Foodcycle

The Best Social Enterprise Tour of East London

If you are looking for the best free self-guided tour of East London, this is my recommended route.

I recently worked with the British Council to guide a group mostly Hong Kong citizens around some of the best social enterprises in London. A great group NGO workers, academics, and social entrepreneurs.

Social Enterprise Tour Group

My fun Social Enterprise Tour Group!

This is the route and tour I gave them, and you can visit all of these places by yourself too.

FoodCycle

Bromley By Bow

FoodCycle is a charity social enterprise that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

We stopped for a talk from Helena Chouchani to learn more about their growing number of FoodCycle Hubs across the UK, and franchising plans for expansion. Of course we stayed for a yummy lunch too!

Bikeworks

Bethnal Green

Bikeworks runs a variety of community cycling programmes including employability for disadvantaged groups, all ability cycling, bicycle reuse and recycling, school cycle training and more. As a business it provides cycling services to consumers and organisations – so buy your next bike from here!

We were lucky to have a private tour from co-founder Jim Blakemore. He talked about the entrepreneurial journey, and how their social outcomes can continue to grow as the business grows.

Hackney Pirates

Dalston

Hackney Pirates is an enterprising and fun charity that works to develop the literacy, confidence and perseverance of young people in Hackney, so that they can achieve both in school and in the world beyond. And did I mention, their shop is an actual pirate ship?

Anthony Mensah gave us an enthusiastic tour of the ship, including secret passageways, ideas rooms and huge world under the sea. We loved seeing the work of the children displayed for sale in the shop, and all left feeling inspired to read more too!

FARM:shop

Dalston

FARM:shop is an urban farming hub, featuring urban agriculture experiments and a fresh food café. It’s also home to London’s first and largest aquaponics system. Follow the connections from fish tanks to lettuce rows. At the back, there is a hydroponic allotment, and a chicken coop!

We were surprised to find out that the system, once up and running, is quite easy to keep running. The farm, the animals, the plants and the café can all be run by a single person. That person is Andy Rasbery, and we were very happy that he could also spend time with us explaining the history of the shop and how all the systems work.

Stop by for a sandwich sometime. You won’t find fresher food in the city!

What do you think of this tour? What would you add? Let me know in the comments!

Tell me your thoughts!

Tell me your thoughts!

Gorge Walking Ballaglass Glen

How to inspire young people for 30 years

It turns out I might have been inspired to start this blog more than 20 years ago, and this story goes back even further than that.

This summer, I spent time on deserted beaches, lush hillsides, and walking in an unusual way up a beautiful glen in the Isle of Man.

And it’s not just me that thinks it’s special.

Biosphere Vannin

I was happy to learn that the Isle of Man is preparing to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

No, this doesn’t mean it’ll have a huge dome placed over the top of it, and the government will preserve it as it is for the next 100 years.

It means that the Island has a balanced and diverse mix of ecosystem and population, and that it’s worth well managing that mix.

Biosphere reserves are places where nature can flourish and the local economy can grow. I’m looking forward to seeing this project develop, especially as it will almost certainly help outdoor adventure and education organisations like the Venture Centre.

For more details and videos, go to the brand new Isle of Man Biosphere Vannin website.

The Venture Centre

About the same time as I was becoming a 13-year-old social investor, I visited the Venture Centre with school friends. Continue reading

Ramsey, Isle of Man

3 Ways to Stimulate Innovation on an Island

I live in London, but the Isle of Man is my homeland. It’s a beautiful place to grow up. It’s also a pretty great independent economic microcosm. If you can test out an innovative business on the Isle of Man, and succeed with it, it might just be scalable around the world.

What do you already know about the Isle of Man? The TT motorbike races? Mark Cavendish? The special tax laws?

None of the above? If you’ve spent any time with me, you’ll know that I love to talk about it.

The question everyone asks: is it a country?

No, not exactly. It’s a self-governing British Crown Dependency, which is not part of the UK. It is one of the oldest continuous democratic governments in the world. That’s why I’m so diplomatic.

What’s the vision?

After a recent meeting with the Government Department for Economic Development, it was great to learn that the Island has the ambition to become an international hub for tech and e-business innovation.

Not a lot of people know that e-business is the fastest growing sector of the economy on the Island, and it’s estimated to provide 90% of the economic growth in the Island’s emerging business sectors by 2020.  That’s a lot of growth from tech entrepreneurs.  How can we make it happen?

How the Island can stimulate innovation

  • Increase coworking options

Continue reading

br_dollars_and_change

Wharton Business School, irresponsible travel, and how you can have fun and do good at the same time.

