Introduction and Early Days
The Genesis Enterprise Foundation started in 1991 out of a vision of 4 local Christian couples in a Derbyshire coalfields town wishing to make a difference in their Community.
The first number of years saw the development of several buildings projects accommodating and serving teenage expectant mothers, disaffected young teenagers and a youth hostel, foyer scheme. These projects were delivered with minimal capital grants support and sustained by a mixture of grants service level income and income generation plus personal contribution and sacrifice of the Board and staff.
The learning curves were significant but what became evident was always the need of funding to survive, with projects sometimes faltering once grant support had failed also our desire to grow was always limited.
In 1999 as part of a study group to examine the story and structure of Montragon in North Spain, Steve Holmes was first inspired by how a region had been transformed initiated by a Catholic Priest and local entrepreneur working together. Steve also formed some key relationships one which became significant with a Doctor in Entrepreneurship at Cambridge and an experienced person in business incubation and incubation centres.
The challenge was how to grow the organisation to serve its community objectives entrepreneurially producing wealth or social capital and also how ethical business work alongside community. As an ex-Corporate banker and entrepreneur, the challenge attracted Steve.
During the next few years the organisation continued to grow into childcare and youth delivery supported by a restaurant, free range chicken farm of 20,000 birds and several other ventures! The organisation also developed training days for churches and established a network of 90 organisations building community projects the programme funded through ESF priority 4. This project brought a number of key thinkers together.
Big Challenge, Big Breakthrough
Locally to their base, an old and very dilapidated bus garage had been left to rot for 10 years. With a large group of youths to keep active, and connected, the HURT Trust approached the bus company to ask to use one of their spare bus sheds as an impromptu (and cheap!) 5-a-side facility. They had football coaches lined up, kids interested in taking part, and the time to make it happen. All they needed was a cheap place to run it in. The answer came back as ìno, you canít rent the shed, but you can rent the entire site, if you want!
At that time (2001) an opportunity arose for the Trust to make application (maximum sum of £500,000) into RDA under spend to deliver sustainable community projects. .
The timing was right as we had identified and dreamed of building a centre that would produce wealth and also serve the Community. We now had heard of Social Enterprise as a relatively new Government theme and we submitted a proposal for the redevelopment of the bus depot into a Centre for Social Enterprise and Incubation Unit.
The trust negotiated a rental deal with the owners of the bus depot with a buyout clause which included all rent paid to be knocked off the selling price.
The Genesis Centre became the successful output of receiving £498,000 capital from EMDA and £328,000 from Coalfield Regeneration Trust that pump-primed the development. With only £25,000 cash reserves, £150,000 property equity 4 full-time staff and 12 part-time we set out on converting the redundant bus-depot with office and warehouse space in the centre of Alfreton, Derbyshire into the Centre for Social Enterprise.
With various stage of development the site is now complete with diverse delivery which has become the catalyst for both social and economic regeneration of the ex-Coalfields town.
The centre now has 76,000 sq ft of office, leisure and training space including:
- A Leisure facility operated as a social enterprise which includes meeting rooms, an affordable sports hall, cafe, Soft Play Centre, Ten-Pin Bowling and conferencing.
- A business incubation unit
The Alfreton Vocational Academy which is a 10,000 sq ft training facility used by local schools to train pupils in the areas of motor mechanics, building and construction and beauty therapy.
- A purpose built Adult Education Centre of 12,000 sq ft rented by the The Genesis Academy
The venture created and supports over 40 new staff plus trainees and is self sustainable. The organisation has been able to afford much of its community work out of surpluses and has developed a net asset base of £2.2 million.
Alfreton Hall – The Foundation has also purchased and refurbished Alfreton Hall, a18th century manor house which it uses as a wedding and conference venue.
Genesis Academy – A recent project which this year delivered training to organisations wishing to develop social enterprise activity.
Awards and Recognition
The project is now well documented and used as a case study material in numerous sectors.
- East Midlands Development Agency used the organisation as a key example of sustainable community delivery (now supported us with a £2 million of Funding).
- Social Enterprise East Midlands viewed Genesis as their best example for enterprise and entrepreneurship (due to its scale and diversity and entrepreneurial team.)
- C.D.F.I.s has used the project as a prime example for how CDFI money can pump-prime projects until banks can be attracted.
- Steve Holmes, Founder was awarded Midlands Regional finalist coming second in the Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Ernst and Young and London Stock Exchange.
- Twice referred to 10 Downing Street for People Making a Difference.
- Several other awards and Conference Speaking engagements.