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Community business
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Quick read: key findings

The evidence shows that community businesses can have a positive impact on individual and community wellbeing. This happens in multiple ways, by providing a range of activities and services in response to local needs.

How do community businesses affect community wellbeing?

  1. Three main ways community businesses impact community wellbeing
    Community engagement
    Many local people are involved in the governance and delivery of services with community businesses. Outreach to the wider community, or a specific – potentially  marginalised – group identified as needing the services provided. This engagement meant community businesses have a good understanding of local needs and increased community involvement. The result is increased individual wellbeing, and a better place to live through better social cohesion and stronger social relationships, as well as increased pride in the local area and a stronger local economy.
  2. Skills development
    By improving skills and education, community businesses help people learn new skills and improve their confidence. They provide ‘on the job’ training, as well as training and education specifically aimed at improving people’s employability prospects. However, they also provide training support that responds to local concerns, like climate
    change and food production.Community businesses often provide volunteering opportunities that help people to gain skills, confidence and connections, which could assist them to get back into employment.
  3. Strengthening community infrastructure
    For example, making use of local buildings; providing a trusted focal point for people to meet; or facilitating local collaborations.

you’re part of something larger than just that project, it’s a movement, and I think that gives it more credibility and I think it makes you feel like you’re more a part of something”
Community reporter about training at a community newspaper

How community businesses achieve wellbeing outcomes

The following model shows the impact community businesses have on community wellbeing. It highlights how those impacts are achieved, and what risks can impact them.

The themes highlighted in bold represent those mechanisms, influencing factors or outcomes for which there is strong or promising evidence.

community business logic model- available in the briefing

Three areas of potential risk for effective delivery and impact

The review found a number of risks that could stop community businesses from having a positive impact:

  • Difficulty recruiting or managing staff and volunteers.
  • Lack of experience or skills needed to manage assets, and the financial risks involved in asset transfer.
  • Lack of available funding appropriate to the needs of the business; as well as conflicts between the available funds and the original values of the community business.

Definitions

Community wellbeing

Community wellbeing ‘is the combination of social, economic, environmental, cultural, and political conditions identified by individuals and their communities as essential for them to flourish and fulfil their potential.’ From this 2008 study by Wiseman and Brasher (page 358).

Community businesses

  • Are locally rooted.
  • Trade for the benefit of the local community.
  • Are accountable to the local community
  • Have broad community impact.

Definition from Power to Change

Close Quick read: key findings

The big idea

Community business and activities

What evidence did we find?

What makes a strong and resilient community business?

Evidence into action

Evidence gaps and recommendations for further research

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