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On 4 December 2013 - 12:11am

Clearly there was something in the fairtrade coffee at The Fire Station last week. Not content with celebrating the success of some of the UK’s finest social enterprises and social entrepreneurs at the UK Social Enterprise Awards, the Social Enterprise UK(SEUK)’s staff team somehow found the time to make swashbuckling interventions into the latest debate about social enterprise definition.

First up was Director of Business & Enterprise, Nick Temple. In a strongly worded blog post, he tore into the idea that ‘trust engines’, a proposed mechanism to tackle the problem of how organisations can deliver a return on equity investments to private investors whilst ...more

On 18 November 2013 - 6:24pm

With over 500 delegates this year, Good Deals has become the UK’s premier social investment conference. Here’s my five ‘takeaways’ from Good Deals 2013:

(1) UK social investment is beginning to get the idea that the most exciting financial products aren’t necessarily the ones that best meet the needs of social enterprises and charities – the tone of the discussion from the platforms seemed more pragmatic and less self congratulatory than in previous years. In the ‘Why social investment’ plenary on Day One, Big Lottery Fund‘s Matt Roche, made clear that social investment was ‘not a magic wand’ while outgoing Big Society Capital chief operating officer, Caroline Mason, noted that the ‘conversation has been about mechanics ...more

On 15 November 2013 - 6:07pm

… it naturally follows that all we need to do is buy some skateboards and some lawnmowers, put up some messages on social media (whatever that is) with directions to the field and then loads of enthusiastic clients will turn up to take advantage of the opportunity…” – my latest blog post for The Young Foundation.

I’ve written it, so I’m hoping at least a couple of people will come and read it.


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