Recently I was interviewed for the Wharton Business Radio Show, Dollars and Change.

It’s great to see a leading, Ivy League University putting resources into developing social impact initiatives like this.

As it’s a paid-for service, I can’t link to the actual 30 minute interview, but I’ve put details at the bottom of this article as to how you can sign up for a free trial if you’d like to listen.

What I can do is share four interesting points that came up from the interview.

Question: We’ve heard about your Beer-to-Beer Social Enterprise Learning Journey. This sounds amazing. We want to join. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Answer: As I’ve said before, your friends are amazing, but you don’t always have the chance to learn from them.  Sure, you can go out with them for a beer on a Friday night, but why not go out on a fun journey with them, and actually learn something new at the same time?

That’s what the Impact Hub Crawl is all about. Not just peer-to-peer learning, but Beer-to-Beer learning!  Here’s a video to explain more from my last Impact Hub Crawl, Beer-to-Beer social enterprise learning experience:

Question: Surely, some people just want “irresponsible” experiences. Are people really interested in responsible travel experiences? 

Continue reading

Impact Hub Islington

Your Friends are Amazing – 3 ways to Learn From Them

At the end of this month, I’m running the Impact Hub Crawl – In a warm up to this peer-to-peer (beer-to-beer!) learning event, I wanted to share with you three ways to learn from your friends.

 1) Teach to Learn

When I was a teacher in Japan, the joke was always – “Who learns the most in school?” “The teachers!”. OK, that’s not something that our global education systems should be proud of, but in traditional education it’s true.

Why is this true? Because to be able to teach something well, you have to know it really well. And if you know you have to teach it, you’ll really concentrate when you are learning it! What could you teach your friends?

Who's really learning here?

Who’s really learning here?

“We Learn…

10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what is discussed with others
80% of what is experienced personally
95% of what we teach to someone else”
William Glasser

2) Make and Spend Time with Them

Continue reading

Hubcrawl Logo

Join the Award Winning Impact Hub Crawl this month and #SparkSomeGood

I want to help you get started in Good Business. In work that makes the world better.

And if you’ve already started in good business, I want to support you to learn from your friends and peers. Some call this peer-to-peer learning. But this is Inspiring Adventures, and we call it beer-to-beer learning*!

And so, on Friday June 27th, you can:

Join the Impact Hub Crawl – The CoWorking, CoWalking, Social Adventure!

 

I’m very happy to announce that I’ve been given the social enterprise Spark Award by a fantastic organisation called UnLtd. It’s their mission to support social entrepreneurs too.

UnLtd Award Winner

Continue reading

Lifeguarding at Hub Westminster

How to Start a Social Enterprise You Love

This post has my top three tips for starting something that matters. This is how I started, and it can work for you too.

1) Subscribe to blogs

No one likes unwanted spam. But newsletters and emails from interesting people have poked me into action more times than I can remember.  And it’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss the posts from people you like, and from people like you.

  • For business, I love to read the Four Hour Work Week blog by Tim Ferriss. It’s full of interesting posts on lifestyle design, health, new books and online business. I’ve learned a lot from his work. I like to read it with a social entrepreneurship lens. What would a social Tim Ferriss do?
  • For travel, I love This Battered Suitcase by Brenna Holeman. She writes wonderful stories of her adventures around the world, and also around my back garden here in East London.  I love it when she writes about causes she is passionate about, like Femme International, or questions irresponsible tourist practices like chumming for sharks.
  • For social impact, I always read The Impact Hub London Newsletter, and not just because I work here creating Hubcademy.  It’s great, and important, to hear about all the relevant, local events going on near you.  If you live in London, and you’re interested in making an impact with your life and work, join this list.

You can get all my blog posts in your email too – just enter details on the right at the top of the page. Never miss an Inspiring Adventures post!

I also have a newsletter, and I’d love to know what you’d like to read more about.  Answer my 17 second two question questionnaire, so that I can give you more of exactly what you want.

Thanks so much.

2) Write down ideas

Continue reading

Project Hub Yangon Co-founder, Allison Morris

How to Start a Social Enterprise From Anywhere in the World

You want to start a company that makes the world a better place. How are you going to do that, then? I’ll tell you how. And I won’t just tell you how to start one in the UK, I’ll tell you how to do it in Myanmar too. And if you can do it in Myanmar, I’m pretty sure you can do it anywhere in the world.

1. Join a community.

I love coworking spaces. I love to visit and work from new ones in new countries. In London, I spend most of my time in Impact Hub Westminster, and I’m even on their website as a coworking lifeguard.

