Pioneers Post
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  • user warning: UPDATE command denied to user '408302_semagad'@'10.187.244.59' for table 'cache_filter' query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>Few things excite business gurus more than the discovery of a new cluster of economic activity, whether it be IT and now &lsquo;clean tech&rsquo; industries in Silicon Valley, Formula 1 engineering in southern England, leather handbags in northern Italy or even AK47 refurbishment in troubled areas of Pakistan or Afghanistan. So how long before they switch on to the emerging UK social enterprise incubation cluster? Sometimes it seems there are more people trying to help social entrepreneurs scale up than there are social entrepreneurs, but the demand is clearly there and the cluster now includes the likes of Bridges Ventures, ClearlySo, Eastside Consulting, The Hub, Imaginals, UnLtd, Wavelength, What If? &ndash; and, yes, our own company Volans.</p>\n<p>Some of these organisations have been around for years, while others are much more recent start-ups. Standing back from the fray, two things strike us as remarkable about this cluster. First, the sheer diversity of background of the people involved &ndash;Rod Schwartz of ClearlySo worked infinance, Liam Black of Wavelength was asocial entrepreneur with Fifteen restaurant and the Furniture Resource Centre, and Geoff Mulgan of the Young Foundation was Tony Blair&rsquo;s director of policy at No 10. Clearly there is a powerful force pulling all this talent together, but what is it &ndash; and where is it taking us?</p>\n<p>One factor is the appeal of social entrepreneurs themselves. They are extraordinary, magnetic people and are tackling problems that will be the defining challenges for the coming decades. Our lives are immeasurably brightened by the stream of entrepreneurs who turn up in our office, from Kresse Wesling of Elvis &amp;Kresse, Lily Lapenna of My Bnk, Amanda Jones of Red Button Design or Gobion Rowlands of Red Redemption.</p>\n<p>But, as always with such forward thinking people, there is the question of how to finance their innovations. For deep-pocketed corporations that want to sponsor social entrepreneurs the question of funding is easy, but if you&rsquo;re trying to find support for independent early-stage projects it can be a very different story.</p>\n<p>Various foundations have become enthusiastically involved in this space &ndash;indeed, at Volans we benefited hugely from early Skoll Foundation support. Such foundations are attracted to the potential of some social entrepreneurs to break out of the charitable funding loop by creating self-sustaining business models.</p>\n<p>We will see where government support goes after the election, but there is a real risk that expectations of the social enterprise sector will grow at the same time as departmental budgets are ferociously squeezed. So expect a growing interest in the dark horse in all of this: big business.</p>\n<h4>Corporate playground</h4>\n<p>Not that the corporate sector has always been easy to engage. When we were working with Pamela Hartigan, then director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, on the 2002World Economic Forum summit in New York, we hired a huge ballroom in the Waldorf Astoria hotel, to which business leaders were invited to meet leading social entrepreneurs. Almost no one showed up.</p>\n<p>Yet today there is the beginning of a corporate stampede as social entrepreneurs are spotlighted and feted at major events such as the Clinton Global Initiative and the various TED conferences. And at the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation events are some of the hottest tickets in town.</p>\n<p>No one should be in any doubt that social entrepreneurs are desperately keen to work more closely with mainstream business. When we polled several hundred entrepreneurs in the first round of our Skoll-funded work, there was pretty much a universal consensus that they had to work out how to work with corporations and other business organisations &ndash; coupled with an unease that they didn&rsquo;t know how to do it while ensuring their principles were not compromised.</p>\n<p>Media coverage of the small but growing number of partnerships between social enterprises and major corporations has spurred this interest&ndash; perhaps most notably the Danone - Grameen co-venture in Bangladesh (see Social Enterprise, issue 65). Sadly, though, not every social entrepreneur is a Nobel Prize-winning Muhammad Yunus, and not every CEO has the vision of Danone&rsquo;s Frank Riboud. Key principles in making such relationships work include finding partners with a matched appetite for risk, sharing a set of ambitions and expectations, and critically, being willing to engage in candid reviews and discussion of progress &ndash; or the lack of it.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, there&rsquo;s another trend to watch out for &ndash; major companies deciding to do &lsquo;disruptive change&rsquo; on their own account. Take General Electric, with its courageous 2004 plunge into Ecomagination, designed to boost the giant company&rsquo;s clean technology portfolio. Thanks to heavy investment in new products designed to solve environmental challenges, GE&rsquo;s revenues in this area grew from $6bn in 2004 to$17bn in 2008 &ndash; and are projected to reach $25bn in 2010. Even more relevant here is GE&rsquo;s younger sister initiative, Healthymagination, which is looking to provide social benefits through in expensive healthcare technology and services. One of the most interesting aspects of this is what GE chairman and CEO JeffreyIm melt refers to as &lsquo;reverse innovation&rsquo;. This involves companies innovating in poor countries with local partners to bring less expensive products both to local markets and back into the developed world. These include GE&rsquo;s $1,000handheld electrocardiogram and portable, mobile phone-sized ultrasound machines that are likely to cost under $10,000 &ndash;dramatically less than competing devices.</p>\n<p>Or take Glaxo SmithKline (GSK), which is also pioneering new market models and setting the pace for the rest of the pharmaceutical industry. In February 2009 its new CEO Andrew Witt announced commitments to developing healthcare and medicine provision in developing countries. GSK said it would cut prices for all drugs in the 50 least developed countries to no more than 25 per cent of the price in the UK and US &ndash; and less if possible. The company also pledged to make drugs more accessible in middle-income countries such as Brazil and India.