Social Enterprise is a Big Issue at Warwick

**Beyond the Bottom Line: The Warwick Emerge Forum is to be held on January 26 2013 at the Zeeman Building on Campus. It will be the first student-led social enterprise conference to take place at the University of Warwick.**

A social enterprise is an organisation that uses business methods with the aim of tackling social or environmental problems, rather than maximising profits for shareholders.

There are 62,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing approximately 800,000 people and contributing more than £24bn to the economy.

The conference will consist of a series of lectures given by professionals in social enterprise and academics at the University. There will also be interactive workshops accessible to everyone attending, regardless of whether they have experience in the sector.

To ensure that everyone can benefit from the conference, the workshops will follow two separate paths. One for those new to the sector and the other for those who are more experienced in social enterprise.

The workshops will follow two paths: Firstly there will be an Inspire stream which aims to provide an introduction to social enterprise, highlighting how social enterprises can provide solutions to social and environmental problems.

Secondly, an Innovate stream will offer the more experienced participants the chance to learn how social enterprise has become a key part of the modern business world

One of the key speakers at the conference will be John Bird, founder of _The Big Issue_.

After difficult times in his youth, including serving time in a young offender’s institution and sleeping rough on the streets of London, Mr Bird set up the weekly magazine as a social enterprise project which achieves mass circulation through being sold on the streets of the UK and only by vendors who are homeless.

The proceeds from each copy sold is split equally between the vendor and the publishers, reflecting Mr Bird’s own philosophy that the deprived and under-privileged should be given a hand-up through earning money rather than waiting for the hand-out.

Unlike more traditional businesses, social enterprises often thrive in times of economic downturn because they can provide for the needs that arise as a result of recession, addressing issues such as homelessness, unemployment and food security.

Other speakers to attend the conference include Nick Temple, Director of Business & Enterprise at Social Enterprise UK, the national body for social enterprise, and Theresa Burton, CEO and Co-founder of Buzzbnk, an on-line crowd-funding platform bringing social ventures looking for start-up or growth capital together with like-minded people.

The Beyond the Bottom line conference aims to inform people about this new wave of business and to inspire delegates with interactive workshops and debates.

Polly Foster, vice co-ordinator of Beyond the Bottom Line and third-year Philosophy student at Warwick explained:

“The social enterprise sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK. Increasingly, people are finding new and innovative ways of tackling social and environmental problems, different to the methods used by traditional charities.

“At Beyond the Bottom Line, delegates can hear from and meet leading social entrepreneurs, including John Bird, the founder of one of the most famous social enterprises in the world, _The Big Issue_.

“Don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet sector leaders and discover how you can identify and tackle social problems using business skills.”

Beyond the Bottom Line: The Warwick Emerge Forum is the sister conference of Emerge, the largest student social enterprise conference in the UK, run by Student Hubs and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford. The Warwick Emerge Forum is run by Warwick Hub, a branch of Student Hubs.

The conference has been organised by a team of students from the University of Warwick from a variety of degree backgrounds but all with a passion for social enterprise.

Student early-bird tickets cost £7 and are available at www.beyondthebottomline.org

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