Origin Purpose & History

Olmec is a BME led Social Enterprise which champions race equality through economic and social justice. We support people into jobs, into social businesses and on to boards. We work as a catalyst for social change.


Our name ‘Olmec’ was chosen to remember an important South American civilization living in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico, in the modern-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco. It reflects the aspiration in our work to acknowledge the rich diversity of cultures that have fed into the present that we share.

“If stories aren’t told they will be forgotten.”


Olmec empowers individuals to take an active role in society and achieve their goals and aspirations. By accessing the services delivered through Olmec, individuals and organisations are able to develop their skills, services and capacity in order to turn around their lives and the lives of others. Our services are bespoke and tailored to the individual or organisation. We are able to personalise and customise our services to achieve the best result for the people we work with.

“We offer a unique blend of skills in the field of social enterprise, employment services, community development, equalities and diversity, and research tailored to need.”


Olmec was established in 2003 as a response to the entrenched poverty and disadvantage experienced by people living in challenging neighbourhoods. Olmec was initially set up as a charitable subsidiary of a housing association. Over the years it has developed a number of inter-related programmes to address some of the needs identified, primarily focusing on governance and leadership, equality and human rights, social enterprise development, employment, and lack of skills.

In June 2010, Olmec became an independent charity and established a Co-operative Community Interest Company. It has transformed the way it delivers its work and has developed its portfolio of marketed services such as First Steps, Step Ahead, Step Change, Solid Foundations, Co-operative Diversity Action, Black On Board, I.comm and Midnimo.


Our vision is “to create positive social change by empowering individuals, organisations and communities through training, support, networking and investment.”


We are passionate about serving communities and individuals with integrity, inspiration and accountability.

“At the core of all of our work are the values of social justice, honesty, transparency and excellence.”

What we do

Our services include:

  • Employment Support which provides a brokerage service and a range of interventions to develop confidence, skills, experience, directly supporting people into work.
  • Community Engagement, enabling Housing Associations and other civil society organisations to understand or deliver to the needs and aspirations of the communities they support.
  • Social Enterprise Business Support such as the First Steps training programme for pre-starts and new-starts or the Step Ahead programme providing one-to-one support, training and networking for existing social enterprises.  We also provide bespoke consultancy.
  • Diversity and Inclusion services from one-off training days to full diversity strategy development delivered by a team of specialists.  We turn diversity from a barrier to an asset!
  • Leadership and Governance programmes such as Black on Board which aims to tackle under-representation in governance.  Professional training and assistance to identify civil society organisation governance roles for people from ethnic minorities.

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Race Equality through economic and social justice