Last night's inspirational graduation event for the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) 2014/2015 Fellowship Programme was the perfect end to a very special couple of weeks in the history of our partnership
The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) supports individuals to set up businesses with a social purpose. Social entrepreneurs who enrol in an SSE programme learn how to transform their talent and passion into commercially sustainable solutions to poverty and disadvantage.
Last night (18 February 2015), I attended the graduation event for the 2014/2015 Fellowship programme. Seventeen individuals were graduating from the nine-month course that focused on building their skills, knowledge and confidence to help ensure the success of their business. RSA had sponsored seven of the graduating students as well as providing them each with a business mentor.
Each of the graduating entrepreneurs had a fascinating story to tell. We heard about their progress in setting up their business and how, despite the inevitable ups and downs, their passion and determination to succeed was even stronger than when we first met them at the programme induction.
Of course, all entrepreneurs need passion and determination to succeed, but what makes social entrepreneurs so inspiring to me is that they have seen a problem in their local community and done something about it. They have chosen to make big changes to their own lives - in many cases taking significant risks - to set up enterprises that support the community they're so committed to.
Among the businesses set up by this year's graduates are enterprises that provide innovative psychological services for children, arts and numeracy education in schools, employability and motivational workshops for young people and pop-up language cafes.
We wish them all every success and will follow their progress with genuine interest and pride.
An award winning partnership
RSA's partnership with SSE is one that we're particularly proud of. Through it, our employees have the opportunity to work with a fantastic charity and learn about and support the growth of local social enterprise. As a business, RSA gains from opportunities to inspire and develop employees, as well as enhancing our strategic focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
That made winning the award for best Corporate Social Responsibility initiative at the CII Public Interest Awards last Thursday so special - this photo shows our clear delight!
And there's more to come!
Soon, we'll start the process of selecting seven new social entrepreneurs to support through SSE's Fellowship programme.
We're looking forward to the launch of a series of films by SSE (sponsored by RSA) later this year. The films share lessons from successful social entrepreneurs. Follow us on @rsagroup (Twitter) or Facebook for film release dates throughout 2015.
And finally, following the success of last year's Introduction to Risk workshop, our SME team will be back with workshops designed to help social entrepreneurs identify and mange risk.
For more information about any of these initiatives, don't hesitate to get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org.