Finalists Women Social Leadership Awards 2013
I treat obstacles as challenges to work through...
In 1994 I intended to create a successful social business using the arts to change lives. Today Impact Arts is a national social enterprise, working across 14 local authorities in Scotland with 4000+ children and vulnerable adults annually doing precisely that.
Our vision is to be the world’s leading community arts organisation, and our strategic plan to 2015 outlines how we will do this – through excellence, global benchmarking and structured scale-up through replication and partnering.
"We have developed an innovation and product development cycle where we design, test, evaluate and roll out high quality, branded, scalable creative solutions to social problems – our priorities include combating elderly isolation, reducing homelessness through interior design, increasing enterprise and aspiration in children and young people and transforming environments.
We also provide bespoke projects using music, public art, and community engagement to meet clients’ needs and create further social impact.
There have not been real obstacles during the building of Impact Arts. I treat them as a challenge to work through. Key barriers have been around suspicion and resistance to the concept of a business approach to social impact and community work in the early years of Impact Arts’ life. Innovation is not always a welcome concept in the public sector. The risk averse nature of the agencies we need to engage to create social change has created setbacks, delay and blocking of resources to our work. "
Changing Public Sector Agendas
"The biggest obstacle we have faced in recent years is the amount of time and energy we need to respond to changing public sector agendas and priorities to secure business, and then report on delivery. Whilst this is right and proper, the time diverted away from social impact delivery and growing our organisation has meant that we know we could have delivered more.
But we are recognised for the quality of our work, our ability to respond to social issues and partners need our strength as a social business to deliver change.
Detailed social impact information depends on the project, however we know that at least 80% of vulnerable tenants we engage through Fab Pad sustain their tenancies for at least 12 months, and that between 45 – 75% of the unemployed young people we work with through Creative Pathways progress onto training and employment, and a more positive future through our work. "
Susan founded the Glasgow Social Enterprise Network, and has joined the Entrepreneurial Exchange, where she invests structured time in creating connections and identifying like-minded partners. She also works with Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce to raise Impact Arts’, and social enterprise’s profiles.
Susan Aktemel Impact Arts (Projects) | Scotland
Susan Aktemel is founder of Impact Arts, Homes for Good and a property developer. Susan graduated from Strathclyde University in German, Spanish and Politics, and lived in Europe during this time. Combining retail experience, adult literacy and a community development background, she created a Impact Arts, a business with a social purpose in 1994.
Starting as a sole trader, by 2012 she had developed it into a national charity with a turnover of £2 million and 50 full time staff. She handed over the reins in May 2012 to a new Chief Executive, and is now focussed on creating her next venture Homes for Good.
Since 2000 Susan has been building a family property development business and rental portfolio. She has combined her skills in property development with her commitment to social change to create Homes for Good and Homes for Good Investments, Scotland’s first social enterprise letting agency, and first dedicated private sector social landlord.
In 2011 she was named Social Enterprise Leader by the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, and had the honour of winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 in the social category. In 2012 she was named the Global Business Leader of the Year by Ogunte, which promotes female social entrepreneurs across the world.
Susan just about balances her career with being a wife and mum to her three daughters, and spending as much time as possible in Turkey, Spain and Largs.