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I don’t know whether any of you saw a recent article in the Times about ‘Social entrepreneurs’ but it was a really interesting piece exploring some of the strong similarities between business and social entrepreneurship, along with  interesting possibilities to strengthen ties between the two. In fact, Dr Hartigan, an Oxford academic at Said Business School, goes so far as to reject the distinction between social entrepreneurs and their for-profit peers “I believe that all enterprise should be social. You can no longer be an entrepreneur and simply dismiss the social impact of what you are doing” (Times Friday April 15th)

 

She gives a couple of pointers that could be very useful in terms of a Big Society approach that brings business and community together. Firstly she radically redefines social enterprise: it is not, as the present government would have it, another form of charity that operates on business lines to meet basic needs at cheaper cost.  Charities exist primarily to provide a service and work within the present system – they must for instance comply with contractual arrangements laid down by government.  Entrepreneurs by contrast are ‘system changers’-and that applies whether they are operating in the business world or the social economy; they   shake up the system and approach problems and solutions in entirely new ways.

 

Put another way, entrepreneurs experiment, take risks, fail and try again- and you can’t really do that if you are supposed to be providing a stable service for vulnerable people.

 

 Secondly, she refers to her role as matching entrepreneurs with MBA students many of whom are ‘desperate to find meaningful opportunities’ to use their project management skills and support entrepreneurs with great ideas. The latter   lack the practical business skills and understanding that her MBA students can give. In her experience most entrepreneurs don’t go to business school and have often dropped out of further education to pursue their vision.

 

What strikes me about the role of matchmaker, is that it could be widened to include other players; MBA students are surely just one among many forms of human capital that could be mobilised-what about existing businesses, retired businessmen or other professionals?  Much depends upon the nature and scale of the ideas in question, as well as the ambition of the social entrepreneur.   

 

The kind of matchmaking she talks about lends itself easily to social media, yet it can only work if combined with    face to face introductions of the kind she undertakes. In the end it is trust, not technology that is the key ingredient.  There are now a plethora of online social network platforms emerging in response to the Big Society agenda (this being one of them), but they all seem to overlook just how difficult it is to build online relationships- and all the more so if    the aim is to match social entrepreneurs with hardnosed business people. 


While I could not find further information about Dr Hartigan operates ( I looked up the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship referred to in the article) I imagine that  social media that facilitated contact  might operate rather like a dating agency, - members   would have a brief profile which  would say something about themselves, their interests and what they had to offer but with this difference : that any initial communication and later  face to face meeting would be  via an honest broker, someone who could nurture the kind of trust needed to develop real partnerships and a sharing of ideas that unleash innovation.   What follows  after that first meeting could be anything from a one-off further meeting, to time limited  informal mentoring, or if the relationship progressed,  to   a dynamic longer term partnership that kindled the kind of visionary innovation talked about by Dr Hartigan.  

I know LinkedIn has the potential to be something like this but I'm not sure it is quite the right platform. If anyone knows of others, please share          

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Replies to This Discussion

Gavin, I think I can show you.

Right now on the Skoll Social Edge forum I'm discussing the for-profit approach to social enterprise with several other pioneers.  It's a model we brought to the UK in 2004 and have since used to leverage social impact.

 

In 2009 the Oxford Social Enterprise Forum OXSEF, held a conference to discuss whether a new form of capitalism was possible. Of that I had no doubt as will be revealed shortly. We then witnessed an explosion in new capitalisms. They were creative, compassionate, constructive, connected, conscious and conscience driven in their various forms. Never underestimate the value of alliteration in economic thinking. I kept a record of them.  .

Some could be interpreted as buying into the existing paradigm of consumtion capitalism, as this animation from the RSA asserts.

Now I offer the evolution of People-Centered Economics from an ethical case for making people a priority over imagined numbers.

I was asked for a Social Report recently for the RBS SE 100 index and here it is.

I've been advocating a social exchange for many years, so it's just as much our vision. The difference perhaps is that we left the academic reasoning behind to go out and do it. 

Believe me, social enterprise hasn't yet become that social.

 

Jeff

 

 

 

 

 


 

Thanks for this Gavin. Absolutely agree with the emphasis on the need to play a brokerage role & we've recently been doing this with a county council. Few things that occur as relevant;

 

Have a look at Pilotlight who broker private sector experience into community projects (http://www.pilotlight.org.uk/) as do Cranfield Trust (http://www.cranfieldtrust.org/)

 

Needs to be based on relationships; what community Links refer to as Deep value relationships (http://www.community-links.org/our-national-work/publications/deep-...)

 

Lastly, relates to work that myself & colleagues completed whilst at CDF where we argued for an 'intermediary' role - others are making similar case - Young Foundation, Community Matters - see attached report

Attachments:

Nice idea in theory, and if the MBAs could be suitably supervised this could be an interesting idea.  However do not underestimate the cultural chasms that may exist between entrepreneurs and project managing MBAs.  A great idea on paper may well turn into a not so civil war in practice

 

The problem is not facilitating the introduction, but mediating the relationship and enabling each to see how a degree of cooperation and collaboration might be mutually beneficial.

