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London Olympic Boroughs

Ethnic Minority Groups and Social Enterprise: A case study of the East London Olympic Boroughs


PhD researcher's name: Sara Calvo

University/Supervisors: Middlesex (Stephen Syrett; Leandro Sepulveda)

Partner organisation: Ethnic Minority Foundation

Impact highlights: Article published on a 3* ABS ranked journal; lecturer position and development of innovative teaching tools; and setting up of a social enterprise to do consultancy work and training

This PhD thesis aimed to gain greater insight into the nature and extent of migrant and ethnic minority involvement in social enterprise in East London within the context of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.

The student benefitted in many ways from this CASE Studentship:

  • The solid research training and experience in collaborative research gained through the PhD has been critical for the academic formation of this student.
  • Following the completion of her PhD, Sara enrolled on a training course to become a certified social enterprise advisor. Since then she has provided consultancy services for a range of social enterprises and NGOs in the UK, continental Europe and Africa (Tanzania), and she is currently involved on a research project in Latin America.
  • She also became a co-founder of a social enterprise called Minca Ltd, which delivers innovative educational and training courses on social entrepreneurship for academic institutions (universities and schools) and NGOs (www.livinginminca.org).

The PhD experience and subsequent career developments allowed her to apply and secure a Lecturer position to teach social entrepreneurship at Middlesex University Business School.

Since then she has taught on the subject and developed innovative interactive course material such as didactic games on social entrepreneurship (e.g. puzzles, cards) and dynamic videos e.g. to show students different ways of understanding social enterprise.

Sara has also published an article on Environment and Planning C (a 3*** ABS ranked journal); and submitted others to Journal of International Development, Local Economy and Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services.

Academic supervisors have also benefited enormously from this experience:

  • Through this research Sara's supervisors were able to accessing rich and original empirical material on social enterprise development among BME groups in London and the role of support agencies as well as contacts within the sector.
  • As a result, they were able to publish a practitioner working paper and an academic article - which became the first academic article on BME social enterprise published in the UK and continental Europe.
  • Research findings from this PhD have been quoted on an article published on The Guardian's on 25/11/10, entitled 'Avoiding the perception of social enterprises as a magic wand' - following an interview with the journalist.
  • Research findings have been also discussed on an event with MPs from the Equality Commission hold in the House of Commons in June 2012. The event was entitled 'Social Enterprise and Equalities'.

The partner organisation (Ethnic Minority Foundation) used the PhD findings to produce a policy briefing which was presented in an event on BME involvement in the 2012 Olympics. The event was attended by a range of BME organisations, practitioners and policy makers from different East London boroughs and helped EMF to raise its profile and developed its local networks.

The range and scope of benefits from this experience summarised above allows us to state that this has been a very successful case of CASE Studentship which has not only benefited to the student, supervisors and partner organisation, but has had wider benefits on society.

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