DR!VE was an ambitious project, designed and managed by Selnet, aiming to support more than 200 new-start and existing businesses to grow in Lancashire over two years.

This project is now completed, however –

  • Selnet was founded by social enterprises, for social enterprises – our specialist support is available for our sector. We may be able to support you through a funded programme free of charge, or if you are not eligible, we will give you a transparent quote of the cost.
  • If you are a private sector/mainstream business looking for advice and support and we can redirect you based on your needs.

Whether you need start up or growth support, or advice on operating a successful social enterprise, get in touch to see how we can help. Phone us on 01772 200690 or email hello@selnet-uk.com.


DR!VE’s Journey

We were delighted to head up our partnership of qualified business advisors whose professional support helped turn good business plans into business for good. We designed DR!VE and planned our DR!VE targets from our experience and our well-established track record (visit Two/Zero, Boost and NatWest Skills and Opportunities).

Our partnership of friendly and approachable advisors spent up to two days supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs to increase the chances of their business thriving and surviving, including help starting up, growing businesses, creating new work and guidance to wider support. The was tailored to the needs of each participant, at no cost to them (funded by the European Regional Development Fund with support from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government).

Specialising in supporting social enterprises, DR!VE was delivered to help get business moving in Lancashire.


DR!VE’s Highlights:

Selnet are delighted to share our partnership’s fantastic outcomes:

  • 5,016 hoursprovided engaging in business advice – covering a range of activities including one-to-one business development support, identifying routes to market, aftercare support and referrals to specialist providers.
  • 797 clientswere supported over 28 months.
  • New businesses started: We exceeded our target for potential entrepreneurs who went on to set up a business – 90% of the pre-starts we supported then began a new business. By the close of DR!VE, 85 new businesses were established, including 42 social enterprises.
  • New jobs created: DR!VE overachieved our jobs target and increase employment through 101 roles. GVA background: As the programme supports 101 new jobs this would equate to an increase in GVA per annum of £2.4million pounds.
  • Value for money: DR!VE provided value for money with a net economic return of £16 for every pound invested.
  • Raising awareness of Social Enterprise:One of the key impacts Selnet had was in raising the profile and awareness of Social Enterprise.

One business advisor commented, “everyone has a different understanding of social enterprise”. With so much confusion around the sector, it was imperative to have advisors who could help shape the sector and guide people through the process start to finish.


Our DR!VE for Lancashire

DR!VE was designed to provide access to support for under-represented groups and understands that best practice is a continual process which will continue to evolve over time.

  • Focus on disadvantaged areas: 60% of businesses supported through DR!VE are in the most deprived half of the UK. Deprivation is a key issue in Lancashire, identified in the original project rationale, “In Lancashire, 2 of the 14 local authority areas are in the most deprived 10% of the lower-tier local authorities within England (IMD rank of average rank measure). A further two local authorities are both in the most deprived 20%.”
  • Enabling Female leadership: 53% of businesses supported were female-led. Women are still very underrepresented in business, a recent report commissioned by Boost, Growing Women, Growing Lancashire revealed that only 19% of businesses are led by women and only 20% of directors are women.

Manufacturing sector in DR!VE is female dominated. The other highest female dominated sectors included administration and support sectors and education. Overall, the balance of genders was even across the sectors with the exception of construction and the motor trade.

  • Clients with disabilities: Overall, the project has reached an average of 10% of disabled clients. “The disability employment rate was 53% in 2021, compared to 81% for non-disabled people.” Disabled workers move out of work at nearly twice the rate (9%) of non-disabled workers (5%), and unemployed disabled people move into work at nearly one-third of the rate (11%) of unemployed non-disabled people (27%).
  • Clients from ethnic minority backgrounds: 10% of clients from an ethnic minority backgrounds. The increase in ethnic minority enquiries really started to take off in December 2022, whatever activities the project team carried out at this time did work well at reaching a wider range of potential entrepreneurs.
  • The arts attracted higher number of disabilities and ethnic minorities, although this was a very small sample, it would be useful to continue to monitor this. Other service activities were the most dominant sector in DR!VE, but they were reaching low numbers of ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.


Project Evaluation

We will share insight and feedback on DR!VE in the coming weeks, starting with this feedback is from the CEO of Mandus House:


Business Expo event

At our Business Expo in January 2023, Selnet had clearly thought about what their clients needed and quite a few of the speakers focussed on inspiring and building confidence.

One speaker talked about “the truth about motivation is that no one really motivates you… you motivate yourself” and shared the top tip that if you think of public speaking as just sharing information with people it may remove some nerves.

Ultimately, it was clear that the social enterprise sector is connected around Selnet, as one speaker commented, “This sector works well in partnership.  It is very important for social enterprise.”




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