</p>\n<p>Even more striking, GSK is planning to move into branded generic drugs that willgive larger numbers of poor people access to high quality medicines.</p>\n<p>So just as social enterprises are looking to become more businesslike so major companies are starting to invest in new forms of social innovation. And, at least potentially, they can do so at a scale that most social entrepreneurs can only dream about.</p>\n<p>Even so, more often than not this still doesn&rsquo;t touch the core business. Pepsi, for example, instead of spending millions of dollars on yet another 30-secondcelebrity-filled Super Bowl advertisement his year has decided to invest in its new Pepsi &lsquo;Refresh Everything&rsquo; campaign &ndash;about &lsquo;refreshing ideas that change the world&rsquo;. This campaign allows the public to vote on the &lsquo;people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas&rsquo; that have a positive impact on the US community. Winners are granted funds from a $20m pool that would otherwise have gone to a more traditional Super Bowl plug. According to media analyst Neilsen, Pepsi&rsquo;s &lsquo;Refresh Everything&rsquo; campaign accounted for more than 21 per cent of the media coverage and online buzz around Super Bowl advertising. But the product remains the same.</p>\n<p>Finally, but perhaps most significantly in terms of the future evolution of their own cultures, growing numbers of companies realise that employees are the ultimate key to success.</p>\n<p>Typically, people work harder and better when what they are doing is connected to something that helps them feel aligned with the company&rsquo;s core values. Accenture cracked this challenge by offering its consultants an opportunity to work with NGOs through its Accenture Development Partners programme. Not only does Accenture benefit from having employees who are keen to be given the opportunity to use their skills to help make the world a better place, but the NGOs are able to access top talent that can help transform their own efficiency and effectiveness.</p>\n<h4>Risky business</h4>\n<p>In each of these examples the companies have had to take risks, think in terms of longer time horizons and find the right people to help set and achieve their goals. But increasingly company leaders recognise that a critical success factor is their capacity to attract and work with top-notch social entrepreneurs and enterprises. As a result, and in addition to the &lsquo;bottom-up&rsquo; initiatives started by passionate employees in big companies, we are now seeing chief executives, chief operating officers and chief finance officers developing &lsquo;top down&rsquo; models.</p>\n<p>For those of us co-evolving Britain&rsquo;s social enterprise cluster, these trends raise many questions. Should we be focusing on agreed definitions of social entrepreneurship or investing effort across the spectrum of social innovation, regardless of the scale or nature of the operation? Should we have the equivalent of the medical profession&rsquo;s Hippocratic oath in relation to ensuring the interests of social entrepreneurs are protected in partnerships we broker with major businesses? And will we see a time when &ndash; in the interests of the cluster as a whole and its beneficiaries &ndash; there needs to be a growing tempo of mergers and acquisitions to ensure the scaling up of solutions and ubiquity of service?</p>\n<p>In future issues of Social Enterprise we will share candid conversations between corporations and social entrepreneurs they have partnered with &ndash; spotlighting best practice, mapping key barriers to progress and drawing out key lessons from the inevitable mistakes and failures along the way.</p>\n<p><em><strong>John Elkington is co-founder and executive chairman of Volans and Charmian Love is its CEO </strong></em></p>\n<p><em><strong><a href=\"http://www.volans.com/\">www.volans.com</a></strong></em></p>\n', created = 1464251862, expire = 1464338262, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:fcdfde79c6d99bb68439732e02ae7f50' in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/includes/cache.inc on line 109.
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  • user warning: UPDATE command denied to user '408302_semagad'@'10.187.244.59' for table 'cache_filter' query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>Over 4,300 social enterprises and third sector organisations trust us to look after over 149,000 employees&rsquo; pensions.With more than 65 years&rsquo; experience, we understand.</p>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">Contact us to find out about our reliable and comprehensive pensions service.</div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">&nbsp;</div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">Contact:</div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">The Pensions Trust, Verity House,</div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">6 Canal Wharf, Leeds LS11 5BQ</div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">t: 0845 123 6611</div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">e: <a href=\"mailto:contact@thepensionstrust.org.uk\">contact@thepensionstrust.org.uk</a></div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">w: <a href=\"http://uk.sitestat.com/socpen/pensionstrust/s?SocialEnterpriseLiveAdvetorial1111&amp;ns_type=clickin \">www.thepensionstrust.org.uk</a></div>\n<div id=\"cke_pastebin\">twitter: <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/PensionsTrust\">PensionsTrust</a></div>\n', created = 1464251863, expire = 1464338263, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '1:78fd6a15496db5eba2ecc3f71f7d7e5b' in /mnt/stor2-wc1-dfw1/408302/www.socialenterpriselive.com/web/content/includes/cache.inc on line 109.
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Irresistible attraction

19 April 2010

Big businesses are being drawn more and more towards the possibilities for social innovation. John Elkington and Charmian Love of Volans consider where it all might lead

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