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SEC18: Robbie Norval from Lingo Flamingo

We had a lovely chat with Robbie from Lingo Flamingo about the nature of the project, starting a social enterprise, the inspiration behind it and lots more.


19th January 2016

If you’ve been following the podcast you’ll no doubt be aware of how much I laud the diversity of social enterprise. Indeed, with Christmas passed and the New Year firmly worn in, the time for reflection is well and truly over. However, during that end-of-year reflection it dawned on me that social enterprise is indeed simply a business model that can applied to businesses everywhere. It is not a sector, rather it is a modus operandi; it is fundamentally different from the traditional type of business that we know. It goes without saying that it is also a better kind of business.

Therefore we should not be surprised at the diversity of those that call themselves social enterprises any more than we should be surprised at the diversity of business generally.

It remains as important and as vital, as ever that businesses of all kinds measure their contribution to society, be that through corporate social responsibility or through social enterprise. Social enterprises are geared towards helping communities, be that local, national or international, and Lingo Flamingo is no exception.

I spoke with Managing Director Robbie Norval about Lingo Flamingo and how it started. Founded in April 2015 Lingo Flamingo’s concept is straight forward – to provide tailored foreign language workshops to help battle against dementia and other forms of mental illness. There is a growing body of neurological research which shows that being bilingual or multi-lingual may prevent the onset of dementia by up to five years, and this is just one of the benefits being multi-lingual can have on one’s mental health.

Furthermore, by conducting interactive workshops Lingo Flamingo also help reduce social isolation, something which is increasingly common among older people.

All of this adds up to another social enterprise which is doing something radically different. Ling Flamingo is opening a new market where one simply has not existed before whilst simultaneously achieving social goals.

I’m sure you’ll agree that Lingo Flamingo is a fascinating project. Highlights of this interview include:

  • The genesis of lingo flamingo
  • The influence to start a social enterprise
  • Why they focus on language
  • Some of the research behind it
  • How the project helps reduce social isolation
  • The way they measure their social impact
  • Why social enterprise is important
  • And some of the challenges they have faced in their first year

Robbie was a wonderful guest. It was so great to hear about someone who knew about social enterprise before he started his business, and who is very keenly aware about social impact and its measurement.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.


Lingo Flamingo Website
Lingo Flamingo impact research
On Twitter
On Facebook

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