Many people are written off during the hiring process for a variety of reasons. This might be a disability, an interaction with the prison system or refugee status.

The first ever Glasgow Good Ideas Class has now finished and its 5 social innovators are working hard to make change. Unfortunately the usual end of Class celebration, the Social Innovation Showcase, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But we’ve launched the #HelpMakeChange campaign to introduce you to the Glasgow Class and opportunities to work with them to deliver social change.

Each Class member has a unique request. A specific ask that, if fulfilled, will help them make a bigger impact in this next stage. Read on to find out if you can help social entrepreneur Merel make change.

One thing we’re feeling thankful for, especially in the current climate, is the amazing entrepreneurs that join our Good Ideas Class. Our inaugural Glasgow Class members were no exception. 

Merel Bekking is a product designer who wants to use her skills to bring more income into creative social enterprises. The long term goal is to use this revenue to increase employment opportunities for people who currently find it most difficult to find work and make them feel proud and valued for their work.

Tackling the Big Issues / The Problems 

Problem 1:

Many social creative studios are full of outstanding artists doing amazing things, but for these studios funding opportunities are lacking. This means a lot of the artist’s work will never be shared with a large audience, and it will not receive the appreciation it should get.

An alternative is to produce products, championing the artists work, that would allow the studios to create new revenue streams. But, with limited knowledge of product design, this can be a big challenge for some studios. It’s difficult for small, businesses to compete with the mainstream supply chain when trying to create and sell a product, but Merel can help them create high quality user items that can compete with the high street. 

Problem 2:

Another deficit in the mainstream world of work is a lack of access to employment for a number of groups. Many people are written off during the hiring process for a variety of reasons. This might be a disability, an interaction with the prison system or refugee status.

Creating Something Life Changing / The Solution 

Merel wants to address these problems and, in true social entrepreneur style, she has ideas for building a social business to do just that. 

The first stage is to work with studios to help them create a product line that will fly off the shelves. She will use her expertise as a product designer to work as a consultant with studios looking to develop a range of products they can sell to generate income. The goal is to create a product line that showcases the amazing work of the studio’s artists and that helps the studio itself become more self-sufficient. 

This income will play a crucial role in helping artists feel valued and taken seriously. 

The long term plan is to use this model to fund her own social design studio that employs people who have characteristics that make it harder for them to access employment.

The Good Ideas Process / The Experience

Merel told us,

“I applied because I’d been playing with the idea of socially conscious design. A couple of years back, I made a candle holder that was produced by a social workspace. I designed the candle holder and they would make it for me.

At that time, I just really felt good about them making it. But years later, I thought, “You know what? we have to restructure this whole thing”. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot, restructuring our systems for production. 

The concern I had before the programme was actually a cultural one. I’m from the Netherlands, and there social design is really big, or at least it’s starting to get big. If you start talking about it in my field everybody understands what your aim is and why you want to do it. Whereas here, I really had to explain it. People weren’t familiar with the concept. I thought, is this going to be a struggle here in the UK? Will it be worth trying to push for it? 

Good Ideas has helped me take this idea seriously, to really structure my idea. “

Taking the Next Steps / The Asks

During the Class and reaching out to the types of studios and social enterprises she wanted to work with Merel found that these organisations weren’t able to afford the type of consultancy she was initially hoping to offer. She’s now looking for insight on how to create a sustainable business model. 

Is this something you can help her with? Or perhaps you’re a creative organisation that has a budget for consultancy and you want to work with Merel to create a product range. 

Also, Merel has now decided to take her idea back to the Netherlands and is looking to build her network there. If you know an organisation in the Netherlands that should know about the work Merel is doing, put them in touch.

You can contact Merel at [email protected] 

Can you work with Merel to #HelpMakeChange?

Stay safe and take care 🙂