10-year plan to make social enterprise the preferred option for Wales

‘The time is right for us to start respecting and trusting social enterprises to deliver real positive change in our communities’

An action plan to rebuild and grow the Welsh social enterprise sector has been published today in a bid to make the business model the preferred option for meeting the country’s challenges.

Co-produced by social enterprises and social enterprise support agencies with the support of Welsh government, Transforming Wales through social enterprise is a ten-year plan to drive solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges.

The plan sets out a range of desired outcomes including:

  • more people choosing to engage with social enterprises – as customers, employees, volunteers or leaders
  • social enterprises playing a greater role in tackling climate change and protecting the environment
  • social enterprises better able to exploit digital technology for social good
  • good quality specialist business support, tailored to the needs of the sector, available to everyone who needs it
  • social enterprises better connected to each other and speaking with a more unified voice
  • social enterprises to adopt Fair Work practices, pay the Living Wage and increase diversity among their employees and volunteers.

Menna Jones, CEO of social enterprise Antur Waunfawr and spokesperson for the Social Enterprise stakeholder group for Wales, said: “The resilience and reaction from the social enterprise sector during Covid-19 has been impressive.

“It has shown us the time is right for us to start respecting and trusting social enterprises to deliver real positive change in our communities and take on the social and economic challenges currently facing our country. But to rise to the challenges and exploit the opportunities of the next decade, the sector needs direction and conditions which will help social enterprises to rebuild and thrive.

“How can we create more opportunities for entrepreneurs in Wales to co-create and design solutions to social issues? How can we encourage more local authorities and public bodies to include social enterprises in their supply chain?

“We believe this vision and action plan can be a blueprint for how we transform Wales through social enterprise over the next 10 years, helping people to rebuild from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as addressing the global climate crisis.” 

Lee Waters, deputy minister for economy and transport, said: “Coronavirus is having a severe impact on our economy and the social enterprise sector has a key role in ensuring we not only recover, but build back better. 

“The framework created by the sector rewards behaviours that reflect our values and contributes to a wider common good – this will be important for the fair and sustainable recovery we all want to see. As well as growing the sector, it also means hard-wiring social values and co-operative principles into the DNA of the wider economy.

“If this can be done, then there is huge potential for social enterprises and co-operatives to be the business model of choice over the coming years.”

The vision and action plan is a result of a comprehensive involvement exercise over the last 18 months which included survey work, consultation sessions across Wales and workshops at the national Social Business Wales conference.

The report was produced by the social enterprise stakeholder group comprising of the following organisations:

  • Antur Waunfawr: Provides care, active support, training and meaningful work opportunities to meet the needs of adults with learning disabilities and disadvantaged people locally.
  • Coalfields Regeneration Trust: Dedicated to supporting former mining towns and villages throughout Wales and the UK.
  • Development Trusts Association Wales: The national, practitioner led membership organisation, supporting and promoting the dynamic network of community owned development trusts and community enterprises in Wales.
  • Social Firms Wales: Committed to the creation of employment for disadvantaged people through the development and support of viable Social Firms (one type of social enterprise) across Wales.
  • UnLtd: Finds, funds and supports social entrepreneurs across the UK- enterprising people with solutions that change our society for the better.
  • WCVA: As the national membership body for voluntary organisations in Wales, WCVA exists to enable voluntary organisations to make a bigger difference together. WCVA is also a major funder of the sector, through its Social Investment Cymru grants and loans.
  • Wales Co-operative Centre: An independent co-operative that strengthens and empowers Welsh communities by supporting the growth of co-operatives and social enterprises and delivering projects that provide skills and tackle exclusion.