the British Council, “and by facilitating best practice exchange from the UK, currently has 70,000 social enterprises employing an estimate of 1 million people, this programme has allowed us to continue the dialogue between the two markets, with the aim of raising awareness of the sector, sharing critical learning and inspiring social innovation. The exchange also builds connections amongst like-minded social entrepreneurs between the two markets.”
“We are delighted to continue to work with British Council to deliver this meaningful project,” said Robin Bishop, Corporate Responsibility Director at Community Business. “A large number of social entrepreneurs with great ideas tackling different specific social problems lack the experience and skills required to run a successful business. At the same time the corporate sector is always looking for opportunities to invest in the community in a cost-effective and impactful way. This programme is designed to help fill the gaps of knowledge and expertise that these entrepreneursmight be facing in order to help their organisations progress to the next level, and at the same time provides a skill-based employee volunteering opportunities to corporates.”
Currently Jessica Cordingly, Founder of Future First and Ventures OutreachManager of UnLtdfrom the UK is in Hong Kong this week doing workshops for and taking part in forums with Hong Kong social entrepreneurs.
The other four guests from the UK , invited by the British Council to Hong Kong recently shared their expertise with local social entrepreneurs’ include Dave Miller, Co-Director of Bikeworks, Kelvin Cheung, Founder of FoodCycleand CEO of UnLtd Hong Kong, Jeremy Nicholls, Chief Executive, Social Return of Investment, and Penny Newman, Member of the Advisory Body at Office of Civil Society.
In the past few months, this programme has delivered skill trainings and workshops covering a wide spectrum of topics that will help enable social entrepreneurs to build a sustainable business. These topics included sales & marketing, public relations, finance management, human resources and talent development, as well as macro-level trainings on setting a clear mission, operational execution and excellence, strategy creation, monitoring progress and measuring results and governance.
According to the UK Cabinet Office, social enterprises in the UK are estimated to have a total annual income of £163 billion a year and contribute £55 billion to the economy in Gross Value Added in 2013. There are around 400 social enterprises in Hong Kong, 60% of which are operated by non-profit organisations, 39% by registered companies and 1% by co-operatives.