What motivates me? Building a social enterprise.


“Why did you start Semble?” is a question people often ask. They may as well ask, “what motivates you” or “why have you taken this route in life?” To answer I have to take a brief trip back to the early days of the organisation.

Semble started life as Project Dirt – a green social network connecting environmental projects. Working beside Co-Founder Nick Gardner, I racked up 22,000km on my vespa criss-crossing the city to meet with project leads. Before long we were London’s biggest independent green network … and then the UK’s. Staying relevant and genuinely impactful have been our cornerstones. As such, in 2010 we pivoted to become a community network, opening our doors to projects with a social focus. And in 2012 we started working with partners to direct funding and volunteers to community projects. Timberland were our first client and we haven’t looked back.

What got me out onto that vespa in the first place? I’d left my property investment job aged 26 to set up my own business because I wanted more freedom and less monotony. I also wanted to leave the world in a slightly better place than when I arrived.

The naked, honest truth is that my best mate died unexpectedly when I was 15 (a fantastic guy called Richard Van Rossum). Grief served as inspiration, helping me to realise that you really do only get one chance. So, I made a promise to myself: I’d always do what I believed in and what I felt proud of.

I’m proud of what Semble has already achieved. And I’m incredibly proud of the team and their ability to manage huge companies (often with complex requirements) whilst also interacting with the small, local community groups that drew us all to the job in the first place.

Every time one of the Semble team answers a call they’re living out what Semble is at its heart; as a company we connect community actors with stakeholders to be a force for good.

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Last year we worked with 14 companies (many of them major UK and global brands) to enable them to connect with and give back to their local communities. Our model sees us deliver community campaigns for them, which reach millions of people every year. Only last month we saw the Outdoor Classroom Day campaign engage hundreds of thousands of kids across the world. Through Backyard Nature, with Iceland and Richard Walker’s backing, we are tackling the huge issue of children in low income families in the UK having little to no access to nature. Other campaigns see us distributing corporate funding for Carling (have you seen their Made Local programme?), Sir Robert McAlpine, Argent and many more.

So, “what motivates me?” The excitement of trying out new things and making them work. Relentlessly believing in relationships and especially the importance of a value exchange. Believing in the power of good people – both at a community level and at a corporate level. Creating real impact by getting funding to the right places.

Above all, I’m motivated by what the future holds and especially by the huge potential in the company-to-community space. 

In the midst of the current crisis, we’re seeing more companies than ever recognise the importance of supporting community action. If you want to know how you can get involved in the community space – if you’d genuinely like to make a difference – we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to find out more and see how we can work together to build back better.

Find out more on the work with us page here.

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