Social Business Wales Conference to put spotlight on co-ops and social enterprises

The event, with keynote speeches and workshops, is being held in north Wales – a region which is becoming 'a hive for innovation and best practice'

Social businesses and co-ops from across Wales gather in October for a one-day conference, with speeches, networking and workshops to inspire growth in the sector.

The Social Business Wales Conference, which is held at Llangollen Pavilion in Denbighshire on 5 October, includes a keynote speech by the Welsh government’s secretary for economy and infrastructure, Ken Skates.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh government, the conference is delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre and is part of the Business Wales service.

Participants will also hear from Alan Mahon of Brewgooder – a craft beer social enterprise donating 100% of its profits to clean water charities. Mr Mahon will talk about how the business has grown by selling nationally through supermarkets.

Brewgooder’s Alan Mahon will share growth tips

And Jo Wolfe of Reason Digital will describe the Third Sector Digital Maturity Matrix, a free tool she has developed which assesses how well a not-for-profit organisation is using digital technology, and its capability to do so.

The conference also includes practical workshops and discussions with contributions North Wales social entrepreneurs, such as: Menna Jones of Antur Waunfawr; Sharon Jones of Creating Enterprise; Kelly Davies of Vi-Ability; Alison Hill of CAIA Park and Ceri Cunnington of Antur Stiniog and GISDA.

Nicola Mehegan, project manager for Social Business Wales at the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “We are delighted to bring the Social Business Wales Conference to north Wales, which is a becoming a real hive for social business innovation and best practice.

“We hope the conference will provide all delegates with inspiration, ideas and practical skills to help them enter new markets, develop new products and adopt new structures – all of them which enable them to grow and be more sustainable. We will be encouraging all our delegates attending, whether they are from a social enterprise, charity or local authority, to use this opportunity to build partnerships with one another and do business.”

The conference will also have an exhibition area showcasing the nation’s top social enterprises and co-ops.

“The social business sector in Wales is redefining how business gets done, supporting over 40,000 paid jobs and over 48,000 volunteers and contributing an estimated £2,37billion to the Welsh economy. We also know that when you buy from them, society profits,” added Ms Mehegan.

The social business sector in Wales has 1,689 organisations including co-ops and mutuals. The latest Mapping the Social Business Sector in Wales’ report confirmed the sector’s continued growth over the past year. Around 84% of social businesses attracted new customers or clients in the last 12 months, whilst 24% attracted investment to expand during the same period. Furthermore, 69% of social businesses expect turnover to increase over the next two to three years.

The Social Business Wales Awards ceremony is held the evening before the conference, to highlight social businesses in Wales which are making a significant economic and social impact. Both events are free and are open to anyone wishing to attend.

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