Dried pasta, glitter and glue – organised chaos from the UK to Zambia!

My son goes to an adorable nursery school two days a week.   He loves it – I think because he’s allowed to make a lot more mess than he is at home – I would never have come up with dried pasta, glitter and glue play!

Toddlers everywhere want to learn and have fun in a safe and loving environment.  And they all deserve it!  So we’ve already started to support the build of a new nursery in an SOS Children’s Village in Zambia.   This is the latest photo I have, although I’ve been told that it does now have a roof!  It’s opening in October so I will have more recent pictures to share soon.

The nursery will care for around 90 toddlers from the Chipata SOS Children’s village in Zambia, and the surrounding community.   There will be 3 groups of around 30 children; two nannies and an assistant will care for each group.   The educational philosophy is ‘learning through play’ – exactly the same as the nursery my son attends.    The daily routine is just as it is here, an 8am start, nap-time after lunch, indoor and outdoor play everyday.  Sounds organised – but either here or in Zambia, with all those happy children running around – I’m sure it’s more like organised chaos!

The orphaned and abandoned babies we’re helping are miles away, in towns and cities we had never heard of.   But that doesn’t make them, or the life they deserve, any different.    They’re just like my son, their nursery school days are just like his, and at from babies with love we believe all babies should have a fair start in life, no matter where they are born!

3 things I didn’t expect – setting up a social enterprise – part 3

Part 3: there’s lots behind the answer to ‘the best Chinese takeaway in London’!

That minimalist Google search screen.  Who stops to think about what goes on behind it as they’re typing in “best Chinese takeaway in London”?   I certainly didn’t, and I’ve discovered there’s an awful lot!

I’d vaguely heard of search engine optimisation (SEO) before I started my business plan, but now I know there are professionals that dedicate their life to it. I’m not a techy person but to ensure www.frombabieswithlove.org is on page one of relevant searches I’m starting to learn the language.

Key things I’ve learned so far:

–       It takes a bit of time for search engines like Google to index new pages; by setting up a holding page in advance of the site launch, www.frombabieswithlove.org is already recognised by Google and the like.

–       Not only are directory listings and references on other sites great for marketing, they are great for SEO, because Google gains trust for new sites through links to established sites.

–       Content has to be new and continually updated – Google notices and ranks a website with new content higher in relevant searches.  A news section or a blog is a great way to do this.

–       There is little value in repeating chunks of text containing key words throughout a website – Google can identify this and scores it negatively.  Plus it would be terrible for customers of course!

–       It’s important to choose key words that make the site very relevant to a targeted group of people looking specifically for a particular product.  Using broad key words might be relevant to more people, but, without paying a fortune for advertising, a site would be so far down the search results that no-one would see it.

As I get closer to launching www.frombabieswithlove.org I’m ticking off tasks on my to do list.  One thing I didn’t expect but now know for sure – SEO is going to be on my to do list forever!   If anyone has any great tips to share I would love to hear them!

3 things I didn’t expect – setting up a social enterprise: Part 2

Part 2: its boom time for social enterprise! 

From online payment services to postal bag printing – the sector is growing and for nearly any service I have needed – I have found a social enterprise!

A social enterprise is a business that uses its profits to further its social mission.  There are lots of famous examples; CafeDirect, The Big Issue and The Eden Project are all social enterprises.   And there are many others – Social Enterprise UK, a national body, notes there are 62,000 in the Great Britain, and that this figure is probably understated. According to various reports, the social enterprise sector has been growing faster than the rest of the economy.

When I began setting up from babies with love I knew the social enterprise sector was well established – but I didn’t realise that its been growing so fast, that it has such wide reach, and that I would be able to find suppliers, providing great value and service, that also have the same principles as us.   It’s amazing!

For example, when you purchase an item of baby clothing on our website, your payment will be processed by CharityClear, an online payment services social enterprise.  100% of their profit goes to Epilepsy Scotland.    It’s brilliant to know that, as well as using all our profit for a social purpose the fees we pay to suppliers like CharityClear are doing the same.

We know our customers are going to feel fantastic – enjoying their beautiful item of baby clothing and knowing they are helping orphaned and abandoned babies around the world.  Now we can also explain how our suppliers are helping others too.

So here’s to the continued growth and success of the social enterprise sector!   May it continue to surprise me!