The great thing about social enterprise is we can find examples of it all over the world, supporting different social or environmental goals, yet in different models. You may remember ‘Who gives a crap?’ and their model donated to other social enterprises as part of their commitment to reinvest profits. This month we have another unique social enterprise model – meet Ginerosity, a Scottish social enterprise which, you guessed it, sells gin! We caught up with Colin to find out more:
Tell us a bit about Ginerosity in terms of what you do and where the idea came from.
Ginerosity is the world’s first social enterprise gin. Its mission is to support young adults into education, training and employment.
Produced by the award-winning Pickering’s Gin, Ginerosity launched in Edinburgh in November 2016, quickly attracting acclaim for its delicious gin and praise for its social enterprise aims.
Working across the UK, we have supported young adults to volunteer overseas with the charity Challenges Worldwide and attain respected business qualifications from the Chartered Management Institute. We have recently taken on one of the very people we helped fund to do their CMI qualification.
Comprising the board of Spirits for Good CIC (the legal structure for social enterprise in the UK) are Chris Thewlis, social entrepreneur and board member of Social Enterprise Scotland; David Moore, drinks industry and export specialist, chief executive of Flavourly.com, and Director of Craft Beer Clan of Scotland and Fusion Whisky Limited; Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell, co-founders of award-winning Pickering’s Gin; and Dave Mullen, Executive Creative Director at marketing agency Story UK.
Ginerosity is a beautifully balanced London Dry gin that is both accessible and complex. It’s produced with 10 ethically sourced botanicals (juniper, coriander, angelica, lemon, lime, orange, lemon myrtle, heather, cardamom and cloves) and makes for a sublime G&T (garnish with mint). Tasting Notes: Fresh, light and bold flavours of citrus and juniper give way to sweetness with a subtle hint of peppery spice, with a crisp dry finish.
How is the social enterprise scene in the UK generally?
Very healthy and growing! There is increasing awareness of what social enterprises are, helped by membership organisations such as Social Enterprise UK and Social Enterprise Scotland. But more and more so, it’s because people want business and industry to be a positive presence if their lives, and to benefit their communities – our society – rather than private shareholders. This is reflected in the huge growth in the number of social enterprise businesses as well as the number of people directly or indirectly employed by them. Another contributing factor is that, crucially, the sector is well regulated and transparent.
You have an interesting social enterprise model (selling a product that has little to do with where your profits go), how does this work in practise, especially regarding deciding where your profits go and measuring this social impact?
We have appointed an independent panel of “Ginerosity champions” to direct our funding. These are 10 industry experts from fields as diverse as Scotch whisky distilling, law, dentistry, film-making, business consultancy, accountancy, hospitality, local government, etc.
We worked with Challenges Worldwide last year because the programme they offered had a far-reaching social impact, and as we continue that positive relationship we are also looking to work with other organisations to build our social impact among young adults across the UK.
We have also partnered with University of Edinburgh whose Dr Sarah Ivory is observing the business and is writing a social impact report so we can have an independent measure of our impact. This report will also be used as a case study at university, further supporting the education of young adults.
Many companies have growing CSR departments, would you encourage them to think about becoming a social enterprise instead and why OR WHY not?
Good question. We would certainly want to see more and more social enterprises, and if businesses change to reflect the growing demand for positive social aims then that can only be a good thing. But it’s not always possible and we respect that. Like private companies, social enterprises are also focused on maximising profits, but it’s for, ultimately, the social good. If a business has that philosophy, maybe it should consider restructuring, and certainly there are plenty of respected agencies and organisations who can support them. If a company is looking to simply gain some PR, it’s probably not for them.
What advice would you give to any wannabe social entrepreneur out there?
Just because you want to set up a social enterprise doesn’t mean you can ignore basic good business practise. In fact, there’s an argument that you should be even more focused and driven! Look at your costs, margins and operations. Develop a solid and realistic business plan. Consider issues such as media, marketing, trademarks, and health and safety. And take the advice and help that is out there. It’s a strong, vibrant and growing community and the majority of people are keen to help. Also, do try to enjoy it! Starting a business is hard work but it should also be rewarding emotionally! Lastly, at the end of the week, put your feet up and enjoy a well-deserved Ginerosity and tonic!
We certainly know a few who do put their feet up and enjoy one or two, and not necessarily at the end of the week! A great read from Colin, demonstrating it’s all about mentality and approach. His comment about remembering or developing good business practise is key too. Time and time again we see social enterprises fail because they forget they’re there to make money, if you’re an NGO and have all the heart but not so much business prowess, get in touch and we can help you with this.