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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

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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

On 21 August 2012 - 11:10am

While there are plenty of great people who others might describe that way, there’s a strong possibility that someone who looks in the mirror and sees ‘a visionary and ultimate realist’ will ultimately deliver more hot air than positive change… Here’s the fourth of my mythbusting columns for the The Guardian‘s social enterprise network.

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On 10 August 2012 - 6:48pm

As if a double dip recession, record cuts in public spending and the contracting arrangements for the Work Programme weren’t enough for the social enterprise movement to contend with, the world’s attempts to prove the correctness of the late Gore Vidal’s claim that “no good deed goes unpunished” have now moved into the murky arena of intellectual property.

The problem is not that cloud computing specialists, Salesforce.com, have got anything specifically against businesses ‘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’, it’s just that they use ‘Social Enterprise’ for a different purpose, to define the exciting range of products they offer to ...more

On 4 August 2012 - 8:31pm

If you run a social enterprise, or a charity that bids for public contracts, you may be thinking that it’s about time you started to scale up. The number of people in politics and ‘intermediary’ organisations that want you to scale up your social venture is far greater than the number of people who care what your social venture is or does.

It’s an interesting progression from the situation in the 2005 – 2009 period, when the number of social enterprise consultants helping people to write business plans vastly exceeded the number of social entrepreneurs with a viable plan for a business. So, there is now a growing artificial market primarily focused on not scaling up the viable social ventures that weren’t started then.

Unfortunately, while the government in particular is artificially stimulating the market for people to help companies get ...more