UBS - Finalist in The Experian Award for Building Stronger Communities

UBS has supported two projects in a bid to promote social enterprise
  • Hackney Connect provides funding, project and personal support, as well as online and physical networks
  • Pioneering Social Entrepreneurship in Hackney ensures social entrepreneurs grow their enterprise through support, advice and training

UBS’s efforts to support social entrepreneurs in the recently affluent, yet deprived, London Borough of Hackney demands your attention. Here’s why.

Hackney is a polarised borough – pockets of recent affluence sit alongside the most deprived communities, often making the most disadvantaged feel even more marginalised.

Hackney’s unemployment rate is higher than London and UK averages. It is however a relatively young borough, a quarter of Hackney’s population is under 20, and over 20 per cent are between 20-29 years old.

Young people engage more strongly with social enterprises, increasing their ability to bring about impact in these disadvantaged communities. However analysis reveals that to grow, they need help to access finance, and to be most effective require business mentorship and expertise.

Pioneering social enteprise

By giving young social entrepreneurs the business and life skills, confidence and aspirations needed to succeed, the programme supports their personal growth as well as increasing the impact on the communities they serve.

For 30 years, UBS has consistently addressed economic and social deprivation in the London Borough of Hackney through its Community Affairs programme, focused on education and social entrepreneurship. The depth, breadth and sustained focus of this programme sets it apart. Developing from this programme, over the past three years in particular – thanks to partnerships with Hackney Cooperative Developments and UnLtd UBS has supported social entrepreneurs in establishing new social enterprises and growing existing ones to help maximise impact for the most

The programme builds on our existing strength and knowledge while taking us into new territory to address real needs in society

- Nick Wright,
Head of Community Affairs at UBS
,” says Nick Wright, Head of Community Affairs at UBS.

By supporting two projects, UBS has provided focused finance and advice to social entrepreneurs. Hackney Connect, supported by UnLtd, provides funding, project and personal support, as well as online and physical networks to help young people start up and grow their own social ventures.

Meanwhile, Pioneering Social Entrepreneurship in Hackney, run by Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD), ensures social entrepreneurs grow their enterprise through support, advice and training.

Having regular contact with partners means challenges are addressed early and new opportunities seized promptly. For example, “a great deal of interest was registered for Hackney Connect by young people above our initial target age group and so we adapted the programme and this was raised to 30 years of age,” says Wright.

Altogether, UBS has supported 307 individuals to establish or grow a social enterprise in Hackney.

All of the 45 social entrepreneurs supported by Hackney Connect have developed their skills, feel more able to create social change and are transforming their community. On average, social entrepreneurs are generating £13,679 and directly benefiting 322 people per venture – more than 4,500 in total.

Over three years, HCD has helped 262 individuals. 28 social enterprises were engaged and assisted at start-up, six were converted to the social enterprise model, and three were rescued   from the point of collapse. Programme outcomes included increased business knowledge, improved service delivery, expanded profiles for the social enterprises and increased turnover; nine clients grew their turnover by an average of 22 per cent during 2014 and 2015 (from £714,052 to £869,838), thanks to the programme.

By the way of, for example, Hackney Elderly Association, made up of 10 luncheon clubs for the elderly, where people can meet their peers socially, eat culturally relevant healthy food and get health advice. HEA was underperforming and struggling to recruit. The programme provided targeted expertise, advice and training, securing increased funding and a £70,000 contract through improved delivery increasing employment and relieving pressure on statutory services.

There is a compelling evidence base underpinning the business and community impact case to support disadvantaged communities, says Wright. According to research conducted by the City of London Corporation between 2010 and 2011, for every £1 a company spends on volunteer programmes in and around the City Of London helping unemployed people get back to work, a measurable social benefit of more than £11 is recorded. All employee volunteers surveyed felt that volunteering had a positive impact on their view of UBS, and developed skills involving communications and teamwork.

Improving relationships and developing networks

The company has also improved stakeholder relationships – with its community work recognised and picked up on by others in the sector. The new Hackney Mayor visited UBS offices twice to speak at partner events.

“By more local people 'buying social' and starting their own social enterprises we will see higher rates of local employment, more equality of opportunity and greater economic value retained through our commercial activity,” says Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney.

Hackney is still the 11th most deprived local authority in England – although when UBS’s formal community Affairs programme commenced, Hackney ranked 2nd.

“Businesses would struggle to thrive if surrounded by communities in which people are not skilled and entrepreneurial or addressing, with impact, the societal and community issues they face,” says Wright. “This programme changed all that.”