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Sector: Charities & Social Enterprises

Social enterprise feasibility study – would a great recycling idea really work?

What was the measure of success

A social enterprise, already running successful  furniture stores, had an idea for training the long term unemployed to re-upholster donated furniture and to then sell it. They wanted to know would it be a success, both making money and providing a social benefit.

Chair

What we did

We researched what seemed like a ‘no brainer’ reducing land fill, reusing old furniture by making it meet fire regulations and training people with a useful skill. We identified the issues re. the service and the marketing and then gave a full report on the options for taking the idea forward.

What we found was that to upholster different individual items would take a lot of skill and also be costly because all the materials would have to be cut to size and bespoke rather than the economies that you can get when you are producing the same style sofa each time, for example. Also people in the sector said that producing bespoke items was high risk as the customer often changed their mind and then you were left with a product you had invested a lot of time and money in which might not fit other people's tastes.

The impact

Our feasibility study identified that what seemed like a good idea was, in fact, extremely high risk and not likely to succeed either in terms of making money or social impact. The social enterprise didn’t go ahead thus protecting their future viability.

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