BME campaigner Claire Dove

The Social Enterprise Coalition has named pioneering entrepreneur and BME campaigner Claire Dove as its new chair.

The Social Enterprise Coalition is the national body for social enterprises – businesses set up to tackle a social or environmental need.

Well known examples include The Big Issue, Cafe Direct and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, but there are many other social enterprises operating in a wide range of industries from farmers markets and recycling companies to transport and childcare providers. Claire Dove MBE, DL has been a key player in the social enterprise movement since the early 1980s and will replace outgoing Chair Baroness Glenys Thornton.

Ms Dove is the CEO of Blackburne House Group, a training led organisation which runs a number of social enterprises providing career opportunities for women in non-traditional sectors such as construction and IT.

She has been extremely active in shaping the strategic direction of social enterprise policy at a national level since the inception of the Coalition and has also been a board member for over a year.

Jonathan Bland, chief executive of the Coalition said: “I am thrilled to be working with such a successful businesswoman and dedicated pioneer of the movement.

“Claire’s achievements in Merseyside are tangible proof of how markets can be used to serve communities. The Coalition will be drawing on her wealth of experience to continue the fight to place social enterprise at the heart of the economy.”

Ms Dove’s entrepreneurial skills have helped Blackburne House grow into an award-winning and extremely successful business with social aims. It not only helps disadvantaged women into work but is self sufficient thanks to its flourishing conference facility, cafe, nursery, health club and design consultancy, all of which run on a profit.

Claire Dove said: “I am proud and privileged to be given this opportunity to continue the fantastic work started by Baroness Glenys Thornton.

“In the 1980’s I used social enterprise to help break the barriers to women accessing careers in male dominated markets. Now I want to use those skills to help social enterprises gain the access they deserve to all markets – and close the current gap between political rhetoric and the reality on the ground.

“Social enterprise has come so far since the formation of the Coalition, and I look forward to playing a key role in harnessing the power of business for social change.”

Earlier this year Baroness Glenys Thornton announced she would be stepping down as chair after six years leading the Coalition.

However she will continue to act as a political champion for the movement, with key upcoming projects including advancing the APPG on social enterprise and developing the Coalition’s research agenda. Baroness Thornton is also taking over as chair of the Innovation Exchange and the Third Sector Advisory Group on Commissioning.

Baroness Glenys Thornton said: “I am confident that the future of the Social Enterprise Coalition is secure in the hands of the new chair. Claire Dove brings direct experience of having led a successful and prominent social enterprise, bags of energy and a hefty dose of charisma.

“I am proud to have been the first, founding chair of the Coalition. I am even prouder to have been part of the work we have done to put social enterprise at the centre of the political and economic agenda and to establish social enterprise as a respected way of delivering public services. Although I am stepping down as chair I will continue to be as active as ever in my support for the social enterprise movement.”

Social Enterprise