'Top Gun Academy' for Social Entrepreneurs in Wales - Bangor University launches learning network for businesses with a social conscience

The "best of the best" in the social enterprise world are about to get even better- Social entrepreneurs and social enterprises in Wales and Ireland are to benefit from greater professional support to help them develop this emerging and important business sector.  

A learning, networking and support initiative designed to improve the innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial skills of social entrepreneurs, is also providing the first accredited programme of this nature to be launched in Wales or Ireland.

Menter Iontach Nua (MIN) offers a Masters degree in Management of Innovation in Social Enterprise and a comprehensive suite of networking, training and mentoring supports for social entrepreneurs, community development organisations and companies with a Corporate Social Responsibility remit.

Ten individuals representing a range of social enterprises and groups from across Wales, are already signed up for the first Masters Degree course.  They are attending a Masterclass and Panel discussion at Bangor University’s Business School on 27 November. The speakers are Mark Richardson, Director of the project at Bangor University; Ann Horan Chief Exec Ryan Academy Dublin, and Professor John G. Hughes, the University’s Vice-Chancellor. Panelists at the event include Iwan Trefor Jones of Gwynedd Council, Clive Wolfendale of Cais, and Sharon Jones of Crest Co-operative, Wales Social Entrepreneur Leader of the Year 2011.  A series of similar Masterclasses will be offered to social entrepreneurs from the end of 2012 to the end of 2014.

Professor John G. Hughes said:

“Social enterprises deserve greater recognition for the contribution they can make to the creation of community-based jobs and their potential in assisting economic recovery. The skills being developed in courses such as this are essential in the current recessionary times as we need a skilled and knowledgeable workforce at all levels of the economy to ensure economic recovery and help us rebuild our competitiveness.”

Speaking about the initiative, Mark Richardson, Director of the project at Bangor University’s Business School and Fellow of the Clore Social Leadership, a Clore Duffield Foundation initiative, said:  

"Most social entrepreneurs don’t have any formal training in developing a business; they learn through their mistakes, which can be time-consuming, expensive and sometimes traumatic.  The knowledge and tools these social entrepreneurs will learn through the Masters programme and Masterclasses will help them to maximise their organisation’s social impact for Welsh and Irish communities."

"Our vision for Menter Iontach Nua is to transform social enterprises in Wales and Ireland and to inspire and equip social entrepreneurs to generate social impact at a scale way beyond anything they have been able to achieve so far.  Menter Iontach Nua will help them grow."

Victoria Burrows, Masters student and Deputy Manager of DangerPoint, an award-winning social enterprise based in Flintshire that educates children from across North Wales in all aspects of safety, said:

"As one of the 10 students from Wales to be involved in MIN I am really proud to have this opportunity. The next two years are going to be challenging but exciting and I can speak for all of us when I say we are looking forward to enhancing our skills and experience, further developing organisations in Wales to become sustainable through innovative and enterprising work at the same time.”

Publication date: 26 November 2012