Coventry University was the first UK University to create a social enterprise spin-out to achieve lasting social value through social entrepreneurship and innovation. Through the range of programmes provided at The Enterprise Hub, CU Social Enterprise CIC support students, alumni, staff and the community wherever they are on their entrepreneurial journeys.
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Social Enterprises in Coventry supported
Members of the community engaged
Social enterprises launched
CU Social Enterprise CIC and The Enterprise Hub offer a series of programmes and opportunities to help foster entrepreneurship, incubate business start-ups and bring your ideas to life. Some of their most recent programmes are:
Launch is an innovative programme of workshops, networking events, training opportunities and competitions. The focus is on solving the world's problems through enabling students across all Coventry University Group campuses to explore their entrepreneurial skills. This year the focus was on Youth Engagement and issues for young people including knife crime, mental health and safety.
Agnes Cheba Ade is a BA Financial Economics student who started her enterprise journey when she attended a Launch ID8 event.
The event showcased the inspiring story of award-winning guest facilitator, Omar Sharif, and gave Agnes the chance to share her own experiences and work with others on solutions to different global issues, including mental health.
“I’ve struggled with mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Although I was afraid to speak about it, the workshop really helped me to open up about my experience and realise that there are so many other people going through the same. It was very liberating and also, a great reminder that even when you hit rock bottom, there’s still light at the end of the tunnel...if you’re willing to see it!
As an international student from a country that is striving to become more industrialised and economically developed, I decided to invest more time on my personal and business development and was thrilled to discover all the courses, events and workshops that CUSE were offering us for free!”
Agnes had an idea to start up a travel agency business that would allow her to use her ambassadorial role as a former Miss World Equatorial Guinea to promote her country internationally and celebrate all the beautiful natural scenery, the beaches, the tropical weather and fruits. In fact, it was the joyful spirit of her people which Agnes knew would make her country a magical travel destination.
“Thanks to CUSE, I am now part of a big impactful community and I’m so grateful to them. I am currently continuing with the coaching sessions and I have to say that it has really helped me to define my business better. I really look forward to seeing the fruits of this seed that CUSE has helped me plant!”
The ConnectMe programme is dedicated to supporting local residents to boost their employability and develop key skills and business acumen.
Participants on the project seek support to overcome a variety of barriers they face when trying to find work. For some it may be a lack confidence or qualifications, while others find the process of searching and applying for work, including building a CV and facing an interview, a daunting prospect. Where English is a second language, the barriers can seem insurmountable.
Interventions include English language workshops, enterprise training, CV building and interview practise. To date, 54 people have received tailored support to overcome the key barriers they face when trying to secure a job. 16 of the participants were successful in finding employment, four started their own businesses and 19 moved on to further education and training.
One of the programme's key partners is Coventry University Social Enterprise (CUSE) who have worked closely with Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC). CRMC refer eligible refugees to CUSE in order to provide personalised support with finding employment. CRMC client, Hannah, originally from the East of Africa, had been looking for work since she secured refugee status in the UK in 2017 from when she joined ConnectMe.
“My ambition has always been to become a dressmaker; I learned the skills from my mother. However, my English language skills and understanding of cultural differences initially made it difficult to access work and integrate into the local community.”
Through ConnectMe, Hannah made excellent progress through regular study and practise, particularly when applying her improved English language skills to her job-search. Building her CV, attending interviews and applying for roles all helped Hannah to eventually secure a full-time job in food preparation.
“While my job is not in my preferred area of work, it is a very important first step. I still practice my dressmaking skills, still write to garment makers, and am actually considering self-employment as an option for the future.
ConnectMe has helped to give me the confidence to apply for work and meet other people. I feel I can be part of the community now”.