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How to be more social as a business

Tue, 19 August 2014

Contributed by Jamie Dunn, Director at Spark Global Education
We are constantly hearing a lot about becoming more social as business owners, and thinking more about our supply chains and where we source our products and materials. The government is increasingly trying to do more and more to encourage us as business owners to be ‘more social,’ but what does that actually mean for us, and what exactly can we do to help? 

‘Being more social’ can mean a variety of things, but let’s face it, we are all busy and have businesses to run and so we want to be social, but we want it to be easy for us. Each business is different and can be more social in different ways, below is a list of ways that your business can tick that box and help the economy, the disadvantaged, and even help your own business in the process. 
Review your supply chain 
If you are a business that sources and sells products, where are you sourcing them? How are they being delivered? Is your supplier ‘social’? These are all questions that you should be asking your suppliers, and if you don’t like the answer, find another supplier. Social enterprises are springing up all over the place now and I bet that you would be able to find a social enterprise that can supply the products you need. Do check out the Buy Social Directory as you can search through suppliers that are social enterprises.
Employ and train the unemployed
There is a very unfair stigma attached to unemployed people – they are often labeled ‘unemployable’ or ‘unskilled’ however, that may not be the case. Being unemployed doesn’t mean that the individual cannot do that job, so as part of you being social, why don’t you employ somebody who is unemployed? The Government is really pushing this agenda at the moment and has a number of schemes that can help you as a business fund the taking on of extra staff. The apprenticeships initiative is a great example of this because you, as an employer, can receive funding towards taking on an extra member of staff. You can be social, and be commercial at the same time. 
Support initiatives through profits, time, or products 
A common misconception of ‘being social’ is that it will cost you money as a business. That is not always the case. In order to support a good and positive initiative, you don’t always have to give money, you can give time or even old products that you no longer can sell or need anymore. One of the things that I do, personally, in my business is that 10% of our profits go to an international charity that helps underprivileged children. I am also a trustee of an air ambulance charity. This means that myself and my business provide a mix of finance and time in support of our social agenda, but it also gives us fresh ideas, new opportunities and a great sense of helping others. That is priceless. 
Doing ‘good business’ isn’t enough anymore, you must ‘do good’ as a business.

About Jamie Dunn (Director of ‘Spark Global Education')

Jamie is a 22 year-old Entrepreneur that has previously been short-listed as one of the Top 20 Young People in the World 2012, a title once held by former US President, John F Kennedy. 
Jamie started in enterprise aged 12 selling unwanted items at school. By the time he was 15 he was making around £500 per week from 5 market stalls across Birmingham. At the age of 16, Jamie left school with little qualifications but won a place on the Peter Jones Pathfinder course as one of 28 from nationwide applicants, with this he moved to Buckinghamshire for 6 months. 
Aged 18, Jamie Co-founded the printing organization, Made By Young People that eventually held clients such as, Aston Villa, Ikea and Asda. Jamie successfully exited this business aged 20. Since then, Jamie has gone on to work with Governments and Educational Organizations from around the World on developing Youth Entrepreneurship eco-systems. Most notably, Jamie was an adviser to the Malaysian Government office surrounding enterprise education. During this time, Jamie also co-founded a multi-million pound investment fund, which provides mentoring, office space, finance and support to young people in the West Midlands who are setting up in business. 
Jamie now spends most of his time as a Director, Shareholder in Spark Global Education, an educational consultancy with operations globally. As an investor, Jamie has equity interests in different sectors ranging from Recruitment to Technology. Jamie also sits on, and advises many different boards and trusts including the BMET Enterprise Academy, Arrive Alive, TechMinsk and Arden Forest FC. Jamie also writes regular columns for, Shell LiveWire and various other publications and websites.

You can follow him on Twitter @JDEntrepreneur.

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