In 2008, following conversations at Pool Innovation Centre and later after meetings in Truro, resonating in my mind was that social enterprise held solutions to a wide range of inequities. En-route to co-establishing Fotonow as a CIC in 2009, the ideas of Bob Northey, a social enterprise development worker in Cornwall, chimed well with my perceived values and social enterprise felt a good shape to grow through.

Now, 15 years later, and with an unbroken exploration of social enterprise through many experiences, as a Director for Plymouth Social Enterprise Network and Jabulani CIC, that conviction for the potential of social enterprise to be an agent of profound social transformation remains. In 2009, Plymouth felt like a wild west of social enterprise, but I’ve watched how its culture has steadily permeated and defines our City.

In 2024, PSEN’s Anti-Racism Plan, seeks to define these values in the potential of transformative action: placing equity, and intentional anti-racist behaviour into the core structure of the enterprise, in support of evolving the values that underpin the network in the membership. To be a fit for purpose Social Enterprise City for the next ten years and beyond, this strategy is a vital foundation for the direction we travel.

Through social enterprise we nurture a culture for our children, and as a father to multiracial English girls, I hope they’ll see an improving Plymouth in which they say to themselves that this is a city I want to grow my business in; a city in which I clearly see myself; a city where young multi-ethnic people are confidently doing enterprise on their terms; a city that supports and vibrates with the multi-ethnic children of rural and urban England.

Social Enterprise in Plymouth must be a conscious part of the solution to the inequity experienced by people of colour. This anti-racism plan provides a compass to clearly consider anti-racist activity within our network. It presents a method to sustain us in being true to our values through making deliberate actions to be an ally against racism. Saying we’re not racist is not enough. Our actions are louder than our words.

Here are some of the recent actions we’ve undertaken to help deliver this plan:

  1. We have taken proactive steps to diversify PSEN’s board of directors. We made direct invitations to representatives of social enterprises who were strong candidates for their business activities, skills and experiences and who identify as global majority or from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic community. See our board of directors here
  2. We’ve been delivering our Barrow Cadbury Connect project for a year. This aims to to encourage more people from underrepresented communities to set up social enterprises and engage in the opportunities our PSEN network offers and also explores how to get more social investment finance and funding for underrepresented communities. For more information click here.
  3. We’ve made proactive steps to visit diverse communities across the city. For example delivering Social Enterprise Safaris with Jabulani and others and attending a breakfast meeting with the Plymouth Romanian Organization to meet potential social entrepreneurs and discuss the social enterprise economy in the city.
  4. We’ve partnered with the SEAS Programme in Plymouth. This gives fully funded social enterprise business advice to all and also includes specific support for social entrepreneurs from global majority or from Black, Asian or other minority ethnic communities.
  5. We’ve promoted anti-racism at some of the wider, city strategic forums and strategic boards we sit on such as the Growth Board, Inclusive Growth Group and others.
  6. We’ve made direct invitations to social enterprises who identify as being from a global majority or from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic community for our social investment, festival and awards events.
  7. We’re working with a student from University of Plymouth who is tasked with surveying diversity across the PSEN membership, specifically in the leadership and staff teams. This includes producing a diversity survey, poster and research into diversity in the social enterprise community.
  8. We’re exploring how we use our own supply chain to promote buying from social enterprises from global majority or from Black, Asian or other minority ethnic communities.

Jon Blyth, PSEN Director




Plymouth Social Enterprise Network