Social Enterprise Support

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Social Enterprise Support

See also: Understanding Social Enterprise

Baker Brown Associates - Professional Development for Social Enterprise Advisers

A one year training programme offered by Baker Brown Associates, leading to the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) VRQ Level 5 Certificate in Social Enterprise Support. The programme includes nine, one-day workshops held at monthly intervals in Bristol, starting 12 March 2013.


This programme equips participants with the skills and knowledge to become certified social enterprise advisers. It is designed to meet the professional development needs of a wide variety of participants, ranging from freelance consultants and development practitioners, to social enterprise support staff working for large national organisations. Previous participants have included people from Co-operatives UK, Locality, the Plunkett Foundation, the Young Foundation, Supporters Direct, and the Wales Co-operative Centre.

The programme combines theory and practice in equal measure. It examines the concepts underpinning social enterprise, including current definitions, the social enterprise business model, and the legal, organisational and financial frameworks that support sustainable social enterprises. It also explores the processes and professional competencies of working with clients, in a variety of settings, and utilising a range of different support styles. Participants are required to produce and present an analytical case study of a social enterprise they have visited. They are also expected to provide business support to clients, which will be peer reviewed at workshops.

Eligibility criteria

There are no qualification-based entry requirements for this programme, but participants must have the generic competencies to study at Level 5, which is equivalent to foundation degree level. The only other eligibility criteria is that participants must currently be working in a business development role supporting social enterprise, and be actively engaged in client support work with emerging or established social enterprises during the course of the programme.

Delivery Methods

The programme consists of nine one-day workshops, held at monthly intervals, in Bristol. Each workshop is preceded by guided preparatory work, which generates materials for the workshop and assessment evidence for the qualification. Workshops last six hours and the preparatory work for each workshop takes approximately three hours to complete. The assessment for the qualification is based on a series of practical tasks and assignments, based on the professional practice of social enterprise advisers.

There is a course handbook which provides details of the qualification, the assessment requirements, preparatory work, workshop notes, and sources of additional and supplementary learning materials. The handbook also serves as a guide to good practice in promoting, developing and sustaining social enterprises; methods of working with clients; and professional practice standards.

Participants are required to conduct a case study investigation of an actual social enterprise, and to provide advice and support to social enterprise clients over a period of at least six months. They are expected to keep a full record of their progress with clients in line with professional practice standards.

The workshops draw heavily on the participants’ case studies, client case work, and personal professional development. These practical experiences are used to test current theories and concepts of social enterprise, and to support participants’ work with clients. Teaching methods include tutor-led seminars, group discussions, syndicate work, participant presentations of case studies, and client case reviews. In addition to the workshops, all candidates have a minimum of three hours of personal tuition, in the form of either face-to-face meetings, telephone contact or email correspondence.

The course and qualification meets SFEDI Business Support standards 1 to 8 plus the SFEDI standards in Social Enterprise Support A to D. It also satisfies the qualification requirements for membership of the Institute of Consulting (IoC) and the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs’ (IoEE) faculty of enterprise support.

Programme Content

The programme is based on the ILM course specification for the Certificate in Social Enterprise Support ( and incorporates the following units:

  • Understanding Social Enterprise
  • Promoting Social Enterprise
  • Developing Social Enterprises
  • Sustaining Social Enterprises
  • Personal Professional Developmen

Understanding Social Enterprise and Personal Professional Development are mandatory units for the Certificate. In addition, learners must complete one of the three optional units: Promoting Social Enterprise, Developing Social Enterprises or Sustaining Social Enterprises. In order to achieve the Certificate, candidates must attend the whole programme, and satisfactorily complete the assessment requirements for the two mandatory units plus one optional unit. Participants who have already achieved the Understanding Social Enterprise Award within the last three years are exempt from repeating this unit.


The Understanding Social Enterprise unit is assessed by an analytical case study assignment focusing on an emerging or established social enterprise.Candidates are required to investigate the business model of the social enterprise, concentrating on its organisational and financial structures, and identifying the support needs of the organisation. Candidates are also required to suggest improvements to their case study organisation, based on comparisons with other social enterprises. The Personal Professional Development unit is assessed using a portfolio assembled by candidates of their personal development activities over a minimum of six months. The portfolio should contain evidence of their personal development needs and plans, personal and service reviews of their ork with clients, their network development activities, and the steps they have taken to improve their skills and performance as social enterprise advisers. The three optional units share a common approach to assessment, although the assessment criteria are specific to each unit. Candidates will be assessed against the unit which most closely matches their work as social enterprise advisers and the development stage of their clients. All three units require candidates to maintain a portfolio of their work with clients, providing evidence of the approach taken to advising clients, and the meetings and progress they have made, together with feedback from the clients themselves on the performance of the candidate.

Completing these assignments and assembling the portfolios involves 138 hours of notional learning time, although much of this time will be spentundertaking the normal practical work duties of a social enterprise adviser.

Programme delivery

The programme is delivered by Jim Brown, principal consultant for Baker Brown Associates. He has over 30 years experience as an adviser to third sector organisations including charities, community groups, co-operatives and other forms of social enterprise. He was responsible for researching and devising the original SFEDI National Occupational Standards in Social Enterprise Support in 2005, and for developing the social enterprise support qualifications with the ILM and Social Enterprise London in 2007. This programme will be the thirteenth time Jim has run it in the last five years, training over 200 development practitioners.


The fees for the programme are £1,750 plus VAT (£2,100 including VAT). A discount of 15% is available for participants who are self-financing or work for small organisations with an annual turnover below £100,000. The course fees include student registration with the ILM. They also include tea and coffee at the workshops, but not food at lunchtimes. There are numerous places to buy food locally.


The programme is being hosted by Triodos Bank at their headquarters in Deanery Road, Bristol BS1 5AS. Located in central Bristol, it is a pleasant 20 minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads station.

Further enquires

Please contact Jim Brown at Baker Brown Associates for a pre-enrolment discussion about your professional development needs and the suitability of this programme: Telephone: +44 117 925 0824

Source: BBA,