Social Enterprise with a Missional Purpose at ‘Clean for Good’
“It’s not a church, it’s a business,” Andrea Campanale, who works for CMS coordinating learning in Pioneer Hubs, told me when I called for a chat about Clean for Good. “The business plan is to break-even in the next two years, and then to begin generating profits which will be invested in employees.” Limited by shares but with a clear social, ethical and missional focus, Clean for Good has a business model which is required to create a return for its investors both financially but also – crucially – socially. Investors in social enterprise business participate in a vision of ‘doing things better’, expecting clear social impact and tangible results – but also recognising that a business is viable and with investment can become sustainable. And that is precisely what Clean for Good’s start-up investment reflects – a network of people and organisations who share a vision, see a good idea, and get together to support its growth.
Have I lost you yet? If the answer is yes, then don’t panic…. The world and language of social enterprise, business, investment, multiple income streams etc. can seem daunting, and a long way from the models of church – even fresh expressions of church – that many in our network will be familiar with. However, as Andrea and I discussed, this is an increasingly crucial conversation for those of us involved in pioneering new ways of being missional to get stuck into. “In these austerity times, the reality is that there aren’t bottomless pots of money waiting to fund new things,” Andrea reflected. “As Christians we need to be increasingly creative – finding sustainable models that can be self-supporting, without relying on funding from dwindling sources.”
In my experience, this can all feel so ‘new’ and unchartered to many who are involved in church growth that many a good idea falls by the wayside. A lack of confidence, start-up investment and business support can combine to extinguish the innovation and creativity which many missionally-minded folk could offer – and missional-social enterprise networks to access start-up and long-term support are notably thin on the ground! So, let’s look briefly at Clean for Good – a cracking example of where social enterprise meets pioneering mission – and draw out three lessons to be gleaned from this business about how the Good News can translate across sectors.
Immediately notable in the Clean for Good story is how a good idea bubbled up in response to a problem, and someone having a bright idea about how a solution could be created. Three years ago, noting that a ‘hidden army’ of cleaners and other low-paid workers head into London to begin work at the end of everyone else’s working day, Miriam Goodacre and Guy Treweek set out to find a practical way to help low-paid workers in their parish of St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe.
What emerged was the idea of Clean for Good – an ethical cleaning company that would pay the Living Wage, employ staff rather than offering zero hour contracts, and provide employment benefits that give stability, sustainability and dignity. However, this great idea needed more than just the idea – and so a network of support and training was accessed. Through participation in CMS’ ‘Make Good’ programme, and partnerships with other organisations such as the Centre for Theology and Community, the idea grew and the vision was picked up and supported by a network of goodwill and skills.
“Clean for Good – through building networks – was able to access not just financial investment but specialist support, corporate design, and the contacts it needed. We often underestimate the power of using all the skills within the Body of Christ,” Andrea told me. “There are so many people with knowledge and talents which may not have traditionally been used in church settings, but with a mind-set shift we can access a huge body of goodwill and resource.”
Speaking with Andrea and investigating further into Clean for Good’s story, it’s clear that the model required an understanding of mission as something much bigger than conversion – and a willingness to work in different sectors to do something about it. Informed by an understanding of the intrinsic worth of all, the mechanisms of business have been employed to invest dignity and honour human life. This is not an easy leap to make – as I’ve mentioned, for many it’s a new vocabulary and landscape, and it doesn’t necessarily fit within commonly held understandings of mission. However, Clean for Good has located itself within the worlds of both mission and business through recognising social enterprise as a vehicle for Good News, and seeking to transform the structure of society through engaging seriously with business. Understanding these concepts as compatible is crucial.
If you would like to know more about Clean for Good, or to get involved, please head to www.cleanforgood.co.uk. You can also follow #whoismycleaner to take up the challenge to get to know who does your cleaning.
If you’re interested to know more about the CMS Pioneer ‘Make Good’ programme, find out at https://pioneer.churchmissionsociety.org/pioneer-mission-leadership-training-course/course-details/missional-entrepreneurship/
Article by Hannah Skinner