This event was based on a tried and tested model, with amazing success in various locations around The Netherlands - 25 meetups to be exact!
We wanted to know…can this concept work in different spaces and countries? The answer was a definite yes!
The concept: to bring entrepreneurs (or just brilliant people) into a room to showcase and learn about a current social initiative. The social initiative explains the barriers they are facing to operate successfully, and the audience provides solutions and ideas to try and solve these issues, based on answering one key question.
This particular meet up was focused on Revoke - a grassroots organisation advocating for the rights and welfare of young people, particularly refugees, asylum seekers, and those in the care system, living without advocates, families, power, or a voice.
In Revoke’s own words:
“By recognising the brutality of the political, economic, and bureaucratic systems these young people battle every day, we take a holistic approach to their care, prioritising compassion, empathy, and respect. Our values are rooted in abolition principles and trauma-informed practices.
Revoke is founded by a team with lived experience of migration; racism; learning English as an additional language; and the trauma of displacement. This creates a strong connection to the young people we work with, as we aim to give them the tools, education, and confidence to advocate for themselves and restore the rights they’ve had revoked. “
We hosted the evening at the wonderful Ridley Road Social Club, and had a full house of 32 attendees, plus lots of guests and crew from The Present and Revoke.
Our lovely presenter Iris took to the stage to kick things off with a short presentation on The Present.
Mona Bani, Founder of Revoke then took to the stage to speak about Revoke and their purpose and aims. The audience was captivated…
She spoke about her own experience as a child of political refugees, growing up in Copenhagen, under strict security protection. Mona witnessed political life from a young age, including her parents assisting asylum cases, producing a women’s editorial, political radio and TV broadcast across the Middle East, from their home. At a later age she was then introduced to the extremities of the refugee crisis from her brother, who had visited the refugee camp in Calais. She knew from then she needed to take action.
Revoke works with a holistic approach influenced by Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs recognising that all needs; basic, physical, psychological and self fulfilment have to be addressed in order to heal trauma and allow people to live safe, meaningful lives. They give young people agency by engaging them with culture, society and politics, and co-designing activities that restore dignity and give a sense of fulfilment
She explained that their work largely includes: casework & advocacy, therapeutic care, social engaged art, political and social education.
However one barrier is a lack of permanent space to deliver and grow this work in a safe and consistent environment.
So the question we asked the room: What creative ways can we think of for Revoke to get their own space, with limited financial means? The groups were enthusiastic in brainstorming solutions - with varied creative outcomes!
TEAM YELLOW SOLUTION
They suggested a Workaway scheme - e.g a council owned building that would be donated (a church, school, warehouse etc) that would bring the benefit of integration into community. E.g. if it was a school, they would be able to integrate with school children, skillshare, create buddies and mentors. They suggested this would give the opportunity to bring their knowledge and learning and share it within communities.
TEAM PURPLE SOLUTION
They focused on getting someone who has lots of money and/or land to donate it for free! List of potentials:
Local authority (section 106 contributions)
Corporate social responsibility - big landowners such as universities, the church, land owners
Focus on local authority - first pin down a cash flow model to be able to fund the building
Quid pro where investments from Revoke would keep the building in good condition and make it fit for purpose for free rent. They suggested it would be 550 sqm with classrooms, event spaces, kitchen, emergency accommodation and more. And when not being used by Revoke, it would be available for the wider community to benefit from.
TEAM RED SOLUTION
They proposed people would fund a space through a membership system - creating a space where members sign up and get benefits attached, including space to rent. Revoke would then generate revenue from the rental fees.
TEAM GREEN SOLUTION
They took a different approach - more sustainable with not relying on others or renting - buy their own place! They suggested doing so by taking advantage of council or government schemes. This would require 3 things:
20% of the value of the property as a deposit
Generate cash flow
Legal framework - bank loan / law firm for guidance
Create a cooperation where people get benefits from donating to the cost
This would be a tier model where people from different backgrounds or businesses donate either time or money...
TEAM BLUE SOLUTION
They worked on the basis that people are proud to share their spaces - they looked at nightclubs, warehouses, and art spaces in particular. They narrowed that focus to art spaces, as Revoke has a focus on art, and they believe that the art world would benefit from being affiliated with a social initiative. They suggested that they could have a space where the whole neighbourhood can contribute - e.g they can host classes in the evening, as well as generate revenue by collaborating with established artists to sell their work. Another thought was about football arenas where there are often large spaces unused for long periods of time.
We then celebrated with food and drinks, and everyone hung around to mingle, network and make new friends!
Our key take-aways away from the event: it was inspiring, with an amazing audience, engagement, and creative and practical solutions. It was an opportunity to bring together different worlds of people to share experience and stories in an inviting and safe space.
We are already looking forward to the next - we hope to see you there!
Join us to work together with other entrepeneurs to help support social initiatives