Growing up in a country like Guatemala has made me particularly sensitive to important issues like inequality, poverty, conflict and failed development initiatives. I’ve witnessed and experienced first-hand the tremendous impact this can have in people, local communities and society. Having worked as a volunteer, project manager and group facilitator for more than 10 years, I’m convinced that given the right skills, the inclusion of diverse backgrounds and the will to make things better, positive change and sustainable human development are possible. Coming from a business management background, I’ve always wanted to get involved in trying to solve these issues in more depth, especially using the social enterprise model. Back in 2003, I started volunteering for ICA Guatemala (community development through participation). I was offered to attend the 2003 International Technology of Participation Training of Trainers in Phoenix, USA. It was an intense and eye-opening experience. Spending 6 weeks with 20 people from different parts of the world, we realised how similar all our issues were. I also realised how passionate I am about community development and how essential it is to have a solid understanding of basic making skills that my father taught me as a child to solve different problems. After working several years as an IT consultant and later as a software project manager in Germany, I finally decided to go back to my passion: community, non-profit and social enterprise projects. A good friend told me about The Old Print Works project in Birmingham. Despite the project’s lack of financial resources, I decided to quit my job in Germany and move to the UK to volunteer full-time as manager of the whole project. Joining The Old Print Works has given me a better understanding of how important it is to bring back making skills and that the knowledge of how to make – both everyday objects and highly-skilled creations – is one of humanity’s most precious resources.
21 businesses & projects are already operating in The Old Print Works (March 2012). Some of our tenants are starting businesses for the first time. A few of them were working form home and decided to rent a studio to expand their businesses. Most of our tenants expressed that they decided to move to The Old Print Works for the strong community and social element, and the opportunities it offers to collaborate and grow their businesses. One of the best examples is ORT café, which opened at The Old Print Works in November 2011. Since then, they have managed to create a small hub for people in the area, offering affordable food and beverages, art exhibitions, music performances, discussions & debates, free language lessons, a regular swap shop, free wifi and weekly jazz nights. They have a strong network of supporters and volunteers, and they have been featured in BBC WM Radio, local newspapers, blogs and specialised publications. We’re currently in talks to develop partnerships with some of our tenants to help them kick-start their own community projects under The Old Print Works brand. Muzikstan launched in March 2012. In partnership with The Old Print Works, they bring musicians from different parts of the world for an evening of acoustic music and conversation. In each edition, the public may ask anything they want to know about the musicians, their instruments and their background. This model has proven to be very successful in reaching out and attracting people from Balsall Heath that wouldn’t normally approach us. Many of the studios mentioned above, have wider community impact. The Zoodio houses exhibitions, craft fairs, creative holiday activities for children and their parents. Bike Man Dan offers free bike-fixing workshops for local children and young people. The Community Darkroom is a facility where people can rediscover traditional and contemporary approaches and methods in the area of photography. Since September 2011, more than 120 children have taken part our educational programmes. In all our pilots of educational programmes, many teachers and parents have expressed how much children enjoy the sessions and in some cases, how their attention span and manual abilities have improved. Parents are even bringing their children form areas outside of Birmingham to our sessions. Some of the parents also participate in the sessions, turning the activity into a great opportunity for parents and children to work on a project together. Richard Newton’s CDT club offers opportunities for young children to improve their abilities to solve problems and follow instructions on difficult tasks. More than 100 volunteers have supported this project, many of them on a regular basis. Volunteers have acquired new skills from basic building, carpentry and electrics to marketing, project management and reception work. Like myself, at one point more than 8 full-time volunteers have been involved in the project. Currently, we have over 20 volunteers actively involved in different projects at The Old Print Works. We have created a new, exciting meeting space in Balsall Heath, using low-carbon, intermediate technology, in tune with and involving the community, saving an iconic listed building of local significance from ruin. Many local organisations, individuals, groups and businesses have expressed their interest in getting more involved in the project, and have frequently expressed how great it is to finally have a neutral meeting space in the area. Balsall Heath Library representatives are keen on starting projects with The Old Print Works. Groups like the Balsall Heath Local History Society have even used the space for important events, like their annual exhibition. It took place in October 2011, attracting over 1,000 visitors in a week. Other events like the screening of the new documentary ‘In Transition 2.0’ attracted people from Balsall Heath, Moseley and Kings Heath. More than 40 people signed up to support the creation of a Transition Initiative for Balsall Heath at The Old Print Works.
Since 2010 The Old Print Works has offered an historic, but bespoke, versatile, low-carbon and fun space in the heart of Balsall Heath that gives a vibrant community endless reasons to meet, learn, collaborate and grow. Designer-makers and making skills play a key role in rehabilitating and regenerating local economies, communities and the environment. We provide a unique and beautiful space of local significance, with a creative and welcoming atmosphere that enables everyone, especially designer-makers, to be more self-sufficient and resilient. We offer studio spaces for designer-makers, a unique venue, and educational programmes, activities & events. Our business model takes advantage of partnerships, collaboration and mutually beneficial volunteering. Our priority is the local community and re-localising making and purchasing; therefore we primarily work on reaching people in Balsall Heath, Sparkbrook in Birmingham. We also offer places and opportunities for people from the wider region in order to subsidise our local population. Balsall Heath has one of the largest Muslim communities in Birmingham and is well known as part of the ‘Balti Triangle’ of Asian restaurants, but is over-dependent on this market and needs to diversify its employment base. Balsall Heath is one of the 25 priority neighbourhoods identified by Be Birmingham and the local government . According to their 2010 Priority Neighbourhoods Health Profile, Balsall Heath has a young population compared to Birmingham overall. Around 13,800 people live in Balsall Heath and it is ethnically very mixed. The close surrounding area (LSOAs 083B and 084B) is in the 4% most deprived in the UK according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, which takes into account income, employment, training and education, health and disability, housing, living environment and crime.
Get Investment Ready: Business Plan Development
Pro Bono Time
30 - 40 hours over 2 months
This project is designed to help you create a solid and professional business plan as a means to raise capital, grant funding or tender for public/private contracts. The plan will also serve as an internal guide for staff.
A reviewed business plan including a
Revenue model, and a description of the social and/or environmental impact you create
SWOT and list of competitors
SMT Team biographies
- The professional and the organisation conduct a meeting to align project expectations and compose a checklist for the review.
- The organisation gives existing plan to the professional for review.
- The professional researches the organisation and the revenue model and discusses his/her thoughts to determine how much work needs to go into the plan to achieve the desired outcomes.
- The professional produces a first draft review.
- The professional and organisation meet to discuss the draft of the plan and determine next steps to finalise it.
- The professional does the final review of the plan and incorporatesfeedback.
- The professional delivers a final version of the plan and conducts a hand over meeting with the organisation delineating actionable recommendations.
- 5+ years experience working for a management consultancy, conducting business plan reviews or undertaking a similar role.
- Excellent writing skills.
- Experience writing or reviewing business plans.
- Strong lateral thinker.
- Robust commerical acumen.
- A complete business plan to be reviewed
- Clearly defined goals for the business plan (e.g. tendering for a public services contract)
- Commitment from the senior management team
- Flexibility to take forward actionable recommendations.