Talking is important to Caroline St Johnston, social entrepreneur and brains behind an imaginative new project that aims to spread the word far and wide about social enterprise using themed ‘chat show’ style events.
Funded by an UnLtd and Santander Spark Award, Caroline and project partner Claire Carpenter from The Melting Pot came up with a chat show idea because they wanted to reach out beyond their normal networks. For her day-job, Caroline is co –founder and Social Enterprise Manager of Port Edgar Watersports CIC, the largest Watersports centre in Scotland.
“Talking to and meeting people can be inspiring but sometimes, networking events just attract the same faces,” said Caroline. “That’s fine but we wanted to put on an event with a difference – something fun and accessible with lots of energy. Our aim was to do something that could reach out beyond our usual networks.”
The idea gathered momentum when big-name social entrepreneur Mel Young, founder of the Homeless World Cup, agreed to be their first guest on the chat show sofa. However, Caroline and Claire were adamant that the show must reflect every stage of a social entrepreneur’s journey. With that in mind, the pair recruited Greg Chauvet from established social enterprise The Bike Station Glasgow and first time social entrepreneur Marianne Paterson from Ayrshire Children’s Services as their next guests.
Caroline said: “We deliberately picked entrepreneurs who were from different stages of their business journeys – from two years to 20 years ensuring there was something for everyone in the audience.”
Filmed by Smart Film Productions and ably presented by first time chat show host Claire, the shows attracted a wide and diverse audience from inside and outside the social enterprise sector. The shows ran during Global Entrepreneurship Week and took advantage of the wave of publicity around the larger event.
“Our hope was to appeal to the kinds of people who wouldn’t normally go along to a social enterprise networking event – and I think we achieved this. Everyone was buzzing after the show – it was a great feeling and people wanted more,” said Caroline.
Caroline hopes to run more chat show events in the future – potentially with specific themes. The chat shows are available to view on YouTube.