As part of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences – the Institute of Network Cultures have recently published another document in their innovative and ground breaking research and thought leadership programme.
The MoneyLab Reader – An intervention in Digital Economy, edited by Geert Lovink, Nathaniel Tkacz and Patricia de Vries, contains much that mainstream financiers may find provocative, but which takes positions which offer interesting new insights into the emerging digital economy.
This published work contains sections on new digital-economic forms, some subtle essays on how value can be driven and extracted from an open source, ‘Commons‘ based economy, as well as essays on Bitcoin and other complimentary currencies.
There is a strong section on the ‘Economies of the Imagination‘. This is mindful of one of the driving forces of the digital economy, which is the creation of art and artistic output through new mediums of distribution and payment.
Readers in the creative quarters across our region may find this section particularly energising.
‘MoneyLab, a network of artists, activists and researchers, founded in 2013 by the Amsterdam-based Institute of Network Cultures; its aim is to research, discuss, and experiment with (alternative) internet-related revenue models in the arts and beyond’.
In a powerful essay, The Long Game by Keith Hart, there is a telling argument that Georg Simmel’s prophesy of the withering of the physical substance of money and the emergence of revolutionary new social institutions supporting new, fiscally adroit communities of interest may already be upon us. (The Philosophy of Money: 1907).
Whilst this may not be new to mainstream bankers, the shift in fiscal power from lender to borrower, which this implies, will be a difficult concept for many.
However, in the newly emergent social finance sector we can see that new paradigms of fiscal effectiveness, lending tolerance and social outcome entwined in community values, are all currently abroad.
We commend this lengthy pamphlet to our readers…perhaps we are all living in a ‘Simmelcast’ world now?
”Social Enterprise East Midlands (SEEM) has handed over the baton for support to Social and Community Enterprises in the East Midlands to The Key Fund from the 1st August 2015.
The Key Fund, which already has a strong local presence, is the UK’s most prolific investor in the social enterprise sector. It is incorporating the work of the organisation into its day-to-day operations, safeguarding the services for the future.
Nottingham-based SEEM, which was formed in 2002, provided services across the East Midlands to support the creation and development of social businesses and social enterprises to become sustainable and deliver significant and enduring social impact. It also enabled access to Social Investment and offers Investment Readiness Support to charities, community businesses, social enterprises and social businesses.
Dave Brazier, Chair of SEEM, said: “Obviously, we are a bit sad to see the closure of SEEM as an independent organisation. However, we are absolutely delighted that the great work done by SEEM is to be continued by the Key Fund. In particular, the provision of Social Investment for business with a social purpose will be continuing, and indeed expanding in the future.”
SEEM shared similar values with Key Fund as a not-for-profit social enterprise that believes it’s possible for businesses to function in a transparent, ethical and socially responsible way. Both organisations support enterprise that not only delivers the products and services that people want to buy, but provides the means to have a positive impact in the community in which they operate.
Key Fund was launched in Sheffield 1999 to stimulate local economies in Yorkshire and the Humber after the decline of the coal, steel and other major industries. Its smallest funding package is £3,500 and the largest so far has been £300,000. The Sheffield-based Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) has invested over £39m in almost a thousand businesses which stimulate local economies and place equal importance on social impact as well as profit.
Matt Smith, Key Fund’s Deputy CEO, said: “We are excited about building on the fantastic legacy built in the East Midlands by Roger Moors and the team at SEEM. We see real opportunities to grow the sector in the area and will be developing new programmes in the future.”
Nottingham’s Miles Waghorn has emerged the triumphant winner of the SEEM ‘New Business Idea’ Award at the inaugural Venturefest East Midlands with his innovative TechSilver – find them on Facebook here… e-commerce store.
Over 1000 delegates gathered at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham for Venturefest. A mix of entrepreneurs, business owners, academics, business services and representatives of large multinationals joined together to grow the East Midlands’ innovation eco-system.
Miles, a 22 year old social entrepreneur, secured the coveted SEEM award for his business idea that provides solutions for seniors. TechSilver, a ‘technology store for the later lifestyle’, provides innovative products and supportive services, designed, created or adapted for senior users ensuring they make the most of their purchases.
Roger Moors, CEO of SEEM said he was delighted that Miles had won the award adding that many senior members of society would now benefit from this support and be able to access technology that they may feel is a little intimidating at times.
Pictured, Miles receiving the SEEM Award from special guest, Simon Woodroffe OBE founder of ‘Yo’ Sushi’…
‘The Social Business Dragons’ Den is part of the Building Enterprise project managed by Community Partnerships at the University of Nottingham and led by Roger Moors, CEO of SEEM and Jeanne Booth, Chair of the East Midlands Fellowship of the RSA’.
Want to pitch to the Dragons?
Have you got an idea for a social business to pitch to the Dragons? Here’s the rules:
You must be living in the city of Nottingham to pitch.
