Let’s turn this on its head and tell you about the way in which we work with our community.
Firstly, a bit about us. Olamalu are a web technology company based in Witney, West Oxfordshire. We are Drupal experts and pride ourselves on our forward thinking approach – not just in the nature of our business but also in the nurture of our business.
Our principles are based on working hard to continuously improve, focusing on our customers and giving back to the community in which our business exists.
The giving back bit needs, in our minds to be managed properly. It’s not just about free help or a raffle prize here and there, (although there is a place for this) To make a real difference you need to think strategically. If community support is part of your DNA, you will be surprised at how soon you see the fruits of your labour.
So, what does this mean? Well, for us, it’s about understanding where we want to make a difference and focusing our energy and time on those areas.
Supporting the next generation of young people is really close to our hearts. Why? As a technology company, the future is everything – development, progression and improvement are all part of our everyday efforts so applying this to our community involvement felt natural. We activate this in various ways including: working closely with a careers advice partner and helping to provide guidance in the world of work to secondary school pupils and writing a tailormade course on programming for secondary school children which we shared via setting up and running an after school workshop. This went very well and resulted a group of children who each built their own website. We’ve helped to set up a careers aspiration week in a local primary school where we identified key trades and careers that children were interested in and invited people from those fields to come and talk to the children, as well as arranging visits so that the pupils could see the ‘career’ in action. We also sit on the governing board of the same school where we give ongoing time, advice, input and sometimes technology help to improve and strengthen the school for the longterm.
For older students, we work closely with Witney and Abingdon College on offering IT work experience and run annual apprenticeships in our business. We spend time nurturing and training the students to become programmers, often employing them full time once they have finished their studies. Just as importantly, we teach them the softer skills of working in a business including how to effectively communicate with clients, prioritise work, manage their time and how to work in a team.
We also run shorter work placements and this year have had a French student working with us via Witney’s twin town, Le Touquet.
Charity is a secondary strand to our community work. Why? Well charity is good for communities, and we believe that they need back up from businesses to help them to thrive. We’ve chosen a certain number of local charities, whose causes are close to our hearts, and we help them on an ongoing basis. The nature of the help varies by charity but includes giving our technical expertise, building and hosting websites, business advice and support, sponsorship and our time.
Finally, our third strand is fellow businesses. We are a significant part of a business community where local business counts. We all need to support, help and trust each other to encourage our local economy to grow. Our help is in the form of the West Oxfordshire Business Awards (WOBA) and with a business group called Reciprocate.
WOBA throws positivity back into the economic ring by recognising and celebrating local business through the giving of awards through various categories. Launch events and the awards ceremony, as well as a tonne of positive marketing and PR, are a key part of the experience, and we are proud that we were part of the founding team for WOBA 6 years ago.
Today, we sit on the organising and judging committees as well as provide sponsorship and marketing input for the event. Celebrating local businesses is good for everyone, and we certainly feel very positive for doing so.
Reciprocate is an opportunity for responsible businesses to learn from each other when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, social impact and charitable giving. Reciprocate aims to help Oxfordshire’s business community become more strategic in their thinking about community engagement and realise their good intentions through the power of many. As a values driven business, we sit on the Steering Committee and are pleased to have been part of this worthwhile group from the very beginning.
The next generation, local charities and fellow businesses are the three strands to our community work. Each takes time, energy, resource and financial input, but we firmly believe that our business isn’t an island. Olamalu is a business with clear values.
Every positive effort has a knock-on effect to the wider business and social community. So what do we gain from it? What are our fruits? We gain immeasurable insights through the people we meet, fantastic ideas through the students we employ and an incredible learning experience through the charities we work with. The cherry on the top is the work we do with WOBA, which reminds us how rewarding owning and running your own business is, and what a positive ripple celebrating and rewarding excellence has.
We exist in a community and our team morale, our learning experience and our souls are better for the community support that we give.