In only just over two years, Eidgah Academy CIC has established a significant presence in Perry Barr. Our workshops and campaigns have provided information and practical support to address issues affecting young people – bullying, online safety, child sexual exploitation, anti-social behaviour, crime, violence, drugs and gangs. For our young people, our aim is to nurture mature, confident, compassionate young people who are able to make positive contributions in their local community. Our community programs increase community understanding and integration and reduce isolation and loneliness, particularly amongst single parent families and the elderly.
What motivated you to start a social enterprise?
During my internship I identified a lack of facilities for children and young people in Perry Barr. My research showed the challenges faced by the local community, including economic deprivation, crime, social isolation, and academic under performance. My conversations with families helped me to understand the desire and need for a local, family friendly organisation supporting the development of young people and an easily reachable hub for the local community.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in business?
As a young entrepreneur, I did not have any experience of running a company. My learning curve was steep as I had to understand the legal, commercial and governance requirements of a start-up. With the support of an experienced mentor, I crafted my vision, aims and objectives for my social enterprise. I was able to set up the CIC, develop a governance framework, create a set of policies and procedures for organisational management and put together a Community Advisory Panel to support me and the Board of Directors.
How has social investment helped your organisation?
Funding is core to the success and sustainability of an organisation as it supports initial setup and helps with cash flow. With the social investment, I was able to pay salaries, invest in IT and equipment and develop a robust governance framework. The funding helped me to accelerate the company setup and introduction of our service offering.
Would you recommend social investment to other social enterprises?
I would recommend social investment to every budding social entrepreneur as a means of starting an enterprise or to introduce new service offer or to scale up existing provisions. In addition to financial investment, the network of contacts and advice one gets are invaluable sources of inspiration, encouragement and direction.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about taking on social investment?
If you have an idea. Craft your vision. Articulate your aims. Lost your smart objectives. And then just go for it. Look for a suitable social investor such as Big Issue Invest. Be open minded to advice and the voices of experience. And when you look back, you will see how many people have meant you their shoulders to stand on. That’s the time to reflect and be grateful
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Keep an eye out for more female investee stories this month!