Green Schools Project, a Hackney based Social Enterprise, is launching a brand-new initiative for secondary schools, the Social Business Challenge. Participating children will learn about the power and potential of social business models to solve environmental problems.

Working in groups, students will design their own social business idea to help solve a key environmental problem. The ideas will be judged by a panel of social business people and one lucky group will win the chance to present their idea to MP’s at the Houses of Parliament.

Hackney resident Henry Greenwood, a former Maths teacher at Skinners’ Academy, set up Green Schools Project in 2015 to assist schools on their journey to becoming greener. He has been joined by Morgan Phillips, former head of the national Eco-Schools programme, and together they came up with the Social Business Challenge and they are looking for Hackney Secondary Schools to take part in the pilot.

Henry and Morgan believe that business has a vital role to play in tackling the various environmental challenges the world faces. But, new business models are key to this as Morgan says ‘Businesses that focus solely on profit making often end up contributing to social and environmental problems. Social Businesses do the opposite of this, they operate and make a profit, but they are extremely mindful of the impacts they are having and seek to minimise them as far as possible.’

Social businesses can go even further than this. For some, it is not just about minimising the impact of a conventional business like a brewery or a cleaning company, many are set up with an expressed purpose to solve or ease a problem.

Green Schools Project is actually an example of this as Henry explains, ‘Green Schools Project is a business not a charity and are not ashamed of that. We recognise that schools are not getting the support they need to teach green issues and to make their schools more environmentally friendly. That is the problem we are trying to solve as a business that stands on its own two feet.’

Young professionals are being drawn to careers in social business as they want to achieve more than just a pay package at the end of a month’s work, they want another reason to get out of bed in the morning, a purpose. They are drawn to the values underpinning businesses like Hackney’s very own Yemzi, Pedals and Speak Street. These businesses are changing the way people think about the world of work and what companies can (and possibly should) aspire to.

The Social Business Challenge is backed by Social Enterprise UK, who recently announced Hackney as an official ‘Social Enterprise Borough’. It will introduce young people to the power and potential of social business in Hackney and beyond. It will also help them to develop skills that they will use in the workplace and help enable them to think differently about their careers and the sort of business they would like to work for.

MORE INFO:

Green Schools Project are crowdfunding to run the Social Business Challenge, pledge your support by March 15th via www.crowdfunder.co.uk/social-business-challenge-for-schools

Schools can sign up to the Social Business Challenge at www.greenschoolsproject.org.uk/social-business-challenge/