Social Enterprise Yorkshire and the Humber (SEYH) Conference – Friday, 22nd November 2013
Workshop 3 summary – Where is the value in a corporate relationship?
Report by Laura Kreiling, Collaborator in the Social Economy in Higher Education project
The one hour workshop featured a discussion between Afzal M. Fazal, recent founder of the social enterprise groupedin, and Tim Jones, consultant at Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC). The case of Tim Jones and Afzal Fazal is an example of a successful relationship of an individual from the private sector and from the public sector working together for mutual benefit. The workshop was facilitated by Charlie Mitchell from Creating Space4U who encouraged the 19 workshop participants to pose questions to Jones and Fazal after their introductory conversation.
During the first half of the workshop, Jones and Fazal reflected on their relationship in the year 2015 which was initiated through the Social Enterprise Yorkshire and the Humber/PwC mentoring programme in May 2013. In this scheme, Tim Jones – participating in the social enterprise mentoring programme within PwC – provided Afzal Fazal with business skills and advice how to turn his business idea, the creation of a business social network to facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing and support among organisations, into reality. With the support of Jones, Fazal was not only able to understand how PwC works but also to get contacts to bank, solicitor and accountant institutions and advice how to liaise with them which was found to be essential for a business-start up. In addition to relationships and contacts to external bodies, awareness and recognition from the community early on provided Fazal with the support needed in the first months. Moreover, after working out of his private bedroom with ‘several heads on’, Afzal Fazal was able to move his office in the public community centre at the Bradford University Campus. In the current stage, he is planning to hire additional staff based on the advice by Tim Jones to “hire people better than you; do not hire clones but rather those with a different skill set to yours”. Also Jones emphasized having enjoyed being exposed to “the spirit of a small social enterprise” and the importance of relationship development at the beginning of interactions to build trust, for example by means of skills sharing. Tim Jones also mentioned that the major difference of working with Afzal Fazal to his consultant job was the fact that he saw himself in the position of giving advice and not doing the job itself.
Despite the successful relationship exemplified by Afzal Fazal and Tim Jones, several critical questions were posed by workshop participants such as the language deployed from private sector organizations when referring to their engagement with the third sector. In fact, one participant raised the point that rather than pointing to a two-way relationship aimed at sharing benefits created in the relationship, private sector rhetoric tends to portray a top-down notion in which the social enterprise is seen as being a “sponge” which learns and profits from the relationship rather than a mutual generation of benefits. This explains partially why social enterprises have been hesitant to engage in partnerships, questioning private sector’s intrinsic motivation to partner with third sector organizations. Also, the point was made that mentoring programmes do not always work out in a sense that bad match-making causes partnerships to fail. In the case of the discussed case study between PwC consultant Tim Jones and social entrepreneur Afzal Fazal, SEYH had the leading role in ensuring that partners are matched successfully. In fact, the organization serves as a forum to link PwC employees, who are part of the mentoring programme with PwC, with interested social entrepreneurs that are members of SEYH.