Social Enterprise Day 2012: Day in the life of a Development Officer – Part 2
Mike Jones is a Development Officer for the Social Enterprise Support Project based in the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Abercynon Office and covering projects around Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Carmarthenshire. Here he shares an insight into a typical day in his working life:
It’s 6:30 a.m. and raining outside as I get up and have my breakfast and start to think about what the day has in store for me. I have to travel some distance to West Wales first where I have arranged a 9:00 a.m. meeting with a client and a business consultant.
So I set off from home at 7:30 allowing enough time for the morning traffic and for me not to be the one that everyone is waiting for. On arriving at my client’s office at 8:50 a.m. I find that everyone has made the meeting and we are able to grab a cup of coffee each and get on with business immediately.
I have been working with this particular client for some time and find that their needs are quite complex. They’ve already formed a Company Limited by Guarantee under which they can operate, but now find that they wish to raise further finance from the community. They will need to do this by issuing shares and their current legal structure is really unsuitable for this.
The main reason therefore for meeting them today is so that we can convert their current company into an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) thereby enabling them to issue community shares. I have already emailed their “Model Rules” a few days before by using support provided by Cooperatives UK based in Manchester.
My main task for today’s visit is to go through the Rules with them in order to be sure that all their needs have been met and that there are no documented errors to be found. I then have to check that the client has followed the correct procedure by ensuring that the membership has correctly met and voted on the conversion and that the paperwork bears this out.
I have also invited along a business consultant for this meeting who I have arranged to support the client further, by writing a business plan with them. Again I have arranged the papers beforehand and what is needed at this meeting is that I explain to the consultant his brief in front of the client and to sign an agreement for the work.
It’s now 10:40 a.m. and the meeting took a little longer than I expected but still the meeting achieved all that I had hoped for. Finally, a quick word with the consultant to ensure that he has all the information he needs and that the work will be completed within the agreed timescale.
By the time I have driven back to my office at Abercynon it’s 11:55, and the first thing I need to do is to inform Cooperatives UK that the client and directors have signed the paperwork and that they were being posted that day. In addition the preferred language of operation for my client is Welsh so now that I am satisfied that the set of Rules in my possession is the final document and there are no further amendments I am able to arrange their translation for circulation.
I then make a phone call to brief another consultant who will be preparing the “prospectus” so that he will be ready to support the share issue once the IPS registration and business plan are in place.
It’s now 1:00 p.m. and down to the local supermarket in order to buy a sandwich and stroll around for ten minutes or so before returning to the office by 1:35 p.m. and a cup of coffee as well as a quick look at what is on the news on the BBC website.
At 1:50 p.m. my sandwich is finished and it’s time to go through my emails. I note that amongst things which need my attention is an email from a client who has been writing her own business plan and has asked me to read through it and to give her some feedback.
By 2:00 p.m. after looking for salient points in the plan that need attention, I note that there is no clear reference to social objectives, no real reference to what services will provide the income needed to eventually be self-sustaining and that no budget has been produced. I phone the client and give my initial thoughts on the plan and arrange to meet with her in two days time, in order to provide more support or to see whether some consultancy may be needed after all.
It’s 2:50 p.m. and I need to drive and meet a group of young people in the Bridgend area who are setting up a social enterprise, which has had issues regarding its grant. They need to discuss issues and concerns that their funders have raised and have asked that I be there in order to help them explain their position. I arrive at 3:35 p.m. and we go through the issues.
The problems were not as great as I had initially feared but they do mean that the group needs to be a little less ambitious about its objectives and, because of their inexperience, they need to seek some mentoring support from someone with the relevant experience. As it happens, I know how they can find this support at no cost to them and I make a note and promise to speak to the person I have in mind the following day.
It’s now 4:05 p.m. and a client nearby has a project launch I was invited to attend, so I arrive there at about 4:20 p.m. and a quick cup of coffee before the speeches start. I feel quite happy that things are going so well for the client and that the Wales Co-operative Centre has been able to support them in their success.
After the speeches I take the opportunity to network with other invitees and get involved with discussions on issues and problems. I look at my watch and it’s already 5:20 p.m. and, oh dear it’s Thursday evening and I’d promised to take my wife shopping at 5:30 p.m…
If you are based in South Wales and need more information about support for Social Enterprises available through the Wales Co-operative Centre, visit our website www.walescooperative.org or call 0300 111 5050.