Getting involved with a social enterprise takes you to a different and exciting place.
Matt Stephenson-Dodd is Chief Executive of Street League, an innovative national social enterprise using football to tackle disadvantage amongst young people across the UK. Matt joined Mentor Iontach Nua as an expert Mentor and has supported two social enterprises, including most recently Gwydyr Gwydfa in Llanrwst, North Wales.
Matt Stephen-Dodd, Chief Executive of Street League. Tell us a little about your career background?
My career started in Youth Work and I’ve been involved in the social enterprise sector for some time, either through running social businesses or bodies that represent the sector. I joined Street League as CEO in June 2010 when it was a small grant dependent charity. It is now a thriving organisation that runs in 15 cities across the UK and has trebled its outcomes to over 1,000 young people per year moving into work, education or training.
Why did you get involved?
Business takes me around the UK but I actually live in Wales and I really wanted to a way of getting involved in the local community here in North Wales. I was attracted by the idea of mentoring local social enterprises and help stimulate the local economy and initially got involved with the Menter Iontach Nua programme through delivering a Masterclass. Given my own experience as a social entrepreneur, I thought that I had something to give as a mentor and so was delighted to get involved in this capacity.
How has the experience been for you?
I’ve really enjoyed the experience. Beyond the rewarding feeling of helping others, there is much more. I think being in a position to give advice and pointers often makes you reflective. Sitting down with Liz and Roger of Golygfa Gwydyr and telling them they need to focus on what they are doing has made me think about Street League and our own focus. On a personal level, I’ve really enjoyed meeting local people in the community and getting involved. I’ve discovered is that the social enterprise scene is thriving in North Wales and it’s great to be part of that.
What advice you would give to budding social entrepreneurs?
I think a lot of social entrepreneurs start out trying to do everything which is fine at the beginning because you got to discover what it is that you’re good at. But there comes a time when this doesn’t work anymore. You can’t do everything well. Don’t be mediocre. Focus on what you’re good at and be excellent.
What would you say to encourage other businesses people to get involved?
Get involved! There is a whole world of things going on outside your door which often you just don’t hear about. Getting involved with a social enterprise takes you to a different and exciting place and you can be part of something much more. It’s hugely rewarding. I think many people might like to get involved but don’t really hear about the opportunity. If you have the business experience and the connections in the business world, then you could really help someone to make a difference.
The above article by Keely McMahon-Perry first published on bitc.org.uk.