Images from Furniture on the Street
Furniture on the Street is a social enterprise project that sells contemporary-designed pieces of outdoor wooden furniture. The key is that the tables and chairs are made by unemployed youth and the factory work prepares them for the job market.
As part of the programme, students get a one-year carpentry course and are taught the design process. The good looking planters, garbage bins and benches are made out of reclaimed wood and the frames are made locally.
The workshop activities provided include model-making, teaching basic computer design software skills and visits to timber yards. It's a way to give the students and their customers a complete environmental focus.
Students can design the benches, work on the graphics and colours and see the concrete results when the products are purchased. And it's not just a charity--a city council in north London bought ten benches. Says one of the organizers "We use local labour, our frames are made locally, and we have an environmental focus. You're not doing us a favour. You get a competitive product."
And they are making money and the trainees are getting jobs. All of them so far have gone on to continue their education and one is studying furniture design at a university. They want to extend the programme now to include fencing and metalwork.
Social entrepreneurship is a way of using business to tackle social issues. It has been defined as a “halfway house between profits-driven businesses and charities" that can "take the profit motive to parts of the voluntary and public sector that have in the past been hostile to it." They include Belu water, Goodone clothes and sustainable furniture. Furniture on the Street Via :: the Guardian
More on Social Enterprise Projects
Social Entrepreneurs Mean Business
London Design Festival: Sustainable Furniture
Defining Social Entrepreneurship