History of social enterprises in Coventry 

Coventry has been largely re-built since the 1940s and has a long history of manufacturing in the area. With the decline in traditional employment markets, there has been a strong movement towards regeneration over the last 10 years and recognition of the need to address entrenched social deprivation in the locality.

With 2 internationally recognised universities, the population age is relatively young and students have shown an active interest in catalysing social change, improve social mobility and resolve social challenges.

These 2 key factors have laid the foundation of a network of community activity and social enterprise start-up’s taking ownership of the challenges associated with deprivation. Significantly, social enterprises are leading on developing innovative solutions and market opportunities through new goods and services that directly address community needs.

Current social enterprise landscape in Coventry 

In early 2016, the Coventry Social Enterprise Forum (CSEF) was formed to bring together the social enterprise sector in the locality and develop greater market opportunities be developing closer partnerships with public sector organisations.

Following the CSEF formation, a 2016 survey of the c.250 social enterprise believed to exist in the CV postcode area indicated that a core of c.50 active social enterprises that are trading, scaling and sustainable.

The main area of service is the health and well being sector with many emerging digital, retail, food and environmental social enterprises.

Key objectives 

1. To raise the profile of social enterprise across Coventry city and engage the wider Coventry community as commissioners, businesses and residents to know what they are, what they do, who they are and how to find them.

2. To increase our understanding of the social enterprise landscape in Coventry by supporting research, mapping and benchmarking activities, and identifying market opportunities for social enterprise.

3. To build capacity within the social enterprise sector by ensuring a robust leadership offer, developing sector resources and toolkit, and encouraging social enterprise start-up through a City Challenge.

Stakeholder Group

Keith Jeffrey – Coventry University Social Enterprise CIC

Richard Groves – University of Warwick                               

Cllr Linda Bigham – Coventry City Council                            

Kate Launchbury – Coventry & Warwickshire CDA                          

Christabell Amoakoh –  The Highlife Centre                  

Tim Rees – The Community Hub                                            

Carole Donnelly – The Priory Centre                               

Sue Ogle –  Voluntary Action Coventry              

We will host a number of profile raising events such as a Buy Social ‘Meet the Buyer’ for commissioners, private sector organisations and social enterprises who deliver goods and/or services as part of traded contracts, to come together in a ‘business to business’ marketplace.

National campaigns such as Social Saturday also provide a collaboration platform for us to encourage local people to purchase goods and items produced by social enterprises and supporting a ‘community of benefit’ that contributes to society.

Our Coventry social enterprise network will be encouraged to list their organisations on the national Buy Social Directory to enable them to have a wider profile beyond Coventry. On a local level, we will promote opportunities for social enterprise city tours and study visits through our SE Places status.

Contact details

Keith Jeffrey –  KJeffrey@cad.coventry.ac.uk