Pitch Perfect Event – 11th May 2015, 6.00pm to 9.00pm
Nottingham Writer’s Studio 25 Hockley NG1 1FP Nottingham
This workshop will take you through the steps for preparing your pitch and equip you to present your ideas to different audiences. It will be invaluable for anyone who wants to practice their pitch and improve their chances of winning a prize at the Social Business ‘Dragon’s Den’ on 14th May.
If you are a UK based social enterprise, and bursting with good ideas, then this year’s Ignite Challenge could be just for you.
Do you have ideas that can be deployed, to enable the imaginative and efficient use of energy resources, which will contingently change people’s lives…then the Ignite Challenge 2015 is a ‘must look at’ for you?
‘We are looking for the brightest business ideas that use energy to make a difference in people’s lives’.
You can secure, if successful, between 50,000 Pounds to 2 million Pounds in order to make your idea a reality. The finalists will be asked to pitch their idea to a panel of energy industry and social enterprise experts during June 2015.
There are a number of interesting articles and discussion available on the financial and technology news boards at the moment. FinTech is something of a buzz word, being synonymous with innovation in banking technology. There is, however, a wider discourse at large. Can the major banks innovate generally?
UX Magazine recently published a detailed article, by Alexander Rauser, a tech specialist based in Dubai. Alexander argues that banks are currently responding to new advances in banking technology, perhaps rather slowly, and are now beginning to take a view of market changes and new start-ups in the finance sector.
We would argue that the the emergence of the Social Business sector, impact investing and the ideas behind Social Finance, are all part of this press of new ideas into a very traditional market place.
The Rauser thesis holds that major banks have recently made significant change in some areas…
“They have designed online banking processes that improve how banks can interact with their customers, how they can resolve problems, how they can provide information and largely improve the banking experience.
Back office systems have enabled banks to outsource administrative and customer service roles.
The chip and pin and contactless payment systems have revolutionised payment processes—cash is likely to soon be redundant”.
All well and good, but to survive, Rauser argues, the major names we know need to achieve significantly more, namely…
“Growth in revenue and profits.
Bridging gaps in products, services, and processes designed by the bank.
Saving operational costs.
Offering convenience to the customer and supporting customer retention.
Enabling staff with tools that help solve customer problems”.
Recent European on-line banking services have, like the list above, responded to the customer satisfaction challenge in new ways. Not ony by being available on-line, but integrating e-commerce functionality directly into their account provision to satisfy the non-technical solution demands of their customers.
Rauser goes on to discuss nine other key areas that banks can affect or implement in their relationship with customers to better deploy technology, trust and bank/client interaction.
Amongst these are some ideas that must cause traditional bankers of the old school some palpitations. These include extending reward programmes to include more direct ‘gamification’, thereby enhancing what the banks may discover about your lifestyle and spending choices.
The development of ‘social banking’, allowing customers to spend and interact with their bank on new media channels. Rauser cites the Commercial Bank of Dubai, which now has a Facebook app, allowing customers to interact and commit transactions on mobile or desktop ecosystems.
Another move, cited in the Rauser article is the wider introduction of the ‘concierge’ in personal banking. Long a feature for very wealthy clients, some banks are now extending this sort of service to ‘regular’ current account holders.
What all of the initiatives mentioned above seem to be about is communication.
Is this not a return to the town/regional banking interfaces of a previous century? A bank talking, empathetically, with confidence and professionalism to its client base. Where the customer has rising loyalty to his or her bank and approaches banking innovation with real confidence. Assured that the bank actually populates the same world as the client.
We would argue that, despite the new innovations in Social Finance and Social Business we would obviously champion, the approach of key players in the Social Finance market place is very much based upon and conditioned by, these ‘old is new’ interactions.
The opportunity to embrace social outcome as a key business aim, by complex organisations of any size, needs a banker who listens, is available and who understands both the metrics of the business and the philosophy of the declared social aim.
There is a new course, just released on Future Learn, which teaches you the basics of business innovation in any environment. Future Learn offers free courses on-line, many of which can add certificated outcomes to your professional development learning.
The Social Business sector is all about innovation, in financing, in management and in operational delivery – all with strong social value and outcome in mind.
As well as giving you a chance to meet and network with businesses already active in this emerging sector, The Hub can be instrumental in helping you to formulate your new social business idea, or to pivot an existing business strand into delivery on social terms.
The Hub will contain a variety of Social Business practitioners to share ideas with and seek support from, if required, including…
The new board to facilitate the growth and development of Elvaston Castle is now being recruited. Derbyshire County Council, in partnership with the National Trust and the local community, are the lead body for the development process…
‘…we’ve recently appointed a Chair of an advisory ‘Development Board’ for Elvaston Castle, and are now looking to recruit other Board members who can bring a range of expertise to bear including business planning and finance, fundraising, built and cultural heritage, and partnership working.
