Successful Models of Sustainable Social Impact: Best Cases from the UK

One of the speakers at the panel discussion “Social entrepreneurship as a sustainable model to solve problems of various target groups” held within the framework of the IV Republican Social Forum was Phil Tulba, a UK expert and director of Tulba Consulting, who discussed economic effectiveness and the role of the state in social entrepreneurship. He also presented a number of working models of achieving sustainable social impact and generating profits, using a number of social enterprises in Great Britain as examples.

The event was organized by Dortmund and Minsk International Education Centres, with support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and active participation of many partner organizations.

You can read about Belarusian social enterprises whose stories were presented the panel discussion, here: Social Entrepreneurship as a Sustainable Model for Solving Social Problems.

All examples cited by Phil describe enterprises that provide services at the local level. In his opinion, they have greater potential to achieve social impact and do some meaningful work, and they help strengthen the resilience of local communities. Social impact is directly related to the mission of the social enterprise and is about long-term effects the service has both on individuals and on whole communities, as well as about integration of interrelated projects, services and events.

Social impact helps measure additional benefits in terms of costs. This includes, for example, reducing the costs of crime or creating new jobs. As for the resilience of local communities, it can be measured using the ABCD formula, where A is assets, B is basis, C is community, and D is development.

Phil described three successful models of social enterprises:

  1. In the first model, Income Generator, the company has no direct social impact but it gives some (or all) of its profits to charity. An example here is the British company One water, which sells water and sponsors water development programs in developing countries.
  2. The second model, Balance, means balancing profit maximization and social impact. This is the model of Lithuanian company Pirmas Blynas, a pancake house which employs people with disabilities.
  3. The third model, Keeping Pace, typically deals with trade activities, and immediate beneficiaries are fully integrated in its work. That is how The Big Issue, a British magazine distributed by the homeless people in the streets of London, works.


Teenage skate park Adrenaline Alley

Phil presented three examples in more detail. One of them, Adrenaline Alley, is a skate park, which opened in 2003 in one of the industrial cities of England in order to fight marginalization among local teens, take them off the streets and help them adopt an active lifestyle through sport. According to the expert, one of the key success factors for this project was the active involvement of the local community: the local municipality was really involved in the research and development; local businesses provided equipment, getting direct access to customers in return; and many locals received new jobs at a time when the problem of unemployment was particularly serious in Britain.

Over the 15 years since the skate park was created, its attendance rates grew from several hundred people to 60,000 people a year; about 25% of visitors are directly involved in the project as volunteers. It also helped to reduce the levels of drug and alcohol consumption, and crime rates in the city fell significantly. Thanks to the well-thought-out business model, Adrenaline Alley is now fully sustainable and receives no state subsidies.

PBS4 и
The Clink Charity
: new attitudes to people with mental disorders

The next example is the PBS4 project. It is a non-profit social enterprise that provides support to people with learning difficulties and behavioural challenges. One of the main principles of the organization is a revolutionary, proactive and individual approach: it operates on the assumption that it is not the behaviour of young people with mental disorders that is typically a problem, but the attitudes of other people.

Changing attitudes towards such people allowed the organization to provide care, support and counselling for them and their family members in order to enhance their life opportunities, improve communication skills and help them adapt within their families and with friends. This also helps to improve life in supported communities in general. This enterprise is a good example of the theory of change, where set goals (changing one’s attitude) and objectives through specific activities (providing support and adaptation services) have long-term results and social impact (improved living standards).

Another example is The Clinck Charity, a restaurant and catering chain which employs ex-offenders. Since it was created, it has trained more than 1,800 ex-cons, with the number of repeat offenders decreasing by 36% per year, and generates yearly revenues of about £2 million (with no support from public funds).


Text by: Alina Krushinskaya

Photos: public domain images


The goal of the programme is to develop a package of social entrepreneurship training programmes in Russian using innovative international practices, as well as the experience of Belarusian diaspora representatives who have become successful entrepreneurs in European Union countries and the USA.

The material was prepared within the framework of the "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator", implemented by ODB Brussels in partnership with TNU Network University (Netherlands), Belarusian Youth Public Union "New Faces" and International Civil Association "Union of Belarusian of the world “Motherland", with support from the European Union.








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