Heather is qualified in the formulation and composition of natural skincare products. She spends much of her time in cosmetic alchemy and can often be seen wearing her latest honey-based homemade face-mask. In Brazil, Heather is also the lead consultant for inFocus, committed to improving the performance of social-impact-driven organisations, through consultancy, capacity building and technology in the area of impact monitoring and evaluation. In the UK, Heather managed the Hub Islington, which supports, connects and nurtures social initiatives providing shared spaces and access to a like-minded local and global community. She was responsible for the strategic development of both the business and the community, overseeing financial and operational activity and designing and delivering programmes, services and events to promote collaboration and innovation. Prior to this, she worked for two third sector organisations at local, national and international levels. Heather has been involved in delivering a number of youth initiatives for the past ten years. She is a qualified translator working from Brazilian Portuguese into English.
Dom loves the bees. Prior to co-founding Beeconomics, he managed a media, music and arts project which empowers young people through providing training programmes that foster creativity, increase confidence and develop transferable skills. He developed the project from a summer programme to a year round provision enjoying dedicated studio/workshop environments and strategic partnerships with established media, music and arts organisations. Through working with young people in central London for seven years he gained an in-depth understanding of the complexities of youth unemployment, particularly for those with low educational attainment. Dom has contributed to youth policy development through inter-agency forums, conferences and training project leaders. His experience in facilities management has helped him to develop a creative and systematic approach to environmental sustainability. When not with the bees, he works as a photographer.
Our contextual understanding deepened when we visited eleven social projects and five social enterprises across Brazil in 2011. The social projects included sheltered housing for vulnerable young people, various primary and supplementary education providers, youth counselling and advocacy, environmental education and youth diversion activities. A recurring theme, often cited by project workers, was the need to broaden the employment prospects of disadvantaged young people. The majority of social projects we visited were experiencing similar issues of income stream volatility that we had experienced in London. It was this experience that provided the impetus for our adoption of an enterprise model which can generate its own income.
The social enterprises we visited included an arts, crafts and fashion cooperative, a PET plastic recycling project and a World Vision micro-finance programme. Perhaps most akin to our planned venture was Cooking for Life, a pay-per-kilo restaurant providing vocational training and transitional employment in preparation for a career in the restaurant and catering industry, which has trained 295 people since 2002. We also connected with the Hub in São Paulo, part of a worldwide community of social enterprises (of which we are members) with over 25 localised networks across five continents. These initiatives demonstrated the efficacy of social enterprise as a sustainable means of creating opportunities for social and economic inclusion in urban areas of Brazil.