About Sophia Hubs
Who is Sophia?
Sophia is not a woman, but rather a personification – of Wisdom. In fact Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom, a concept which features in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim Scriptures and has, of course, far wider resonance in other faith traditions and beyond. Sophia Hubs is founded on the principle that the wisdom resources of faith are key to creating truly sustainable communities.
What we do
Sophia Hubs helps local faith based communities use their resources – faith, webs of relationship, location, building, – to assist people in their localities develop new start up businesses and social enterprises through creating an enterprise hub. This puts potential entrepreneurs in touch with the different kinds of support they need eg business mentoring, incubation space, becoming part of a business community, start up capital.
Sophia Hubs help faith communities become catalysts to make the communities they serve become more truly sustainable. We focus on identifying what is needed to build the local community and to support new ventures which address these issues with sound business models.
We work creatively with Timebanks (see www.timebanking.org), which build relationships and offer a way to exchange value without using money – putting everyone, employed or unemployed, on a level playing field as they exchange services with each other. Timebanks give people the opportunity to develop and practice their skills, discover potential products or services they could market, acquire training, record volunteering hours and receive services which they might struggle to afford financially.
But more than this, we work holistically and innovatively to create ways of keeping value and money circulating in the local community, identify key products and services which would make a real difference in particular contexts, and encourage more entrepreneurial thinking and acting .We recognise that to create a truly sustainable community there are different levels at which people can be connected and enabled and that often this needs to start well below the level of motivated and skilled entrepreneurs.
Some faith communities are already doing a number of these things outstandingly well, but whatever your stage of development, we offer a membership network for these hubs and for all those interested in faith-based social entrepreneurialism, in order to access funding and support at scale on their behalf, offer Sophia courses and other resources, connect hubs with each other and to help build a movement which can make a difference.
A Wisdom Model
Our model seeks to harness the existing social and spiritual capital of local faith communities, and to explore and apply their ‘wisdom’ resources, respecting their different traditions and encouraging dialogue between them, leading to sustainable economic, social and spiritual development in the communities they serve. We recognise that wisdom comes from many places, and that a dialogue and alliance can be opened between people coming from different mainline faith positions and other sorts of value systems.
Local hubs seek to build on the wisdom their faith traditions have to offer to the world of work, the understanding of human connectedness, the goodwill and trust they hold in their communities, the social networks and relationships, and the resources such as skills, time and space in buildings which they have at their disposal, and open doors to new business and social enterprise. Hubs may spring from one particular faith community, but soon make a place of engagement with many other strands – the local business community and people interested in different common causes. They enable people of different faiths and all those who can find ‘wisdom’ a resource, to work together for the common good in creating employment, managing the hubs and identifying key projects to best benefit the local community. The Hubs support entrepreneurs in developing these new businesses through offering office space, start-up funding, business mentoring, signposting and connecting them with others.
Board of Directors
Faaria Ahmad, LLM
Faaria has an LLM in Law, Development and Governance from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is a board member of MADE in Europe, a Muslim youth campaign agency. She has experience of working within the development sector in capacity building, bid-writing and policy research. She has also worked with asylum seekers within a legal capacity. Her voluntary experience includes working with Muslim Human Rights organisations, NGOs and Islamic youth organisations. She works for Faith ReGen which is a partner organisation to Sophia Hubs.
Francis Davis FRSA, MCIPR
Francis is an entrepreneur and consultant who currently works with local authorities, social enterprises and NHS bodies on innovation, mutualisation and public policy. In his spare time he runs the Cathedral Innovation Centre and writes for The Tablet, New Statesman and other publications. Previously an Oxbridge Don he has been Visiting Fellow at LSE, Portsmouth Business School and the Young Foundation. Previously a private sector CEO he has served on industry bodies in the UK and EU. From 1992-2007 he was co-founder and then Chair of an award-winning social enterprise now employing a thousand staff. In 2011 he directed the Mayor of London’s Inter-Faith Conference at Somerset House.
Jonathan is currently Vicar of St John’s Seven Kings in Chelmsford Diocese, whose church centre is home to the Seven Kings Sophia Hub. He enjoys creative writing and painting and seeks to integrate them into his ministry. He runs an arts organisation called commission4mission. Before ordination he worked in a variety of managerial roles at Jobcentre Plus.
Rosy Fairhurst MA, MTh
Rosy is an Anglican Priest currently working with the Bromley by Bow Church and Centre. She previously worked as an organisational analyst for The Grubb Institute and on the staff of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. She was Director of Mission and Ministry at Ripon College Cuddesdon and worked in parishes in Hackney and Islington. She has also worked as a teacher and journalist.
Clive Sheldon BA Oxon
Clive is an experienced solicitor who has worked internationally as General Counsel for YCS Investments, founded and worked in Argentis Capital, a private equity company, secured political and project management commitment for a South African social infrastructure development programme and delivered a solar energy education project in South Africa. He is a member and steward at St Martin-in-the-Fields church
Aidan Ward MA, CEng
Experienced and radical systems thinker good at organisational interventions of many types. Author of a key book on trust and risk. Many high level consultancy assignments for clients including Tesco, Lloyds of London, Norwich Union and Transport for London. His areas of expertise include: Trust and risk management, systems modelling, information architectures.