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The Social Business Trust Story

June 12, 2024 - June 12, 2024   

The Social Business Trust, (SBT) is an innovative support organization for social enterprises. Providing investment and business support to ensure growth SBT’s portfolio includes the likes of the London Early Years Foundation, Shakespeare Schools Festival and our very own sister company Fashion Enter.

Recently featured in The Times Raconteur pullout on Corporate Philanthropy (23rd October 2014) Adele Blakebrough Chief Executive of SBT explains how she met Damon Buffini, then chairman of Permira, and how the Social Business Trust was founded back in 2010.

Social enterprise is in Adele’s blood, growing up her father ran a charity that helped the homeless and individuals with drug addictions. Adele (pictured right) followed suit she worked for various charities and with two other social entrepreneurs created a networking event in London called “The Great Banquet”. The collaboration worked so well that three years later the Community Action Network was formed with the aim to promote social enterprise and create a better understanding of the concept.

A few years later she met Damon Buffini, “I’m 100 per cent from the social sector and he’s 100 per cent from business,” Adele tells the Raconteur. “These worlds rarely mix; each is suspicious of the other.”

Damon also shared Adele’s passion for social enterprise and for the benefits that the private sector could bring. The pair formed Breakthrough in 2005 to provide investment and business support to social enterprises.

This went so well that Damon and Adele decided to use the Breakthrough model to create something larger and more sustainable. The idea was to provide a wide range of support and advice for social enterprises so Damon and Adele put together a grouping of six firms who could offer different skills and experiences: EY, Bain & Co., Credit Suisse, Clifford Chance, Thomson Reuters and, of course, Permira.

By the latter end of 2010, the Social Business Trust was formed, equipped to offer extraordinary expertise courtesy of the SBT’s partners who have advised literally thousands of clients over the years. SBT now has a portfolio of 11 social enterprises to which it commits long-term funding and a wealth of professional expertise.

The SBT believe that there has never been a more important time for social enterprises to exist and to thrive. But they will only do so if they have a robust business model and a desire to grow. By working with the SBT, the aim is to help social enterprises achieve their ambitions and, thereby, help those that can in turn make a difference.

Adele comments to the Raconteur: “This is so different from a firm’s employees having a day off work to paint a school or rattling a tin on a Saturday morning. If companies really want to make a difference, this is the best way.”

Jenny Holloway CEO of Fashion Enter adds:
“Working with SBT has been a complete eye-opener! It has made me realise the importance of strategic direction and aided in the implementation of the right Key performance Indicators for the company. When you own your own company you become consumed by the work – SBT has provided vital support for me to grow as an individual and therefore the company as a whole. I couldn’t have asked for better support. My advice for anyone considering seeking the support of SBT is don’t delay – get that application form in today!”

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