The idea for Community First came to mind in 2015 when we began to be approached by individuals and local organisations who were being supported by the good Samaritans and Volunteers who ran them.
Because of their self identified lack of digital skills, they felt they were not being able to fully benefit the organisations they were supporting. Something as simple as emailing, sharing information or reaching their most isolated members was an area that was causing great concern. This was a need we could see and luckily one we could most definitely meet.
We then began being asked for similar help but on a commercial level by small and start up-businesses.
Because we wouldn’t take any kind of payment, we started to receive boxes of sweets, biscuits and bottles of wine. Whilst this was very generous, it wasn’t too good for our waistlines or general health!! So when we were offered a donation towards future support we might give to others, a sort of Pay it Forward idea, CommunityfirstUK was formed.
We went on to register as a Social Enterprise limited by guarantee in 2016 where any profit our organisation makes goes back into other projects allowing us to support more people and organisations, not just with digital but with needs they have that we can help with.
SEE A NEED, MEET THAT NEED
What Is a Social Enterprise?
A social enterprise or social business is defined as a business that has specific social objectives that serve its primary purpose. Social enterprises seek to maximize profits while maximizing benefits to society and the environment. Their profits are principally used to fund social programs.
Understanding Social Enterprises
The concept of a social enterprise was developed in the UK in the late 1970s to counter the traditional commercial enterprise. Social enterprises exist at the intersection of the private and volunteer sectors. They seek to balance activities that provide financial benefits with social goals, such as providing housing to low-income families or job training.
Funding is obtained primarily by selling goods and services to consumers, although some funding is obtained through grants. Because profit-maximization is not the primary goal, a social enterprise operates differently than a standard company.
While earning profits is not the primary motivation behind a social enterprise, revenue still plays an essential role in the sustainability of the venture. Sustainable revenue differentiates a social enterprise from a traditional charity that relies on outside funding to fulfill its social mission. This goal does not mean social enterprises cannot be profitable; it’s simply that their priority is to reinvest profits into their social mission, rather than fund payouts to shareholders.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) identifies social enterprises as being highly participatory, with stakeholders actively involved and a minimum number of paid employees.