Aston Villa Football Club and the Premier League have embraced social enterprise in an innovative new programme to support and improve their work in the local community.
Developed in partnership with RIO’s Social Enterprise Qualification (SEQ) and Birmingham City University’s (BCU) Business School, the Premier League’s Social Enterprise Academy is a league-leader: the first programme of its kind to engage young people aged 14-16 in the study of business, using a football club as a template for learning.
Young people in the Aston Villa Social Enterprise Academy will learn basic business principles in a socially enterprising context and will be supported to take the business knowledge they learn and apply it to a project that makes a positive difference to their own community.
In the year-long Academy programme, young people are taught for two hours every week by a dedicated social enterprise tutor. At the end of the course, young people are given the chance to put their proposed business model into practice, with any profits going back to the club’s own community programmes, to club charity partners or to their own school community.
Every young person who successfully completes the programme will receive the Social Enterprise Qualification at Silver level, as well as a certificate in Business and Enterprise.
A group of young people from Small Heath School and the Q3 Academy in Birmingham are the first intake to the new Aston Villa Social Enterprise Academy and recently got the chance to pitch their project proposals, ‘Dragon’s Den’ style, to a judging panel including two Aston Villa Premier League footballers!
Nathan Baker and Antonio Luna from AVFC attended the pitch event at BCU Business School to hear the business ideas put forward by the young people.
After assessing the business proposals from both schools – which included ideas to tackle homelessness and obesity – the players awarded each group £200 seed funding to help get their social enterprise schemes off the ground. Associate Dean at BCU Business School Paul Bowker and student Martina Aleksieva also sat on the panel.
Ravi Masih, Head of Villa in the Community, said, “The interest shown by Nathan and Antonio was first-class. These guys are professional footballers – instantly recognisable – and it’s fair to say that the students were thrilled to be delivering their project plans to them, though they were a bit nervous also!”
Paula Winzar, Lead Developer for the SEQ said, “Aston Villa Football club have taken on delivering SEQ to help young people gain enterprise and employability skills, creating mini businesses that generate money for the charities the club supports. It’s a great model and partnership, and SEQ is delighted to be working with them.”
This concept of running a successful business that puts its profits back into the community to solve an environmental or social issue is the very essence of social enterprise, and it is the concept that drives the Social Enterprise Qualification, a qualification that accredits social enterprise learning at Level 1 or Level 2 on the Qualifications Credit Framework. Developed and piloted in 2011 by the Real Ideas Organisation and SFEDI Awards, it is now an internationally-recognised qualification used in a range of settings around the world.