HJA, in partnership with Rosemarie Davies Consulting, Hywel Evans Cyf, and Strategic Research and Insight was appointed by the Wales Co-operative Centre to provide evaluation services in respect of the Social Business Wales (SBW) programme.
The SBW programme is designed to offer dedicated, specialist support to grow and develop the social business sector throughout Wales. As well as supporting existing social businesses (including co-operatives, social enterprises, mutual and employee owned businesses), the project also affords the opportunity to embed the principles of co-operative working in the private sector by offering support for employee ownership as a viable succession option, as well as encouraging collaborative working for joint tendering opportunities.
This evaluation was undertaken in 3 phases:
- Phase 1 – a baseline review early in the programme to assess whether it has a sound basis and operational structures that are efficient and effective;
- Phase 2 – a mid-term evaluation to assess progress against target and indications of impact; and
- Phase 3 – a final evaluation to assess performance against target and final impact.
The approach taken in Phase 1 included a series of desk-based evaluation to assess the soundness of the business case, including a literature review, review of potential comparator case studies and development of project logic chains. In addition, a ‘hands-on’ process review was completed, investigating the operational processes that had been established in order to deliver the project and monitor performance and impact. This included interviews with a range of project officers and investigation of project systems and literature.
Phase 2 of the evaluation consisted of a mid-term review to assess:
- The extent to which the programme is delivering the activities, outputs and outcomes identified in the logic model developed in Phase 1, including delivery and promotion of the cross-cutting themes;
- The extent to which the operation is identifying and reaching its target clients;
- The extent to which the operation is meeting the needs of its target clients (within the scope of the operation) and of the sector;
- The impact the operation is having on the sector in Wales;
- Investigating how well the operation is linking with other similar or complementary operations within the sector (including those delivered as part of the Business Wales family); and
- Investigating how well the operation is providing its services through the medium of Welsh where appropriate.
The approach taken during Phase 2 consisted of an analysis of operation monitoring data, including headline output and financial information as well as finer grained information related to activity and outputs, internal stakeholder consultation with SBW staff, external stakeholder consultation with individuals with relevant experience to add value to the evaluation process, provider consultation and e-feedback, a telephone survey with client beneficiaries, and client case studies with 16 organisations – which included client businesses from across the range of SBW services including growth social businesses, collaboration clients and Employee Buy-Out (EBO) organisations.
Phase 3 of the evaluation is expected to begin during 2022 with a final impact report anticipated to for publication in 2023. This will set out the programme’s final impact and performance against the anticipated outcomes set out in the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports.