The Indigo Group is a social enterprise that delivers early years, out of school care and youth services in and around Glasgow. We caught up with CEO, Deborah Grant one year on from her participation in our International study tour to Seoul, Republic of Korea, incorporating SEWF2014 and Shanghai, China.
Why did you decide to participate in our International Study Tour?
I took up post as CEO in 2008 and have navigated the organisation through restructure, rebranding and acquisition to its current position as a recognised local brand. I am also Chair of Glasgow Social Enterprise Network that connects and supports more than 100 social enterprises in Glasgow. I attended the first World Forum in 2008 and I was keen to experience how the movement has developed globally. In my roles as leader and chair I appreciate the importance of an outward facing approach and the importance of linking the bigger picture to what we do in our day jobs.
What did you hope to gain?
I was keen to raise the profile of our Glasgow network as contributors to the social enterprise movement. Organisationally, I was keen to experience the successes and challenges similar social enterprises encounter and the policy frameworks that support these. Let’s not forget the chance to spend some serious quality time with like minded individuals and the ‘movers and shakers‘ in the field
What was your highlight?
The study visits! The most empowering of which for me was the time spent at The Shanghai Young Bakers. These young individuals (17-23 years) travel from villages where opportunities are scarce to live, work and learn French Bakery in a big city. They often have no English and contact with home is limited. The success of these young people as they gain skills and employment may not be a perfect solution, but the impact of this is clearly making a difference to the lives of young people.
This is closely followed by The Beautiful Store, not forgetting my introduction to a diet of Kimchi!
How did you benefit from participation?
Personally, I made connections there that simply would not have happened had I not attended. These have been extremely useful to my organisation as we look to strengthen our board and governance processes, grow our organisation and establish our brand. We have formalised our sabbatical policy as we support staff to fulfil their aspirations and broaden their horizons.
As a direct result of attending the World Forum I made connections with a similar but MUCH larger organisation from Toronto and was invited to spend an incredible week with them and other social enterprises in the Greater Toronto Area in November. I was subsequently offered post as Chief Operating Officer, which I have accepted!!
GSEN has further strengthened its links with Toronto Social Enterprise Network and Elizabeth our GSEN Co-ordinator was able to do a dual purpose visit combining work with Glasgow Caledonian University and visiting Toronto SE Network.
Finalising my paper on attitudes to Social Enterprises and Public Service Delivery, which was inspired by attending the World Forum.
Would you recommend this tour and why?
Whole-heartedly, yes! The experiences and opportunities that result from these visits are indeed what you make them. This is no doubt a time when you get a chance to spend a serious amount of time getting to know people who you may never get to hang out with again.
To view the picture gallery and report form the 2014 International Study Tour, click here
For further information and to register your interest for the 2016 international study tour or to discuss your event needs, contact us