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Purposeful companies: School Space

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Many limited companies try to contribute to the environment, their communities and wider society.

Some go further and put these types of values at the very heart of what they strive to achieve.

UnLtd is an organisation that supports people who seek to solve social problems through entrepreneurial solutions. With their help, more and more people in the UK are creating companies that can contribute to positive social change.

This is the first in a series of blogs where we’ll look at some of these companies and how the people behind them are helping to make a real difference.

Two students posing behind signs saying 'School Space'

School Space was founded in 2011. Based in Oxfordshire, it’s a social enterprise helping local schools market their facilities to potential customers. School Space helps schools to generate extra income by helping them hire out of spaces to individuals, clubs, societies and local businesses.

But School Space gives more than just financial benefits. They connect schools with local groups, they help grow new partnerships and reinvigorate communities.

Co-founders Jemma Phibbs and James Lloyd are passionate believers in supporting education through sustainable social innovation. The pair went to Oxfordshire’s Wheatley Park School, which boasts Prime Minister Theresa May among its alumni. Soon after being named head girl and head boy, the pair joined forces and came up with the business concept.

Determined to positively promote the school and help generate it some income, Jemma and James entered a local Dragons’ Den-style business competition. Here, the area’s top young entrepreneurs battled each other for a share of an investment fund.

Their successful pitch saw them win enough money to meet the company’s start-up costs, and School Space was born.

The company now helps its client schools across Oxfordshire and London. It manages any bookings and handles all customer enquiries, finance, administration and cancellations. This is made possible by School Space’s enthusiastic and passionate team of staff. The company’s team of Community Connectors provide practical support and make sure the customer experience is a positive one.

Jemma continued being involved with School Space while studying for her Cambridge University History degree. She looks after the company’s sales and expansion strategies and is passionate about education.

She describes School Space’s social purpose as being as equally important as its business strategy.

“Every business should think about how they’re making society better,” says Jemma.

People taking part in an exercise class.

The company’s certainly having a real impact. On average, a partner school sees use of their facilities boosted by 128 per cent within the first 6 months. And in just one year, School Space has helped generate more than £350,000 in profit for its partner schools. School Space point out that this is enough to pay for 152,000 free school meals or cover the cost of 27 teaching assistants.

Jemma explains that the company’s sense of purpose is really important when recruiting the right people and gaining investment from those who care about the School Space way.

She says that identifying talented people who are “motivated by more than money” is key to the company’s success.

“For us, it means that people are motivated and that they care about what we are doing,” adds Jemma.

“Our people are just as passionate as the co-founders about what we’re trying to achieve.”

Although created after School Space was established, Jemma supports UnLtd’s new business tool Purposely. This helps founders who want to put their company’s purpose in their articles of association. These can be thought of as the foundations of a company and comprise written rules about the running of the company agreed by shareholders, directors and the company secretary.

Jemma describes Purposely as “a good step forward” for social entrepreneurs, or anyone who believes their business could have a positive contribution to society.

UnLtd provides support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and helps organisations during their crucial start-up and expansion phases. It wants to break down barriers social entrepreneurs face and help them to become a valued and vibrant part of society.

A group of people all smiling at the camera.

For more information about Purposely, visit

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Jeff Mowatt posted on

    People-Centered Economic Development Ltd registered as a UK company in 2004. It began in 1996 with a paper arguing that business could put a social purpose before shareholder value given shareholder consent and the modification of governing documents to reflect that this was the entire point of doing business. In an interview that year, our founder described the impact of his model in Russia: