From insight to innovation
How our consulting work has birthed three promising social enterprises.
We think that learning from people at the frontline is always where you start. But there’s another piece of the puzzle. Without understanding the systems that govern people’s wellbeing you can’t hope to achieve lasting impact.
When you can mix human-level understanding with systemic insight, you’ve got a powerful recipe for change. That’s why we’ve seen our consulting work lead to some fantastic successes over the years.
Our ventures SquareCircle, Kitchenette Karts and Supply Change all started life as consulting projects. As independent social enterprises, they’re able to deliver outcomes on an ongoing basis, with a sustainable business model.
How SquareCircle was born from a project exploring youth unemployment in Tower Hamlets
This year, we were commissioned by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to design a 21st Century Finishing School to support 4000 young residents into rewarding work. After engaging with over 150 young people in the area through interviews and workshops, the consulting team piloted a talent agency model with 19 residents.
The new approach tackles some of the core deficits of current work experience practice: the misalignment of an individual’s career goals with their work experience placement; the fact that less privileged young people struggle to find high-calibre opportunities through their personal networks; and the difficulty of translating the skills gained from part-time work in retail or manual labour into professional assets to present to future employers.
Having completed the pilot, the consulting team decided to take the talent agency on as SquareCircle, an independent social venture run in partnership with Tower Hamlets — an unexpected but welcome outcome of the project.
“They had fresh ears and eyes. There were countless firms I could have employed to deliver to the brief, but what I got is much more interesting. The critical thing was the different kind of thinking, a differently-minded cohort of people to the conventional mindset I would have got elsewhere.
I’m really excited about the potential product from the social venture idea.”
Vicky Clark, Director for Economic Development, Tower Hamlets
How Kitchenette Karts created sustainable career opportunities for ex-offenders
Kitchenette Karts was born when restaurateur Cynthia Shanmugalingam commissioned us to scope the idea for a new social enterprise.
“I worked with a team of Fellows in 2015 to develop a pilot plan for Kitchenette’s idea for a new sister social enterprise food truck. Today, that idea is Kitchenette Karts — serving up delicious Vietnamese sandwiches at Spitalfields Market and training up ex-offenders to build careers in the food industry.”
Cynthia Shanmugalingam, co-founder Kitchenette Karts
The consulting project, which we delivered in 2015, was just the start. As one of the team members, Sam Boyd, explains:
“I helped develop and launch Kitchenette Karts during my Year Here Fellowship four years ago, and I’ve stayed involved since. I now work at Switchback, a charity supporting young prison-leavers in London, and I’ve been delighted to pilot a new partnership between the two organisations. We’ve got Switchback Trainees being trained up in Karts’ bright pink food truck straight after release from prison.”
Sam Boyd, co-founder Kitchenette Karts + Head of Policy, Impact and Communications, Switchback
How Orbit Housing commissioned us to change public procurement for good
In 2018, Orbit Housing’s Director of Community Investment Sam Scharf commissioned us to explore why social enterprises were struggling to win anything more than the tiniest portion of the £284bn public sector procurement market.
The project team developed a prototype for a digital marketplace to link up brilliant social enterprises with government and charity sector buyers. And thus Supply Change was born.
Commission us in 2019
Our consulting projects are two-months long, kicking off in February and August each year. We’ve worked with clients as diverse as the GLA, Sainsbury’s, the European Union, numerous local authorities and St Mungo’s, the homelessness charity. The projects might call for service design methods, social enterprise acceleration or community engagement.
Get in touch with Kelly to learn more.