Unlocking the Power of Social Entrepreneurs

AKOU’s Impact Report on SSE’s Social Entrepreneurs Programme is Released

AKOU is excited to reveal findings from one of our most prominent projects over the past year. Our independent report for the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) on the impact of the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme.

Funded by partners including Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, the Scottish Government and The National Lottery Community Fund, this flagship programme has supported over 2,400 social entrepreneurs since 2012.

Discovering Impactful Insights: Key Findings

Our evaluation uncovered some powerful points:

  • Survival Success: Social ventures under SSE’s wings boast an impressive 2-year survival rate of 81%, outshining the UK SME average of 73%
  • Economic and Social Powerhouses: SSE ventures contribute not just socially but economically too, injecting an estimated £11.9 million annually into their local communities
  • Community Connectors: Social enterprises champion local connections, supporting an astonishing 1.8 million people each year across the UK

The AKOU Approach: Beyond Evaluation

Leading the evaluation was a really important and exciting piece of work for us. The social enterprise sector is one we’ve been involved in for over a decade. We’ve always believed that this approach to business can be instrumental to tackling many of today’s biggest challenges. Having the chance to gather evidence to see if this can be the case, was an incredible opportunity.

When appointed in 2022, our ambition was to go beyond the traditional approach to evaluation. To supplement traditional data, we embarked on a participatory journey. Taking ten past programme participants as Research Associates to dive deeper into the impact. These individuals were trained and supported by AKOU in research and impact measurement approaches.

Pictured: Gateway Collective, one of the ventures who participated in AKOU’s Research Associate Programme

Not only did this approach enrich our findings, it also empowered SSE fellows to contribute firsthand to the research.

As a result, we provided in-depth insight into the impact on communities across the country. This new data set now allows SSE for the first time to understand the ripple effects of their impact on beneficiaries of SSE social enterprises and adopt a place-based approach to understanding social value.

Empowering Social Entrepreneurs: The Ripple Effect

Through this collaborative effort, we’ve unearthed invaluable insights:

  • Place-based impact: A participatory research approach unveiled the nuanced, local-level impact of SSE social enterprises, giving us a richer understanding of their ripple effects in and beyond their communities
  • The power of data sharing: Access to impact data is vital to understanding the change delivered. By making it easier to collaboratively collect and share this data we empower social enterprises and funding programmes alike, maximising our collective capacity and resources

Sustaining Strength in Crisis: Social Enterprises can show the way

In times of upheaval – from the impact of COVID-19 to the challenges of Brexit and the cost of living crisis – social enterprises emerged as unsung heroes. It’s not been an easy decade to say the least. Social enterprises have sustained and enhanced civic strength. While also played a pivotal role in growing the economy sustainably.

For us, we believe that this report is more than just data. It’s a celebration of all the dedicated individuals that have taken part in this programme. Above all, it’s a testament to the transformative power of social entrepreneurship. Join us as we celebrate the incredible impact of SSE’s Social Entrepreneurs Programme.

You can read our full report to uncover the stories behind the numbers and be inspired by the changemakers shaping a better tomorrow.