Joining a supportive community is a vital ingredient in your start-up success, so do it! Where else are you going to make friends that get you through your hard times, and help you celebrate your wins?  Check what’s around you and go for a look, or join a tour of coworking spaces in London.

Project Hub Yangon

What do you do if no community exists? You start one. That’s exactly what Allison Morris (pictured above), and Pete Silvester did with Project Hub Yangon. The space launched in 2013, but the community building work really began when the pair hosted Global Entrepreneurship Week in Myanmar in 2012. They hoped that Project Hub Yangon would become a place for like-minded people to discuss ideas, work on projects and create businesses. That’s exactly what’s happened.

Finding new members, and managing the space are the daily battles of every coworking space, but their vision has become a reality. In their first year, as well as hosting the space for members with local space manager Zar Chi, they supported 5 local start-ups through a sponsored incubation program.

“It’s still a lot of work, but it’s worth it to support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.” Allison Morris, Co-founder.

When I got there, they’d just installed their third independent internet connection, to deal with Myanmar’s notoriously unpredictable service. It was one of the fastest I found in Yangon. They’ve even got a an emergency battery that keeps the wi-fi going even when all the other electricity goes out!

If you’ve got some work or research to do while you are in Yangon, definitely check it out.

2. Get Support.

Continue reading

Yangon Bakehouse

3 Social Enterprises You Will Love In Myanmar

When you go to Myanmar, definitely visit these places.  You’ll get great food and souvenirs, and you’ll truly be helping the local people who need it.  The amazing power of social enterprise – do what you love and make the world a better place at the same time!

As I mentioned in my previous post “5 Fun Things More People Should Do In Myanmar“, there are three great social enterprises that I recommend you visit on your stay.  Here’s a bit more information about each of them:

For your lunch – Yangon Bakehouse

As a customer, what you see when you walk into Yangon Bakehouse (YBH), is a small bustling cafe with a delicious looking menu, and mouth-watering baked goods on display. I ordered a chicken wrap with fresh salad, fresh juice, and had a brownie and coffee for dessert.  If I’d have been passing by, that might have been all I’d have noticed. Freshly prepared, high quality food.  But behind the scenes there is another world going on, that sets this cafe apart from the rest in Yangon. The next day, a came back and met co-founder Cavelle Dove, who explained more.

“YBH runs an apprentice training programme for local women that have come from difficult circumstances” Says co-founder Cavelle Dove. “All women that join the apprenticeships are referred from specialist agencies that work with women in need.”

“The program sees the women training with YBH for 10 months. They become part of a family. During the apprenticeship, they are paid for their work, and often for the first time they feel a sense of security. They are able to access healthcare, and plan for their children’s education. By the end of the program, the women have key skills that can be transferred to other restaurants and bakeries around Yangon, and will be especially well suited to the high value work in the growing tourism sector. “

The Yangon Bakehouse shop front maybe small, but the dreams and plans are big. New partnerships and locations were being put into place when I visited, so have a look at the Yangon Bakehouse website for the latest information on new locations, and more beautiful photos.

For your souvenirs – Pomelo Yangon Continue reading

Sunset in Bagan

5 Fun Things More People Should Do In Myanmar

In this post, I’ll take you through 5 things I think more people should do in Myanmar, and why. If you haven’t already, be sure to read my previous post – 5 Beautiful Things Everybody Gets To See in Myanmar.

Sometimes it seems that every tourist in Myanmar is trying to do things that no one is doing. There are some great things to see and do, but if you yearn for  experiences that are a little more rare, try a few of these.

1) Sunrise from anywhere, in Mandalay

Everyone is pretty much obsessed with sunset in Myanmar. For good reason – it’s beautiful. But don’t forget about the equally beautiful sunrise.

On my first morning in my lovely guesthouse (Ma Ma’s Guesthouse) in Mandalay, I went up to the roof balcony at about 6am.  By 6.30am, the sun was starting to peak over the hills, giving me my first daylight view of the city.  I also managed to accidentally give a good scare to one of the guesthouse staff. She came up to sweep the floor, and wasn’t expecting a foreigner behind the door taking pictures. So I took a picture of her too.

They say Mandalay Hill is an excellent place for sunrise and sunset. I didn’t make it there that early. For me, it was a fine, deserted walk up in the middle of the day. Occasionally I was stopped and asked to pose for photos. To be back in Asia is to be a mini-celebrity again!

2) A Scooter Trek from Hsipaw Continue reading