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On 21 October 2012 - 6:09pm

This is the first in an occasional series of updates about things going on in the world of social enterprise (and related fields) that I think readers might be interested in.  To avoid any confusion, none of the mentions below are paid-for ads but the activities I’m personally involved in will (like this blog itself) mostly be work I’ve been doing as part of my day job at Social Spider CIC. The regularity of the series will depend on its popularity.

Book of the week:

On current evidence, it would be easy to think the future of UK social enterprise was partly as a mechanism for outsourcing public services and partly as a competition to see which Shoreditch-based geniuses can come up with the silliest, most expensively innovated idea for convincing people who don’t want to volunteer to volunteer.


On 18 October 2012 - 12:27am

My exciting series of interviews with social enterprise leaders for Social Enterprise Live is now called Floyd’s Leader Focus. Here’s the second one, with Co-Operatives UK‘s Secretary General, Ed Mayo.


On 14 October 2012 - 11:40pm

I spent part of last Friday (5th) at Outsourcing and Austerity: Civil Society and the Coalition Government, a conference held at TUC headquarters and supported by the unions, Unite and Unison, and the voluntary sector umbrella groups, NAVCA and NCIA.

Given the title of the conference and the organisations supporting it, it was pleasantly surprising that the breakout discussion entitled ‘What is social enterprise?’ – sensibly revised on the day to ‘Social ...more

On 8 October 2012 - 2:35pm

Investment readiness is often widely understood as a state, which comprises a number of key characteristics, much like business readiness or market readiness. But what it means to be investment ready will vary from one investee to another and is determined to a significant degree by the eye of the beholder – in this case the investor.

As mentioned previously, we’ve recently seen the publication two key reports on the future of the UK’s hype-ridden social investment ‘sector’. The above quote is from the second of these, Investment Readiness in the UKa report from Clearly So and ...more

On 1 October 2012 - 2:55pm

For the first time, this report provides us with a clear and logical approach to understanding the drivers of social investment demand.

So says Nick O’Donohue, chief executive of Big Society Capital, in his introduction to The First Billion: A Forecast of Social Investment Demand, a report from Boston Consulting Group commissioned by his new wholesale finance institution. He’s completely right, although given that the government has long since taken decision to give Big Society Capital £600million from unclaimed assets, it’s somewhat perplexing that the issue of demand hasn’t merited logical analysis at an earlier stage.

The First Billion is one of two recent reports – the other, the Big Lottery-commissioned ...more

On 27 September 2012 - 12:10pm

I always liked the idea of co-operative businesses and, in the early 2000s, when I was working in Kentish Town, I often dropped into the local Co-operative supermarket hoping to buy something. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done… My fifth mythbusting column for The Guardian‘s social enterprise network on how view that co-operatives are old fashioned has itself become old fashioned


On 22 September 2012 - 4:23pm

Do you run a social enterprise? Do you buy stuff from other social enterprises? If not, why not? These are the essential questions being asked by Social Enterprise UK(SEUK)’s new campaign Buy Social.

Having successfully convinced a corporate cloud computing giant to drop a major chunk of its marketing strategy, the umbrella body’s next trick is apparently to attempt to convince some people to do something that you might imagine they would’ve been doing anyway.

SEUK’s research shows that 1 in 4 social enterprises don’t make any regular purchases from other social enterprises at all and while, on the plus side 70% of social enterprises have at least one other social enterprise in their supply chain, only 13% said that the majority of their suppliers are social enterprises. ...more

On 10 September 2012 - 12:09am

You’d have to have been living on the moon, or at least in a world without access leading social entrepreneurs’ Twitter feeds, to have missed this week’s successful conclusion to the heated discussion between cloud computing specialists, Salesforce and (a substantial chunk of) the social enterprise world.

For those of you who did manage to miss it, Salesforce have been using the term ‘social enterprise’ to describe their social media products and the companies who make use of them. While some in the social enterprise movement had raised concerns about this before, it was Salesforce’s recent decision to seek a wide-ranging UK trademark  that ...more

On 2 September 2012 - 3:29pm

To an upstairs floor at Google’s London campus for Thursday’s ‘What is the potential for new startups to get involved in Social Care?‘ – an event organised by digital social problem solvers, Social Innovation Camp.

The event featured a panel discussion with some of the leading thinkers in the bit of the venn diagram where social care intersects with digital technology:

Shirley Ayres – social care consultant and presenter of the Disruptive Social Care podcast – pointed out that there is no shortage of funders for social innovation in care and people with ideas could spend their whole lives putting in funding applications. The difficulty was that this didn’t solve the ...more

On 26 August 2012 - 8:40pm

It’s always worth reading Laurence De Marco’s weekly Senscot social enterprise e-mail bulletin. One of many reasons for that is Laurence is one of the few voices in the UK social enterprise support sector to offer anything remotely resembling clear position on social investment.

This week the Bulletin includes a link to Senscot’s discussion paper on Social Investment in Scotland which merits wider consideration by those of us working in the rest of the UK and beyond. The paper explores the role of the UK’s government’s social investment wholesale finance institution, Big Society Capital, points out why its approach is ‘fundamentally flawed’ and suggests a ‘Scottish Community Bank’ as an alternative ...more