Four budding social entrepreneurs receive awards in West Dunbartonshire

The West Dunbartonshire Social Enterprise Challenge is now in its fourth year out of a five year pledge, providing entrepreneurs with tailored business support and mentoring, as well as up to £15,000 of funding to turn their idea into a sustainable social enterprise.

Alison Bell, one of the awardees 

The initiative was launched in 2013 to encourage the creation of social enterprises that create jobs and support economic growth in the area. As social enterprises, these businesses also fulfil goals such as tackling social problems and improving communities and life chances.

This year, the programme has awarded four successful applicants with funding support to get their ideas off the ground. We worked closely with the applicants before they applied for the fund through West Dunbartonshire Council. After presenting their idea dragon’s den style to a panel of experts, candidates were awarded the gap funding necessary to launch their enterprises. They will continue to work with Firstport and Business Gateway West Dunbartonshire to ensure they receive the support they need to make their business a success.

Find out more about each of the awardees' venture! 

Audrey Mutongi - The No.1 Befriending Agency
Audrey is the founder of The No.1 Befriending Agency. She received £5,000 in funding through the Ditto programme when she first started. She now runs the organisation with the help of her small team made of Priscilla Abasi and George McBride who help with administration and governance as well as Arthur Norton who provides live music at social events. Audrey says: The work would not be possible if it weren’t for several volunteer befrienders and the trusted Board of advisors! The No.1 Befriending Agency’s aim is to help people live fuller and happier lives. It does this through providing friendly, non-medical care services to lonely and socially isolated people in the Greater Glasgow areas and beyond. Audrey’s social enterprise offers four main services: One to one befriending Home-help service such as running errands, assisting with pet care, help with shopping... Social lunches for the elderly that comprise of a meal and live entertainment A volunteer programme which supports people that are socially isolated because of physical disability, the elderly as well as people on the autistic spectrum. Audrey has just been awarded £12,000 through the West Dunbartonshire Challenge. This money will allow her to hire a volunteer coordinator so The No.1 Befriending Agency can take on more volunteers. Volunteers are essential to her social enterprise as they help provide one to one befriending services. Audrey has big ambitions for her social enterprise. She is planning for a centre in West Dunbartonshire that will offer supported living, 24hrs social support and workshops for carers on Befriending, Heath and Safety and Moving and Handling.

Alan McGlashan – Re-Pay
Alan McGlashan is the brains behind Re-Pay, a property maintenance social enterprise that will support offenders who have successfully completed an Unpaid Work Order. Alan’s idea addresses a genuine need as 75% of offenders who successfully complete an Unpaid Work Oder remain unemployed. Re-Pay will help offenders gain qualifications and work experience to get job ready. The main objectives are to move them from offending and unemployment into full time employment. Alan has gained a lot of experience and knowledge during a 17 year career in the sector. To ensure his business model is sustainable, Alan plans to develop a property portfolio. Renovating properties will offer work experience to the offenders and selling or renting the properties will bring an income to the social enterprise. Alan’s plans for the future include providing a housing option for offenders. Alan explains: Housing can play a vital role in breaking the cycle of reoffending. Alan also hopes to provide property maintenance services to other social enterprises. Alan explains that his idea is new in Scotland: No programme in Scotland exists to help those finishing their Unpaid Work Orders move into employment. On completion of their Orders, many state that they wish they could stay on and gain more experience and qualification. Alan has been awarded £10,000 through the West Dunbartonshire Challenge. This money will be a welcome boost towards establishing and growing his social enterprise. You can get in touch with Alan at Repaydumbarton@virginmedia.com.

Alison Bell - Alison Bell Design CIC
Alison is the founder of Alison Bell Design CIC, a Design & Manufacturing Studio. In addition to core design services including guerrilla marketing, urban art and set design for commercial events and the wedding industry, the studio will also design and curate pop up events and workshops to build employability skills for young people. The studio will offer apprenticeships for young people that are looking to start a creative career and will begin in 2017, with a view to forming a young person workforce. Alison received a Start It Award of £4,950 from Firstport in January 2016, to help get her idea off the ground. Alison explains: At the end of our first year, we expect to be known as a clever commercial business with a high social impact in West Dunbartonshire. She feels passionate about West Dunbartonshire, where she has lived for most of her life: I want to regenerate West Dunbartonshire through its proud past, using pop up spaces to help redesign and find value in communities. Pop up spaces will allow her social enterprise to move in and out of city centres for commercial events and workshops and she hopes to expand further across Scotland once established. Alison has just been awarded £15,000 through the West Dunbartonshire Challenge to establish and grow her venture. She wants to inspire and influence people into designing a better future for West Dunbartonshire: We come from a generation of makers, innovators, designers who at one point were all based in West Dunbartonshire, it is in our genes, who we are, how were built as people and I have been actively spreading this through my urban art.

Jain McIntyre
Jain’s social enterprise will offer a variety of activities and services in the village of Bowling and surrounding areas. There will be regular creative activities, a programme of talks, walks and films, and events for local residents and visitors to the area. A new creative learning and work space will also be set up with training opportunities for young people, hot desking for start ups and a Creative Network to provide support and learning. Jain has a background in community development and community arts and is a keen supporter of the arts. She explains where her motivation comes from: I enjoy finding solutions to social concerns and making projects happen. I also have a deep rooted interest in ensuring that young people are given the best opportunity they can to develop and thrive. She has just been awarded £15,000 through the West Dunbartonshire Challenge. This money will help her establish and grow her social enterprise. Jain hopes that her project will make a difference in Bowling. She says: I think Bowling has a wealth of possibility and potential. The area is rich in heritage, inspiration, natural beauty and environmental resources. I believe that real change can happen when you are committed to an area.