Thirty-five social enterprises from the UK, Netherlands and Belgium met in West Sussex last week as part of a project to help them develop and grow.
Part of the Spark Social Enterprise Project, the ‘Safari Week’ saw businesses take part in activities, speak to other social enterprises in West Sussex, visit the Sussex Innovation Centre in Brighton, and join support sessions to look at how their social enterprises could become even more successful.
Social enterprises are businesses that have an environmental or social mission and that reinvest all or the greater part of their profits to achieve this.
Local organisations that participated included Frame of Mind, Aldingbourne Trust, Food Pioneers and The Base Skate Park.
The Spark Social Enterprise Project includes an accelerator programme, to help established social enterprises to grow, and a programme of support for start-up social enterprises. An Innovation Network is also being developed to help create a community of support and knowledge for social enterprises and support organisations.
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “I’m delighted to have welcomed so many social enterprises from around Europe to West Sussex.
“We know and value the importance of social enterprises in West Sussex – they make a real difference to many local communities. The overall Spark Project will help regional and international social enterprises to network, exchange ideas and embrace innovation and grow. Social enterprises have a lot to offer the economy and this project will help provide invaluable support to them.”
On the first day of the Safari week, the 'kick start' event saw more than 60 organisations, including social enterprises, the Big Issue Investment, Enterprise Europe Network, Coast to Capital and West Sussex based councils, come together to discuss an action plan to promote and support social enterprises and to exchange knowledge and to network.
To keep up to date on the progress of the Spark Social Enterprise project visit www.sparksocialenterprise.eu.
The project is part funded by the Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract No 2S01-043.