History of social enterprise in Digbeth

The modern site of Digbeth was first settled upon in the 7th century when it was parish of Birmingham. The area is currently dominated by old industrial buildings, flats converted from old factory buildings and new builds, social housing, a vibrant entertainment scene and the old blue brick Victorian railway viaduct. Social enterprises are operating in the area due to access to the city centre, low rents and readily available buildings and more recently access to other social enterprises!

We have been operating a Digbeth Social Enterprise Network since 2011, led by Sarah Crawley, Chief Executive of iSE (Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs). This group helped to establish Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter (DSEQ) and is now driving it forward. So far, we have organised walks, markets, a Social Enterprise Festival and a City Drive, as well as published a booklet to showcase the quarter called Tales of Social Enterprise. This was the result of a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and DSEQ.

Current social enterprise landscape in Digbeth

Our Baseline Survey, carried out in early 2014, mapped 53 social enterprises in Digbeth within an area that follows the Ring Road which surrounds the city centre on the east side. Business sectors are well represented with social enterprises operating within Health and Wellbeing [25%], hospitality and catering [15%], Creative Industries [20%], Business to Business [30%], Manufacture and Retail [5%] and Environment [5%]. We believe there are more social enterprises unmapped.

In Digbeth there are three social enterprises that have over 50 employees but the majority are employing between 5-15 people. We estimate that the social enterprise sector turns over approximately £20 million per annum however this would need to be verified through further research.

Key objectives 

1. Help to raise the profile of social enterprises in Digbeth and encourage collaborative working to increase sales.

2. Support social enterprises in Digbeth to access the supply chain for HS2.

3. Stimulate employment and training opportunities within social enterprises in Digbeth.

Stakeholder Group

iSE CIC, Digbeth Trust, Digbeth Residents Association, Birmingham University, Birmingham City Council, BITA Pathways, Health Exchange CIC, Spot on Marketing CIC, Citizen Coaching CIC, City and South Birmingham College, Made by Young People, Change Kitchen CIC, Friends of the Earth, RNR CIC.  

Buy Social 

To find out more about the social enterprises in Digbeth please visit our website. We have included a page encouraging everyone to ‘Shop for Change’ and buy from social enterprises. 

Additional comments

Find out more about our latest activities on our website.

Contact details

Website: Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter 

Email: Sarah Crawley 

Twitter: @sarahcrawleyise #BrumCityDrive