The first virtual learning programme on social leadership for higher education students in Wales was delivered this month, thanks to a new partnership between Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Social Enterprise Academy Wales (SEA Wales).
SEA Wales – a programme delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre and Creating Enterprise – led an interactive three-day programme to introduce students to the values and purpose of social enterprise; organisational and legal structures for social enterprise; and finance and support for social enterprise.
The programme also gave students the opportunity to speak to experts within their field, including Becky Lythgoe, director of Greenstream Flooring in the Rhondda and Gwyn Roberts, CEO of Galeri in Caernarfon.
11 undergraduate and master’s students from Cardiff Metropolitan University joined the virtual programme from lockdown. In addition to taking part in the social leadership programme, students worked on a 2,000-word assignment to complete an ILM Level 5 in understanding social enterprise.
Entrepreneurship engagement manager at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Steve Aicheler, said: “Entrepreneurs play a vital role in our communities and society, doing so much more than ‘making money’. The opportunity to work with SEA Wales and a group of ethical and community spirited students to help them develop the skills to create new organisations with a clear social purpose was not something we could pass up.”
Maria Elorza Saralegui, third year student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: “I am now more motivated to pursue my own sustainable business. Getting insights from experts and fellow students has made me feel part of a community which I hope will only grow from now onwards. While before I was thinking of becoming a freelancer/sole trader the course has made me dream bigger and aim higher. I want to create a social enterprise owned by its members and governed democratically.
Maria added: “One-to-one mentoring with Gwyn from Galeri was precious; without wanting to sound too cheesy, his feedback on my idea was incredibly motivating.”
Social Enterprise Academy Wales hub manager at the Wales Co-operative Centre, Jocelle Lovell, said: “The biggest challenge for us during lockdown was how do you take the unique SEA methodology designed for practical face to face learning, and adapt it into a virtual setting, that gives students the same peer to peer learning experience.
“Well, we needn’t have worried. The response from the students to the virtual learning programme has been phenomenal, giving them access to an even wider range of mentors and social entrepreneurs than would have been possible previously.”
The Social Enterprise Academy delivers leadership and enterprise programmes that are practical and transformational, helping people use their personal strengths to build sustainable enterprises and achieve greater social impact. It works with partners across Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.