Working at iSE: Just Another Day at the Office?

Emma Forrester is a consultant at the Brum-based Institute for Social Enterprise. In this piece she outlines the variety her job brings and the booming social enterprise sector in the city.

As a social enterprise consultant at iSE, work life is varied. A typical morning starts with checking emails with a pot of coffee before meeting a client, perhaps working on a business plan, running a workshop or providing support with a funding bid or tender.

This morning it’s over to our Women’s Enterprise Hub in Sparkbrook where we’re celebrating the graduation of the women enrolled on our FUSE programme, a business accelerator for women starting out in enterprise.

We’ve been supporting this particular group of women for three months, working on their business model, marketing strategy, finances, and developing their confidence through workshops and mentoring. Today is an opportunity for them to present their business plan and receive feedback from peers. It’s great to see how their ideas have grown over the programme and the businesses are all so inspiring –  from Birmingham’s only boat hotel to a conceptual designer and a Muslim marriage project and Muslim business network.

We complete the session with a shared lunch then it’s back to the iSE Digbeth office for a planning meeting with the rest of the team. Today we’re talking about CITYDRIVE, iSE’s week-long programme of activities and workshops to promote Birmingham’s vibrant social enterprise sector. I’m excited to be developing several events with some social entrepreneurs doing great things in the city, including a problem-solving roundtable for new-starts at Evolve and a social enterprise food market with Miss Macaroon.

Next, it’s a short drive to Smethwick where I’m meeting with SAFS, a charity providing disability services to children, young people and adults.  We’re supporting SAFS through USE-IT, an ERDF-funded project developing community-rooted solutions in West Birmingham. SAFS have a pretty impressive community space with lots of potential – it’s my job to understand the needs of the local community and develop new ideas to maximise building usage for SAFS. I also get to meet with two Birmingham University students on placement who have done some impressive work mapping the local area.

Finally, it’s back to the Women’s Enterprise Hub to catch up on emails and make a few phone calls for CITYDRIVE, before packing away and heading home.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about how iSE supports social enterprise start-up’s across Birmingham. | 0121 441 1711 |

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