It is a movement for advocacy, promoting financial sectoral change to key actors.
They also work to effect ‘change from within’, campaigning for the re-alignment of finance professions to a more equitable and fair model.
The Lab web site has an inciteful article, written by Angela Clements, founder of Fair For You. It shows the journey that a finance sector principal can be driven to follow, when the inequity of access to mainstream credit, for example, makes even more difficult the life of an economically disenfranchised family.
Now entering its second year, the awards highlight the innovation and dedication of world leading social investors and enterprises, celebrating both the achievements of teams and individuals alike.
The awards are supported by NatWest. In 1999 the bank set up its own charity, Social & Community Capital, to help fund social enterprises and community lenders that cannot access mainstream finance and to help them on their path to the financial mainstream.
The awards have six categories that applicants can enter, free of charge, by nominating their own businesses or social enterprises.
Institutional Social Investment Award Institutional investment deal or product that has created demonstrable social impact at scale. New Social Investors Award Investment deal or product that has attracted new savers and investors into the social investment market. Social Entrepreneurs Investment Award Investment deal into an early stage social organisation to create demonstrable social impact. International Social Investment Award International investor who has invested through the UK market to create social impact anywhere in the world. Market Building Award Organisation that has demonstrated innovative and diverse ways to grow the social investment market in the UK. Public Service Transformation Award Social investment deal that has delivered improved public services.
Categories 1-3 and 5-6 are open to nominations from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Category 4 is open to individuals or organisations based anywhere in the world.
The awards close to applications on 18 March 2016. Short-listed nominees will be notified on 1 April 2016 and the awards ceremony will be held in London on 3 May 2016.
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?
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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.
The EU made two major announcements this week, about programmes across Europe. Designed to sustain SME’s, who lack the collateral to enjoy secured lending. The announcements represent a new cohort of funds to broaden the business base of the small business sector.
The European Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) will deliver a new 100 million Euro fund. The Fund will be to bring new ideas to market. The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) Fund will be available in 2015 and 2016.
Consortia of three to five members will be free to bid for the funds at any time. ‘EU officials expect grants to be between €1m and €2m’.
The executive also signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund. The Commission said ‘…this would open up €25 billion of potential finance for SMEs over the next seven years’.
The EIF provides risk finance to SME’s across Europe. It will give €1.3billion for SME financing, under the EU Competitiveness of Enterprises Programme.
The EIF will give that money to financial intermediaries such as banks or funds, who will in turn make it available to SMEs.
The EIF will appoint the intermediaries. There will be a call for expressions of interest and a due diligence process.
The Commission estimates that up to 330,000 SMEs will receive loans backed by the guarantees. Total lending will hit €21 billion. An average guaranteed loan will be €65,000 per firm.
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