I'll offer an exampe of that chasm Mike with a lesson learned. It's a lesson which first appears from fiction and may on first inspection appear frivolous. A lesson nevertheless from Tao teaching which advises that we should affirm the good in man through trust and deal with evil (and perhaps betrayal) through strength.

 

Imagine now trust as in the allegorical carpenter's nail being presented as a bank, a bank with a kind face which itself talks about trust. They want social business ideas in Eastern Europe and I have a big one . An exchange of email begins with a comment on the web site.

 

As can be seen from the social impact report I posted above, our strength is an ethical position that demands redress where in this case, lives have been lost

 

This is being hard nosed. We choose to be as doves with doves. If they turn out to be hawks we can deal with it.

 

As the last comment on that last video concludes "One person of integrity can make a difference - a difference between life and death'  That means challenging organised crime in this case, and looking around us, we find no bankers, no lawyers, no MBAs and above all no other business alongside.



Mike Chitty said:

Nice idea in theory, and if the MBAs could be suitably supervised this could be an interesting idea.  However do not underestimate the cultural chasms that may exist between entrepreneurs and project managing MBAs.  A great idea on paper may well turn into a not so civil war in practice

 

The problem is not facilitating the introduction, but mediating the relationship and enabling each to see how a degree of cooperation and collaboration might be mutually beneficial.

Thanks for the useful feedbacks - and links which I am starting to explore.

I fully take on board the potential mismatch (or cultural chasm) between an MBA student and social entrepreneurs. Certainly there might need to be a lot of hand holding on both sides by an 'honest broker' and even then it may not work. I think it's more a case of wisely choosing the appropriate business buddy or partner - one that really fits with the needs of a social entrepreneur. Project Managing MBA's may be wholly inappropriate to a 'social visionary' who clearly has a great idea but hasn't got any further than sketching out a business plan and still needs to learn project management basics. An MBA student may find such a partnership frustrating and lacking the kind challenge that uses his skills.

One of the main issues that Jeff refers to in a couple of his links - the dissonance between measuring the human impact of a project, and its financial return is one stage further on from what I was looking at. It's still a big issue and our 'honest broker' might then try to identify and introduce a very different kind of business man. For example our social visionary is gone beyond proof of concept and is running a small but highly successful enterprise; however she just doesnt get all this talk of ROI because all her instincts rebel against the idea (possibly for good reasons?) - yet she is keen to find new funding streams beyond cash strapped councils who cheer her on but offer no money.

So the question really comes down to how can we help people to access the best possible support just when they need it?  Or, how do we develop a better informed demand side for enterprise support of whatever flavour.

We faff about fiddling on the supply side when the real opportunity lies on the demand side, surely.

Mike, if by the demand side you mean revenue generating enterprise for social investment, I was commenting on the Economist today, with regard to deployment of broadband, in the context of its benefit in its own right and also being the revenue engine for investing in further social innovation, by being the economic driver for social enterprise.

 

http://www.economist.com/comment/893390#comment-893390      

By demand side I was thinking of the entrepreneurs that (may) actually want/need support.  

 

We should invest in building their ability to make informed decisions when it comes to building their support networks instead of keep trying to foist various suppliers onto them....by tinkering with the supply side through various support schemes...

Hi Jeff

I've been looking at a couple of links you shared. (I wasnt able to get into one of them because of malware warning - click on 'part one' link)

The initiative seems to be big in terms of scale and range - from childrens centre to rolling out broad band nationally. To what extent is success dependant on an active partnership with the public sector willing to invest in services?

and how transferrable is this model here? can social enterprises in the Ukraine make a profit while meeting real human needs? I know these are big questions and there are probably a raft of reports you could throw at me, but just some off-the-top-of-your head feedback will do,

thanks

Jeff Mowatt said:

Gavin, I think I can show you.

Right now on the Skoll Social Edge forum I'm discussing the for-profit approach to social enterprise with several other pioneers.  It's a model we brought to the UK in 2004 and have since used to leverage social impact.

 

In 2009 the Oxford Social Enterprise Forum OXSEF, held a conference to discuss whether a new form of capitalism was possible. Of that I had no doubt as will be revealed shortly. We then witnessed an explosion in new capitalisms. They were creative, compassionate, constructive, connected, conscious and conscience driven in their various forms. Never underestimate the value of alliteration in economic thinking. I kept a record of them.  .

Some could be interpreted as buying into the existing paradigm of consumtion capitalism, as this animation from the RSA asserts.

Now I offer the evolution of People-Centered Economics from an ethical case for making people a priority over imagined numbers.

I was asked for a Social Report recently for the RBS SE 100 index and here it is.

I've been advocating a social exchange for many years, so it's just as much our vision. The difference perhaps is that we left the academic reasoning behind to go out and do it. 

Believe me, social enterprise hasn't yet become that social.

 

Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Gavin, I'm told that the malware warnings on the en.for.ua sire are false reports. The full paper is on our website anyway and in web archives since 2007.
The paper called for a 1.5 billion USD investment over 5 years partly supported by the MCA, a US government fund supporting emerging democracy and from Ukraine's government from proceeds of the re-privatisation of a major steel mill which cost Mittal 4.8 bn.
We've operared  the profit for purpose model here in the UK for 7 years, a software business investing profit in leveraging change. 

 

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