Charlotte Di Corpo: Investing in smaller enterprises

Charlotte Di Corpo, funding manager of Save the Children, explains why the charity is investing in smaller enterprises.

What does Save The Children do?

We’re a charity that works across the world to fight for children’s rights. Their rights for education, their rights for proper food and their rights for safety, amongst other things. We are global now. Save The Children UK does work in many countries and we feel, because of the strength of our brand and because of the size we are, we do have clout. So, although we’re working at a very local level with children and young people we’re making sure that their voices are heard right at the top so that we hope to bring about long-term change, a real systemic change, we want the government to hear their voices and hear what they have to say.

How does Save The Children work with smaller charities?

We’re delighted that there are smaller charities and we’re hoping that more will spring up as we go along because our programme certainly supports those smaller charities and even the enterprise against poverty project, that will be small grants going to local grass roots organisations that will be charities themselves on many occasions. And we really need them to deliver the work on the ground as well as our own so we can build a huge coalition if you like against poverty and the more voices there are the louder we’ll be.

How is Save The Children funded?

I think we have certainly been, charity is very much associated with people shaking buckets in the street and there are many different ways of giving now. Giving online, or giving over your phone. I think it has to be very quick and easy for people, and I think charities are great innovators because the need is so great and especially in the economic crisis it’s really pressing, there are more and more children that we will need to help that fall into poverty and so when there’s a need I think there’s always great thinking behind that and certainly people are very responsive to the different ways we offer them to give.

How has Save The Children changed the way it helps people?

Charity is not just about giving money, like a plaster over a wound. Nowadays we’re much more sophisticated at building sustainable models. So that when we go in there and help people, show them a route out if you want, then they can then take it on themselves. And Enterprise Against Poverty is exactly that, we’re helping young people learn how they can use a relatively small amount of money really to make a great change and I think every charity is looking at doing that, at supporting the people that need the most help and then when they pull out leaving them with nothing. When they pull out they have a richer base from which to grow themselves.

Is Save the Children run like a business?

Our founder Eglatine Jebb, way back, we were founded 90 years ago, we’re about to celebrate our 90th birthday. But, she said relief must be businesslike. And certainly what we will be doing through this project is giving the young people the skills to see how a business model can be used to improve their community. So to have the endorsement of someone like the Bank of Scotland to do that is fantastic.

How are you hoping the Bank of Scotland Social Enterprise Awards will help you?

We would like to set up a project called Enterprise Against Poverty with young people living in deprived areas of the UK. To allow them to receive small grants to work on projects that will really make a difference in their community. So for instance, a lot of young people in deprived areas don’t have a safe or particularly clean place to play and that’s important to them and it affects their lives every day. And it’s very different if someone comes along and tells them how they should improve that, whereas actually if you ask the young people, they have a fantastic range of ideas on how they can improve it. But often they’re lacking the resources, so Save The Children would give them the support in terms of helping them learn the skills and empowering them to find who else they need to work with to make it happen and we would also, through a small grants scheme, give them some financial support as well.

How did you formulate your idea for the Bank of Scotland Social Enterprise Awards?

We had already piloted this small grants scheme through Help Yourselves and had seen the benefits to the young people and also to the communities they created and so this new fund allowed us to build on this experience but make it much more targeted projects that will end child poverty.

Nick Britton

Nick Britton

Nick was the Managing Editor for when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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