In Good Company… with Make CIC. As part of our ongoing series we catch up with businesses across Liverpool City Region to ask them the big question: what makes a ‘good’ business?
Makerspace and creative community Make CIC runs three spaces across Liverpool City Region. Its site in Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square has been fundamental to the cultural renaissance taking part in the borough; it has two other spaces in Baltic Triangle and North Liverpool’s Ten Streets area, with a fourth due to open in Huyton during Knowsley’s year as Borough of Culture in 2022.
Make’s mission is to help people turn their passion into prosperity, by improving access to community-led spaces, resources, networks, projects and services. Its spaces are home to a growing community of artists, makers and micro-businesses.
With hundreds of tenants across its sites, the impact of the pandemic on freelancers and micro-businesses was immediately clear to the Make team. “The main focus for Make during the pandemic was supplying business support to our residents who were struggling through the impact of lockdown,” says CEO Liam Kelly.
“We supported them with grant applications, pivoting their services and goods, advice, mentorship, masterclasses. Rent relief and holidays were absolutely necessary. It made business sense, because what is good for them is good for us, but also because it was the right thing to do with our resources,” he adds.
“Our value is created through a better more sustainable environment; creating opportunities for those involved in our business as customers and suppliers. And, ultimately, it’s about what we do with our profit,” says Liam.
“Liverpool has a great community of ‘good’ businesses who are supportive of each other and choose collaboration over competition. It’s a great network to be involved with, supporting each other and working together. It’s great to be associated with good business and it feels synonymous with the region.”
In spite of its strong social economy legacy, the world of work is changing everywhere, says Liam.
“Some of the core things we feel are important around good business, and how we change the world of business are around transparency and involvement,” he says.
“As a CIC we don’t have an obligation to be as transparent as we are, but we publish our accounts, write reports and host opportunities for people to hear about our work.
“We want people to be involved. Our customers are our community, and as a ‘community business’ they are involved in our decision making through a representative committee.”
It’s an approach that he thinks more businesses will embrace as our economy emerges from the pandemic.
“The world is changing and unregulated market capitalism has exploited people – and they are fed up,” Liam says. “We spend so much of our lives working, so why not have more autonomy over it and more joy from it?”
Find out more about Make CIC and its community of makers at makecic.org.
You can also read more about Birkenhead’s renaissance and the community businesses that are part of it at leftbankcollective.com.
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Rob Bremner is a British documentary and editorial photographer, studying at Wallasey College of Art and the School of Documentary Photography at Newport.
He spent summer 2021 capturing good businesses across Liverpool City Region, for the Good Business Festival’s #InGoodCompany series.
Follow Rob Bremner on instagram.
The Good Business Festival is passionately non-exclusive. It’s not about what you do or who you know. It’s not about agreeing on everything all of the time. It’s about everyone working towards a better world – no matter where you’re starting from.