Oldham Social Enterprise Network keep to stop starting-up from becoming a lonely business

Date published: 10 February 2024

A Royton conference heard how everything from raising capital to keeping proper books could be a lonely bind that stopped some of Britain’s most vital social enterprises in their tracks.

Visitors to Upturn’s Social Enterprise Lounge shared how there had been no one there in the past to help them establish, grow, and maintain a business - that ploughed its profits back into the community.

But thankfully in our borough that situation has changed - thanks to Upturn’s growing network which is connecting budding businesses and administering a healthy dose of TLC - which even includes finding suitable access to finance, business coaching and finding local employees.

Arif Mohid’s private tutoring business was just one of those social enterprises that has grown thanks to Upturn.

Beginning as a classroom at the back of a butchers with tables resting on tins of beans, Aim High Private Tuition now teaches 300 children at a time.

And in an inspirational speech, Arif revealed that: “When I came out of full-time teaching to progress my business, it was a lonely world.

"But I realised that you have to be accountable and do what you promised to do.

"My advice to everyone is, “get a mentor, and make sure you speak to them every week.”

Adama Kaba is at the beginning of her community enterprise trek, as she develops a new skin cream made from natural ingredients shipped from West Africa.

Getting her product ‘Wo-maama’ off the ground has been difficult though, because of prohibitive postage costs and difficulties setting up a bank account.

Adama has been grateful for Upturn’s support though, with a grant ensuring she could at least get her ingredients transported and labels for jars printed.

“I just couldn’t have started without them” she said, “and that help is continuing.

"But like everyone else who runs their own business, I do want to do this myself.”

Anwar Ali OBE, Oldham’s Social Enterprise Business Ambassador and co-founder at Upturn, opened the conference by saying: “We all have a super-hero complex inside us but without support it is difficult to be a social entrepreneur.

"We are encouraging all social enterprises in Oldham to sign-up to our new network, which will be your network, your space.

"It will allow us to say to each other, “I have a problem here, can you help?"

"It will give us a collective voice and enable us to say to those in procurement “if you want the work done come to us in Oldham".

"We can work with you providing services that not only brings about positive change in our communities, but providing real alternative to the status quo putting the people, communities, and businesses at the heart of working together to solves many of the problems we are facing today.”

The Social Enterprise Lounge was held at the Khau Galli restaurant in Royton and was an informal way for social enterprises to discuss issues, make contacts and create a network that will make a difference.

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