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Developing fledgling social enterprises? A study of the support required and means of delivering it

Fergus Lyon (Reader and Principal Consultant at the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University)
Mark Ramsden (Research Fellow at the Department of Geography, Kings College London)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 1 March 2006




To explore what type of support is required by social enterprises, how this is different from mainstream business, what the preferred approaches to learning and working with support providers are, and how the provision of social enterprise support can be co‐ordinated and the capacity of support providers built up.


The study examined the different approaches and indicators used in conventional evaluations of social enterprises. Uses the literature and the views of those delivering support for the pilot projects to identify indicators to include social enterprises’ perceptions of the process of support provision, changes in their operations and behaviour and the extent of constraints faced. Describes the three pilot projects, comprising: Areas of Industrial Decline (Ex‐coalfield areas) pilot project, based on work with 11 eleven existing and 4 pre‐start social enterprises in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, UK, exploring the use of tools developed for conventional micro‐businesses; Black, minority and ethnic fledgling social enterprises pilot project, involving 14 social enterprises in the West Midlands, emphasizing those managed by Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) women; and Rural social enterprise pilot project, which provided advisory support to 14 organizations in Lancashire and Oxfordshire on organization structure, management and legal structures.


The results revealed the importance of meeting those technical skill gaps that are easier to identify plus those that are harder to define (lack of confidence). Concludes that social enterprises may be confused about types of support available, particularly where duplication and competition takes place.


Draws on the author’s official evaluation of three pilot projects that were jointly run by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Home Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).



Lyon, F. and Ramsden, M. (2006), "Developing fledgling social enterprises? A study of the support required and means of delivering it", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 27-41.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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