The Development Board will work in partnership with Derbyshire County Council and others to champion the formation of the new managing body for the Estate that will ultimately take on responsibility for the Estate and make the Vision a reality. Future Elvaston 10 Year Vision Plan.‘
The historic gardens and buildings of the estate, situated between Derby and Nottingham, are in need of investment, sound strategic management of a new future, all combined with a sensitivity and acknowledgement to the work of preservation and community engagement that has gone before.
The lounge of Antenna, in Nottingham, was buzzing last night (24th February) with talk about business for good and how change in traditional structures and processes can create models of delivery that are good for business.
The event was part of the ongoing programme of engagement with post-grad students at Nottingham University for the Social Business Programme, which seeks to offer opportunities and ideas for the current post-graduate cohort of the University to start a business for good, a Building Enterprise activity.
The evening was chaired and facilitated by Jeanne Booth, who was able to introduce a panel of speakers for the audience, who were both inspirational and able to deliver pertinent short messages about their experiential learning in the development and awareness of Social Business. Some of the ideas abroad on the night are tendered below…
Corporate social responsibility is dead, long live Social Business! This could have been the rallying cry for the audience from Paul’s presentation. The old ways are perhaps no longer fit for purpose, we were told. With CSR as a concept, arguably, seen as a reactive and backward looking process.
Much was made of nature and things natural as metaphors for new business development under the banner of Social Business. We have destroyed 50% of the rain-forest so far. Paul surprised the audience with the metaphoric concept of bio-mimicry as perhaps providing the new, forward looking business model.
However, the speaker argued, not all in the past is of no use. The Guilds were, from early modern history, craft makers and carers for community. Fostering skills and market development, from their geographical locus, yet preserving the best of tradition.
It is this, the fostering of ideas, like the emergent Social Business movement, that is the only truly scaleable resource we have. ‘A dialogue between two people with ideas results in a more dynamic third idea‘. Wonderful stuff!
This section of the evening had the style of a structured interview and response between Toni and Jeanne. Toni, in her development of the Nottingham Circle, a membership group for the over-50’s, had clearly done much to encourage the recording and shaping of data and soft outcome records for her organisation.
In any new or developing business, this collection of data is redundant in itself. It is how the people in the organisation deploy the knowledge locked up in the data, or in people’s stories over time.
Relationships, shared goals, resourcefulness and generosity. These were some of the keywords Jeanne was able to elicit from the speaker. They are the perfect framing paradigm for a good Social Business too. These and a great spreadsheet, which you can deploy for funders, partners and beneficiaries too.
How do you finance good business was Roger’s key question to the audience at Antenna? Illustrating the tensions between the Third Sector and traditional business, Roger opined that it was seen as the sector’s traditional role, over business, to deliver social outputs.
This has changed. Using another natural metaphor the audience were asked to declare if they ate vegetables? Then they were asked if they were vegetarians? There was a large disparity in the aggregate numbers of the replies.
Thus, Roger argued, ‘…Social Business is not about legal structure, it is about how you do it’. All businesses need capital, to finance cash-flow, purchase of assets or to develop their business idea. Social investment is, therefore, about investing for impact.
There are, therefore, three key elements to getting an offer of social investment. An economically sustainable idea. A collection of ‘investable’ people. Impact.
To see if you qualify, contact Roger at SEEM. He’s the capital chap!
Martin works with people in organisations to ‘...identify, articulate and present the truth of their product or service’. Echoing the message that traditional business methodologies were undergoing change, Martin stresses the search for ‘truth’ in presentation, marketing and delivery as now being the key social business driver.
There is a new commercial imperative. It is the power of the story, not about a thing in itself. As founders of new social businesses the message about your motives, your values and the journey you have undertaken to get here are now powerful drivers of client or customer engagement.
This was a telling section of the evening. Stressing the emotional and empathetic engagement inherent in social business. ‘People no longer buy the ‘what’, they are interested in the ‘why’.
Nicky’s story is one of developing her Social Business through reaction to familial allergies and intolerances. Driven to engage with school catering staff, Nicky was able to grapple initially with the ‘different school lunch’ issue, helping to foster a more tolerant attitude to difference, certainly, but also restoring a sense of balance and good health to her own family members.
From this ‘community action’ approach, Food Freedom has gone on to foster and deliver a range of training courses and awareness raising expertise for a variety of clients – schools, companies and community settings.
A very telling and key part of the Food Freedom presentation was the characteristics needed to found, grow and stabilise a new Social Business. Nicky had three important messages for the Antenna audience…
Really want to make a difference – care about it above profit…
Draw exhilaration and energy from the feedback and measured impact you can obtain along the way…
Make sure you gather that evidence formally and then deploy it wisely.
The evening concluded, after a short break, with a full Q & A session with the expert panel. The Chair was able to guide the audience through questions and responses, from theory and practice, to help them conceptualise, form or grow their Social Business idea.
This was a well organised, useful and informative session. It is part of a wider programme of creating enterprise events. If you have an idea as post-grad, then this is the place to go for answers, advice and, perhaps, even funding…see more here.