Evolve social is a flexible entrepreneurial programme created by CU Social Enterprise CIC. Evolve Social assists participants to develop a business idea from concept to start-up. Its interactive sessions engage participants to realise their entrepreneurial potential, offer insights of what it means to be a social entrepreneur and how to create and measure social value.
The taught part of the course covered topics such as market research, pitching, sales and marketing, legal aspects and managing finances. By the end of Evolve Social, each participant developed a business canvas model, cash flow forecast, action plan and a pitch deck.
In addition to the financial reward that successful participants received through this programme, they were also eligible for business mentoring support from an external business consultant, as well as 1-2-1 support from CU Social Enterprise staff. CUSE has completed four cohorts of Evolve Social specially for refugees and migrants with the aim to have 16 Social Enterprises set up from the 42 participants selected to take part. Each cohort was running for four weeks.
Following on from last year’s successful pitch days in Coventry and Wolverhampton, we organised our last two pitch events last month. Participants that had completed the four weeks Evolve Social programme, were pitching to a panel of industry experts.
Due to the popularity of the activity, we saw an increasing number of participants taking up the Evolve Social programme, which resulted in a two-stage judging process. After the shortlisting during the first stage, final pitches were presented to the judging panels in Birmingham and Coventry.
The panel responsible for choosing which business plans received the investment in Birmingham was made up of Director for Business Development for iSE, Simon Veasey; Syrian refugee entrepreneur, business owner and mentor, Omran Al Habbal, as well as experts from CUSE. Each brought a wealth of experience and expertise to the process. The pitching day in Birmingham was broadcasted by BBC West Midlands News.
Coventry’s judging panel consisted of Helen Brewster, business consultant and coach from ATL solutions; Helen Kirkman, Chief Inspector at the West Midlands Police; Peter Barnett, Head of Libraries Advice and Health Information at Coventry City Council and social entrepreneur and owner of Coventry’s Bean and Leaf Coffee House, Alisa Smith.
These are the Social Enterprises that were successful in both cities:
- Patrick Chan, Boogie Taps – Dance business
- Farisai Dzemwa, Way Forward – Creative community arts project
- Alton Fuller, Care Angels Homecare
- Faye Yussuf , Masai Shoe Hub – Shoe Making Business
- Diana Chipara, Qul Language Solutions - Translation
- Madera Malgorzata, Phototherapy for the Deaf
- Sahar Sharifi, Make Up by SaharX – Beauty Services
- Sina Mirzaei, Recycle Hub
In addition to the awardees listed above, musician Wilson Nwanekwu was also offered two days Music Industry consultancy.
Entrepreneurs who have won the MiFriendly Cities investment in previous pitch panels that have taken place in Wolverhampton and Coventry are now busy implementing their socially minded business ideas. Several of these businesses have now been registered as legal enterprises leading to production of goods and services. One is setting up breakfast and afterschool clubs alongside maths tutoring. Another is carrying out PC and phone repairs for low income families. MiFriendly Cities Social Entrepreneur Ali Abdul said: “I was worried because I don’t know anything about this country and I don’t speak good English but with your help I am now on the right way, and soon I will start my own business.”