Interns Insights: Remote-working for a social enterprise

Marketing for a social enterprise

Interning for a company with such a diverse portfolio of social franchises means you are engaged with a variety of social issues on a daily basis. It was a great experience working with an organisation who are providing sustainable solutions to social issues. One who is quite deliberately contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Working as Marketing and Communications Officer I learnt more about social media strategies, writing press releases, speaking to journalists, brand design, nudge theory, and marketing to developing communities. I made first links with contacts using elevator pitches, and gained expertise in simplifying the business model explanation. The fact I was remote-working for all of this provided an extra challenge in ensuring I stayed in constant communication with my team.

With WSV there is the added advantage of being able to network with both the business community, as well as charities- and knowing that you have something to offer to both. All of this was made all the more valuable because, when sharing the message of a social enterprise, you know that you are doing social good. It felt incredibly positive to know WSV are not providing aid, which can make developing communities dependent on this support, instead they are providing people with a business which they can use to support their families and communities.

The Royal Society of Arts

For 4 weeks I worked part-time at the Royal Society of Arts in London. I used the open working space, met interesting people and helpful staff, and used the library space and facilities. During my internship I became a fellow of the RSA due to my work so far in social enterprise at university. Becoming a fellow connects you to a network of 28,000 people across the world whom you can contact for collaboration/guidance. I would recommend it if you are interested in social progress.

Start-up-life

Working for a start up was a dynamic and fast paced experience. There are very few obstacles slowing you down. Processes are streamlined, and meetings are efficient. As a small team, we socialised at lunchtimes, got to know each other, recognised each other’s strengths, collaborated on ideas and projects, and shared expertise and knowledge. Working as a team in this way made the experience so much more useful, as six minds are always better than one!

Tips on remote-working

Remote-working teaches you to manage your time, maintain motivation, and reach out to colleagues for information whenever needed. Here are a few lessons I took from the experience:

  • Morning and afternoon goals- Set yourself a main goal for each morning and afternoon, and stick to them. Other things will come along, but you need to get your big ‘rocks’ in first.
  • Colour code progress- If you’re a visual learner, like me, use a traffic light system to keep track of your progress on goals.
  • Sync your deadlines– If one of your deadlines relies on someone else meeting theres, check in with them regularly so that you can adjust your workload accordingly.
  • Remember no question is silly. It’s always better to contact a colleague to check detail than to make a mistake. Especially in a marketing role.

 

Beckie Thomas FRSA

 

 

Gender inequality- The unfortunate reality for developing communities.

 

When people say “we’ve already beaten gender inequality” this list of gender issues immediately comes to mind…

Domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, lack of access to education, arranged marriage, anti-abortion laws, rape culture, media sexualisation, gender roles, the glass ceiling, parental leave policies, sex trafficking, under representation in politics, breastfeeding in public, sexual harassment, women in sport, women in tech, body image, restricted freedom, honor killings.

An uncomfortable list, yet we clearly need to start somewhere. For many women in sub-Saharan Africa, the reality is that they must overcome barriers to education before they can aim for equality in other important realms. Nelson Mandela wishfully philosophised that

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

But globally, 65 million girls are not in school (Unicef 2013). So something has to change. We need people in communities to help break down the barriers preventing girls from the opportunity of education.

Menstruation prevents many girls from attending school. A girl who misses school due to menstruation for four days each month loses 156 learning days throughout four years of high school. Health advancements to support girls with menstruation could give them back 24 weeks of education. This would give them a more equal chance at education as their male peers.

Petal pads

‘Petal’ is one of three enterprises in the WSV portfolio. The micro-enterprise trains small groups of local people to become entrepreneurs and empower themselves and their communities by running a Petal franchise where they supply their communities with re-usable sanitary towels. As well as this, they educate their community on menstruation for free, as ‘87% of girls are completely unaware about menstruation and have no knowledge regarding its purpose as a biological process.’ (Unicef, 2012). This education breaks down the stigma and barriers that menstruation has historically caused for girls across the world.

When we provide a solution to one problem, such as menstruation stigma, we often provide solutions to multiple other gender issues. In the case of ‘Petal’, local women, and where possible men, are included in the process and are empowered to start a business together. This may address traditional gender roles in their communities, putting women on a more equal footing with the men. Furthermore, breaking down the stigma surrounding menstruation by educating the community will benefit not only school aged girls. It will benefit adult women too; freeing them from judgement and potential discrimination.

We are still a long way from achieving real gender equality. But the good news is that social enterprise ‘Petal’ is effective and ready to be franchised out to charities.