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On 13 May 2013 - 2:41pm

If you’ve attended a social enterprise event during the last year, you’ll probably be aware that ‘social investment’, which for ages was ‘the next big thing’, has finally become ‘the big thing’… my latest blog post for The Young Foundation – a report from Social Enterprise Yorkshire & The Humber‘s social investment conference, Working Capital.


On 10 May 2013 - 7:57pm

Sports funding is far harder to come by since the Olympics.  Government cash for table tennis, cut from £1.2million before London 2012 to zero now, is a prime example of this grimmer new reality. Fortunately, it’s not all bad news for UK table tennis enthusiasts because the government is still putting lots of cash into supporting digital start-ups.

The exciting black table tennis table is just one striking feature of the shiny home of Wayra Unltd, the new digital accelerator ‘focused on start-ups that make a positive social impact’ which was launched in London this week.

Wayra Unltd was one of two bids funded in February’s first round of funding from the government’s Social Incubator Fund, with fellow tech ...more

On 29 April 2013 - 11:58am

Reporting on the recent Skoll World Forum for Pioneers Post, David Bank of Impact IQ reflects on the participants’ intoxication with idea of disruptiveness.

‘Disruption’ was the theme of the event and, Bank tells us, it provoked statements ranging from Forum founder, former eBay boss, Jeff Skoll’s relatively understated: ”Let’s disrupt our way to a different world” to former Eurythmics star Annie Lennox’s more ambitious “I want to disrupt the entire media“.

As Bank explains, social entrepreneurs “adopted disruption from the world of technology…” with the idea being  ”that new technologies that at first seemed clunky or even useless could nibble at the fringes of established markets with performance that was good enough for marginal customer groups ...more

On 18 April 2013 - 4:22pm

One of the key differences between a social venture and a traditional charity is that by definition, a social venture takes a commercial approach to solving a social problem. It sells a product or service to customers, putting the profits back towards addressing whatever issue it has chosen to pursue….

This is the first in a series of blog posts I’m writing for The Young Foundation Ventures Network’s new monthly e-newsletter. Here’s some more information about what the Ventures Network is along with details of how to get the newsletter sent to you.


On 9 April 2013 - 2:04pm

… many Fairtrade brands have progressed from the stall at the church coffee morning to the shelves of the major supermarkets, while many of their corporate rivals are now also producing their own Fairtrade products.

Unfortunately, many in the social enterprise movement observed the success of the Fairtrade brand and made some giant leaps of thinking that were superficially comforting but ultimately wrong“  – my latest mythbuster for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.


On 7 April 2013 - 3:03pm

Where is the Mark Zuckerburg of the UK social sector and who, if anyone, is going to help him to get his organisation from his bedroom to the point where’s it’s delivering positive social change on a significant scale?

That’s the question raised by Craig Dearden-Phillips is this typically provocative blog post. In a response last week, Nick Temple rightly highlighted the need for support for non-tech social enterprises, but the general points that Dearden-Phillips is making apply to social innovation in any branch of the social sector(s).

The Mark (or Martha) Zuckerberg of the social sector is currently, according to Dearden-Phillips ...more

On 3 April 2013 - 6:26pm

It’s now nearly a year since the prime minister, David Cameron, signalled a move away from “the stop-start, hand-to-mouth way the sector’s been funded” as he launched social investment wholesale finance institution, Big Society Capital (BSC).

It’s a year in which many charities and social enterprises have successfully moved from ‘stop-start’ to ‘stop’, while others have solved the hand-to-mouth problem by virtue of the fact that they can no longer get anything into their hands in the first place. Happy Birthday.

But this grim reality doesn’t really tell us anything much about whether BSC is being successful. As Civil Society‘s Vibeka Mair pointed out last week in this ...more

On 23 March 2013 - 5:41pm

In January, I pointed you in the direction of ‘A Creative Collaborate Environment’, my first Innovation Story for NCVO which featured my former employers, Exposure. The other three stories of social innovation in the series are now up and are all worth a read.

In one of them, Leah McPherson – now of the School for Social Entrepreneurs – explains the challenges involved in taking West London-based social enterprise urban farm, ...more

On 21 March 2013 - 12:15pm

In yesterday’s budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne,  revealed that tax relief on social investment will be included in the finance bill in 2014. Nick O’Donohoe, chief executive of social investment wholesale institution, Big Society Capital, was understandably pleased. He blogged that: “Today is an important day in the development of the social investment market.”

He added that the announcement would: “be pivotal in encouraging greater numbers of individuals to provide funding to social ...more

On 11 March 2013 - 10:59am

Amongst last week’s UK social enterprise news was this story in The Shetland Times about the difficulties encountered by Shetland-based social enterprise, COPE. The company, which provides training, support and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, is in the process of working out how to deal with “the loss of more than £100,000 of core funding” from the local council.

In the story, COPE’s chairman, Jimmy Smith, explains: “Luckily we have a grant from the charitable trust, and that covers the rental of our building and some of the administration staff, but it does not cover any of our participants or our support workers.”

Smith goes on to talk about the success of COPE’s businesses, which include a soap company and a pet supplies shop saying: “We actually cover more than 50 per ...more