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Starting up a Social Enterprise Takes Passion and Innovation

Tue, 20 May 2014

Contributed by Shell LiveWIRE alumna and 4Lunch founder, Amy Win
Social entrepreneurship is about tackling a societal or environmental issue, whilst delivering a product/service to meet a gap in the market, creating something people want to buy. 
With social enterprise, there is a higher purpose for your business beyond profit margins, and this is why I feel so passionate about this often overlooked sector. 

4Lunch was founded on the belief that everybody can understand and enjoy good food, and that food based activities can improve employability. Cooking is not a talent – it is a skill that can be taught, and delivers an almost immediate sense of achievement. 

Youth unemployment is still unacceptably high, and 4Lunch holds market stalls and workshops to tackle this issue. I was inspired to do something enterprising through my volunteering experiences. A great way to get into social enterprise and understand first-hand the problems in communities is to get out of your comfort zone and make connections with those you want to help. 

During my volunteering, I soon realised that whilst the charitable sector was doing its best with the resources it had, there was a need to be more enterprising and innovative. I found the culture resistant to change, and whilst I was moving forward developing 4Lunch as a social enterprise, I was criticised for 'running away with ideas'.

I could not believe that I was made to feel bad for using my initiative from a sector so very linked to the social enterprise movement. It is indicative of the type of change that needs to happen within the voluntary sector if social enterprise is indeed to have the impact it should. There needs to be a deeper understanding and acceptance that business methods can be a more sustainable way for organisations to deliver on their social mission.

Every person embarking on starting up a business will attest to the fact that surrounding yourself with positive people and advisors is integral to your success. For me, 4Lunch is a reflection of who I am as a person, meaning that all of my successes are truly mine. In the same way, setbacks and criticism can be taken personally. Winning business is like applying for a new job every day,and sometimes things either don't go as planned, or move slower than you expected (I think impatience is a common trait of entrepreneurs).

Be ready for challenges, build up resilience and a thick skin, and just learn to enjoy the ride and make peace with the certainty of uncertainty. Working within social enterprise has the added benefit that you are contributing to something bigger than yourself, which can help you ride out the tough times.For all budding entrepreneurs, the key piece of advice I would give is to ask for help, there is so much support available, so make use of it!

About Amy Win (Founder of 4Lunch)

Amy is 23, and 4Lunch is her first business venture. She is London-born, but now calls Manchester home. Amy is a market stall trader, trainer, youth mentor and starting her adventure as a young social entrepreneur. She studied Politics and Economics at the University of Manchester, and also has a Foundation Diploma in Graphic Design from Central Saint Martin’s.
You can follower her on Twitter @4Lunchmcr or on Facebook.

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