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On 10 November 2013 - 12:40am

At the beginning of a workshop at last week’s Good Deals social investment conference, the panel chair suggested that the panelist from Big Society Capital (BSC) needed to put a toilet on their head because everyone was crapping on them.

While, Caroline Mason, the social investment wholesale institution’s outgoing chief operating officer, wasn’t the person on the receiving end in that specific instance, she’s had to deal with plenty of tough questions since the organisation was launched by the prime minister in April 2012.

At the time, minister for civil society, Nick Hurd ...more

On 26 October 2013 - 2:10pm

As in the UK, the needs and expectations of German social investors and social enterprises are very different” – my latest feature for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network looks at the emergence of social investment in Germany.


On 24 October 2013 - 11:37am

The UK is no longer the only country in the world with a ‘Social Stock Exchange’. SVX, short for Social Venture Connexion, was launched in Canada in September… ” – my latest feature for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network on Ontario’s social stock exchange and why it’s different from other ventures with a similar name.


On 14 October 2013 - 7:01pm

Anyone who’s ever been a ten-year-old child who enjoyed telling people interesting facts will know that, according to someone or other who’s definitely right, you’re never more than six feet away from a rat.

Similarly, anyone who’s ever been to a social enterprise conference will know that, in such a setting, you’re never more than six minutes away from the social enterprise definition debate. At Social Enterprise Question Time, a series of Question Time-style events that my company, Social Spider CIC, organises in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, we ensure that ‘How do you define a social enterprise?’ is the final question put to the panel at every event. Not because it’s an interesting question but because, if we ...more

On 11 October 2013 - 4:39pm

“… The mistake is to fail to realise that – unless you’re developing a patentable technological innovation – the dangers of telling people about your idea will usually be far smaller than the dangers of not telling people about your idea… ” – my latest blog post for The Young Foundation.

Readers may notice that I don’t go into much detail about my plan for tackling youth unemployment through a combination of skateboarding and environmental action. Obviously, I don’t want anyone stealing the idea.


On 9 October 2013 - 11:33pm

This post is the second in a series of four posts about the Reconstructing Social Enterprise seminar series. The first post in the series focused on a paper exploring a range of different critical approaches to social enterprise research.

The post looks at Angela Eikenberry’s paper Refusing the Market: A Democratic Discourse for Voluntary and Nonprofit Organisations‘, which formed the basis for her presentation at the 3rd Reconstructing Social Enterprise seminar in Birmingham in April, takes aim at “the increasing marketization of nonprofit ...more

On 3 October 2013 - 9:24am

… the 2002 definition of social enterprise published by the then Department of Trade and Industry, which states that: ‘A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.’

Unfortunately, it’s utter codswallop – not because it’s necessarily wrong about social enterprises, but because it’s wrong about businesses which are not social enterprises…” – the is the last in my Mythbusting series for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.

This is the last Mythbusting feature because I’ve reached the point where I’ve busted all the major social enterprise myths I wanted to bust. That obviously ...more

On 30 September 2013 - 10:35am

it’s not unusual for high-profile social enterprises to emerge from nowhere, win some awards and/or big public contracts then go out of business never to be discussed in public again…my latest feature for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network on failure as a platform for social enterprise innovation.


On 24 September 2013 - 3:53pm

As oxymorons go the social entrepreneur has not done badly, especially considering its modest beginnings” – so begins Charles Leadbeater in his contribution to Twenty Years of Ideas, a collection of essays to mark 20 years of the thinktank, Demos.

More than any other thinktanker, it was Leadbeater who first brought the term ‘social entrepreneur’ to the attention of politicians, civil servants, journalists in the UK. His 1997 Demos pamphlet The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur is, even for those of us who disagree with many of its key arguments, both a seminal text and, as 16-year-old think tank reports go, a surprisingly good read.

Responding to his former self in honour of Demos’s 20th, Leadbeater reflects on what he now ...more

On 13 September 2013 - 10:39am

Most social enterprises do not own buildings and particularly in their early stages, do not make profits that are large enough to repay loans. On that basis it seems strange that, according to recent research from the City of London, loans secured against buildings make up 90% of the UK social investment market…” – my latest article for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network looks at social enterprises and equity.