What Can Social Enterprises Achieve? Driving Change: A Success Story

Having a social enterprise within your business can make a big difference when it comes to winning public procurement bids under the terms of the Social Value Model.

In this blog, Thrive takes a look at one social enterprise that’s having a tremendous impact on job creation and employability across the country – targeting groups that traditionally find it difficult to find work – as well as boosting its parent company’s appeal to contracting parties.

Interested to discover how your business could benefit from social enterprise? Then read on!


Something is happening in Greater Manchester. An ambitious social enterprise – spun-off from a locally-headquartered waste management company – is putting its big plans into effect with stunning results.

Kenny Waste Management Social Enterprise Ltd Driving Change (hereafter referred to as Driving Change) is a rare example of a social enterprise that aims to work on a national scale as well as locally.

Its aim? To help people from backgrounds that cause them to struggle to find work gain the skills, experience, motivation, and opportunities they need to succeed.

Driving Change is an initiative launched by one of our clients – Kenny Waste Management – so we decided to dig a little deeper into their success, so as to inspire and guide others businesses that may be thinking of setting up a social enterprise of their own.


What is a Social Enterprise?

“Social enterprise” is not just another word for “charity”. They are commercially-run businesses that aim to make a profit. Where a social enterprise differs from an ordinary business is in its guiding purpose and the use to which profits made are put.

Social Enterprise UK – the membership body for the sector and a leading authority on the subject – puts it like this. A social enterprise must:

  • Have a clear social or environmental mission set out in the governing documents
  • Be a genuinely independent business, earning at least half of its income through trading
  • Be controlled in the interests of the mission
  • Reinvest at least half of any profit made in support of that goal
  • Be transparent about all operations and impact

It’s a part of the economy that’s growing fast and thereby increasing its capacity to do good. According to SEUK’s 2021 State of Social Enterprise 2021 report:

What Can Social Enterprises Achieve


But while there are some notable exceptions, like The Big Issue, The Eden Project, and others, the vast majority of social enterprises are very small and very local in their activities.

Driving Change is Kenny Waste Management’s social enterprise, which exists to strategically address the inequalities that exist for those that are furthest from meaningful employment.

Driving Change Social Enterprise

Source: Kenny Waste Management

Based in Greater Manchester, Kenny Waste Management has a long, proud history of being a business that, as Driving Change’s director Alex Mayes puts it, has “always done the right thing”.

As well as strong environmental credentials (under the core values of “Recover. Divert from landfill. Recycle.” Kenny Waste Management recycles or recovers more than 99% of waste it processes) the company has always tried to look past factors that may be holding people back from employment and focus on what they have to offer.

Another company maxim is “the greatest waste in life is wasted potential”.

And so in 2018, Kenny Waste Management set up Driving Change as a social enterprise dedicated to helping people in traditionally “hard to employ” groups develop the skills and experiences they need to find long-term, fulfilling work – both locally and nationally.


What Do Social Enterprises Do?

Driving Change’s articles of association give it a two-part objective:

“To offer waste management and related services to create employment and training opportunities for adults facing disadvantage in the labour market”

 To deliver the first part, Driving Change makes use of its parent company’s resources. Effectively, waste management work won by Driving Change is subcontracted to Kenny Waste Management.

Kenny Waste Management

Source: Kenny Waste Management

But Driving Change is keen to develop its own independent revenue streams as well. For example, they’re working on plans to build and sell skips.

When it comes to delivering the second part, Driving Change has three programmes:

  • Turning Points – Creating work placements, experience, job shadowing, and trials in the waste management sector
  • Evolving Horizons – Providing training workshops and mentoring to help people achieve relevant qualifications
  • Operation Basecamp – Going out into education and the wider community to raise awareness of the careers options available and to share experiences about the industry

Together, these three strands embody a comprehensive Theory of Change – developed in conjunction with Kenny Waste Management’s charity partner, Salford Foundation. This provides a framework for planning, delivering, and measuring progress across all of Driving Change’s objectives.

Kenny Waste Management Social Enterprise


Source: Kenny Waste Management

But it’s at the individual human level where Driving Change’s impact is most profound.

Take the case of Paul. At age 50, after 30 years driving a taxi, Driving Change helped him to retrain as an HGV driver.

Or ex-offender Lee. After struggling to find work, he reached out to Kenny Waste Management as a business that “looks past labels”. Today, he’s a waste compliance officer.

Lee says of his experience:

 “A secure job means so much more than an income. It’s about being part of a community and being able to live a life outside work that you enjoy.”

 Or even consider law student Lydia. After completing an internship in 2021, she was invited to help diversify Driving Change’s board – becoming a non-executive director.

Those are just a few of the people whose lives have been affected by Driving Change, along with the many others who have been helped to achieve Accredited Qualification, received career advice and support, been given opportunities to job shadow, and more.

What your social enterprise would do won’t be the same as what Driving Change is doing. But their story shows just how broad and deep the impact of organisations that value social benefit baked into their DNA can be.


Why Set Up a Social Enterprise?

As well as helping to create employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged parts of the community, Driving Change also generates significant benefits for its parent company.

More and more procurement policies are stipulating either the involvement of social enterprises in projects directly or are demanding high levels of social value commitment, delivery, and proof.

KWM Social Enterprise

Source: Kenny Waste Management

So having a social enterprise as part of their overall offering makes Kenny Waste Management highly appealing as a supply chain partner:

  • Customers can be certain that money spent with Driving Change is ring-fenced for the delivery of social benefits
  • They are also guaranteed a high level of transparency and close attention measuring and quantifying impact in delivery
  • Involvement of a social enterprise in a project supply chain can be presented as a contribution towards social value under the “Tackling Economic Inequality” pillar of the Social Value Model
  • In an age where businesses can suffer serious reputational damage if they are shown to not be living up to the values they espouse, companies that work with Driving Change can be sure they will not be vulnerable to accusations of “social-washing” around waste management and disposal

As well as helping Kenny Waste Management demonstrate its business ethics, Driving Change benefits the group in other ways:

  • Building close relationships with organisations which share similar social goals to work on mutually beneficial community projects – Tier 1 contractors Kier Group, for example
  • By training up people to work in waste disposal, Driving Change helps address the sector’s skills shortage
  • It helps Kenny Waste Management attract talent. Increasingly, candidates want to work with a ethical company that has a wider social or environmental purpose

For Kenny Waste Management, running a social enterprise is not just the right thing to do. It’s also good business sense.


What’s Next for Social Enterprises?

The next step for Driving Change is for it to widen its reach, and deepen its impact.  In 2022, they will be establishing a grant scheme enabling other SMEs to access funds to tap into the potential of their own teams.

By setting up a grants scheme, Alex Mayes explains, Driving Change will be able to provide training to address skills shortages Across the UK  in areas where companies have immediate needs for qualified staff.

Plus, the social enterprise is aiming to influence other businesses to ensure that all pay the Real Living Wage. It’s leading by example in that regard, by already paying the RLW to all its non-apprentice employees.


Living Wage


Many people think that social enterprises hold the key to changing the face of the economy and to delivering “levelling up” across the country.

And with more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing two million people and contributing £60 billion per year to the economy, they might just be right.

If you’re interested in setting up a social enterprise or you want to find a social enterprise partner, the best place to start is Social Enterprise UK. With more than 70,000 social enterprises listed in its database and members all across the country, SEUK really is an authority on the subject.

Alternatively, get in touch with us at Thrive. We’d be delighted to put you in touch with the team at Kenny Waste Management and share their expertise!