Business Model: The Grow Organisation

The 'umbrella enterprise' acquires social enterprises to train disadvantaged people for work

The Grow Organisation is an 'umbrella enterprise' that acquires social enterprises and helps them become accredited to provide training for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market.

The Grow Organisation began in 2006 as Mow & Grow, winning contracts for gardening and training in Suffolk. The idea came to founder Trevor Lynn when his wife complained about antisocial behaviour in his local area.

He received training and financial help from social entrepreneurs support organisation UnLtd, and won a council contract to cut grass.

"The Grow Foundation has increased its size by accessing multiple income sources," says Lynn.

"If you're paid to provide training, you have a second income stream," he says.

"We've realised that any business that joins our organisation is able to receive accreditation from the National Open College Network to provide training within 24 hours.

"As a result we've recruited several other businesses, some of which we've made into social enterprises, including leisure company Hospitality & Grow. We're the only social enterprise to run a casino."

The Grow Organisation is a company limited by shares, and underneath it are 15 other companies limited by guarantee, including the original Mow & Grow, all of which have non-profit distribution and social purpose written into their constitutions.

And true to the organisation's name, it is growing fast. From a turnover of £20,000 in its first year, the organisation is predicting it will make £4.6m in 2009.

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