Our partnership was pleased to make a contribution to a research project recently, which sought to define what and how Social Innovation practices improve the social innovation culture of UK Social Enterprises.
The core assumptive definition of Social Innovation for the project was that of ”...a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals”. (Source: Phills et al., 2008, p. 36)
Some of the key findings of interest to us clearly reflected our experience of SocEnt development and community business/community development processes in the past.
Community is the source of the innovative process…
Design thinking stimulates the search for solutions through experimentation and quick action, is iterative, is based on collaborative work and facilitate the involvement of users (beneficiaries), who are the centre of the innovative process.
The agile method facilitates the communication and integration between several actors involved in the innovation process by dividing the project into stages.
Using the knowledge, competency, partners and relationships that already exist in the SE is a viable option to encourage innovative activities.
(This latter implication is in fact the basis of our project delivery at SocEntEastMids – we share the knowledge and expertise for free at the point of engagement…Ed.)
Alignment between employees’ personal interest / belief and social enterprise mission and dual role of client and employee are a powerful booster for intra-preneurship.
(For us, again, culture and mission are irrevocably intertwined…Ed).
Finally, we were both delighted and surprised to see the modest size of the innovatory organisations included and the durability of their projects. Fourteen years of age was the average.
We understand the research team are still open to engagement from the UK SocEnt sector regarding the process of social innovation. (See contact details in the report above.)
Long, may the innovation last!
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Originally framed for corporate tech entrepreneurs, don’t be put off. The concepts can also hold good for social enterprises thinking of pivoting all or part of their business to reflect new circumstances. New community businesses responding to the request ‘…come and tell us about your project/business idea‘ will find the simple brevity useful, we would argue. Particularly if you are having a ‘where do we start’ moment!
This is a film about the art of the presentation. It can help you to acquire the skill in assembling your knowledge, the making of a telling argument to convince your audience about your community project, your funding renewal or your pending impact investment, amongst many possible goals.
Delivered last year (2019) by the late Professor Patrick Winston at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology(MIT), it is ostensibly for would be academic scientists. But there is much to discover about your own existing skill set, your preconceived ideas about your audience and it also delivers challenging ways to maximise your effectiveness.
We watched it in the office, as part of an exercise to think about refreshing the ways we use to pitch, for a new project we have coming up.
We winced as we realised we had delivered ‘death by PowerPoint’ sessions in the past, and some of us had allowed our purple prose to even cross the whiteboard, cross the meeting room and exit out into the car park.
Professor Winston was sharing a life time of thought. We think everyone will find something in it…
This filmed lecture, from the University of Chicago by Larry McEnerney, is about writing for the real world. It is delivered in accessible language and the key ideas have real relevance for writing in the Social Enterprise/Social Impact sector.
For McEnerney ‘writing in the real world’ can involve the use of jargon, being able to identify your readers, clarity of purpose and the use of the written word ‘to change the world’. He also has some interesting takes on the process of being paid to write.
Practical examples of the techniques and the understanding of your text start at around the 20 minute mark.
Speak well, write well, pitch well – improve the reach of your project, your idea or your community ambitions.
Source: First publ. 2015, as part of the UChicago Social Sciences Leadership Lab programme
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In our last post we reflected on time passed and have turned our attention to the future, thinking about organisational development in our social business for 2020.
We read a post on Medium recently, from an executive guru which decried, as a management technique, the announcing of your plans…lest you stumble and they all come to nought. (All business is risk, even a ‘social’ one!…Ed)
We have thought about this too, and have come to the decision, given the ubiquity of the internet and new media, that laying out plans, even those not fully ready for complex delivery yet, is a sound way to make contact with like-minded community actors and organisations. Our own motives and action plan are below…
We have attended this year ((2019) a number of events organised by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), in both Liverpool and London. Designed to create awareness of, and engagement with, the Community Wealth Building (CWB) agenda. In this aim Neil McInroy and his highly skilled team, have been highly effective.
This engagement has started us thinking about how CWB can be energised to reach the micro and small community facing social businesses or organisations across our region.
It is clear from the recently published documents below, that this community mercantile sector is clearly woven into the multivariate practice, target segments and policy focus of the CWB change matrix.
Key Documents for Strategic Development
CLES have recently published both Community Wealth Building 2019 – theory practice and next steps, as well as a Manifesto for Local Economies. you can view, print or download both these key documents below…
Community Wealth Building 2019is a profoundly important document in contextualising local action, policy change and in illuminating the tried and tested, as well as emerging methodologies of change in CWB practice.
Whilst recognising that the new (CLES) Centre for Excellence, funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, has a primary focus on Local Authority/governmental policy issues for securing the largest change and development ‘hit’ possible, we think that the same concepts of CWB and the intellectual change mechanisms involved can equally be applied to the small marginalised communities and, importantly, rural England.
The Manifesto for Local Economies contains the building blocks of an exciting new CWB landscape. We do not see any of its elements as revolutionary, but rather see the policy and delivery skein exposed in the document as a progressive, moral and inclusive agenda for the individual, the company/charity, the region and government to embrace.
What The Manifesto calls for is an inclusive, fair and ownership diverting programme of change. It does not decry or deny capital, the market or the organisation – it refocuses them to broad community benefit.
We subscribe to the vision.
The action plan – the micro-contribution
To maintain and continue to consolidate activity with our clients for SocEntEastMids in the six counties region of its published focus – free delivery of support, advice and resources for the creation of socially useful enterprise.
A new brand and energy for change
To create a new brand/web site of focus and delivery mechanism, based in Cambridge UK, to engage with rural communities in England around some key elements of the CWB agenda.
To scope and deliver this rural enterprise support across The Midlands, East Anglia, Lincolnshire etc., where rural enterprise is, arguably, remote from the national policy debate and one to one encouragement is thinly spread.
To develop a programme of work, addressing community facing organisations – developing focused CWB agenda items to the unique, particular and social landscapes of our chosen geography.
To develop a cost recovery mechanism for external speakers and critical advice, event attendance etc., whilst still delivering our core elements of free advice, web and communication services – with any surplus created directed to support our sister delivery at SocEntEastMids, as is normal for our Partnership. To help maintain the sustainability of the programme.
To focus our Muntjac energy initially on a Enterprise Change Hub, development of Community Banking networks, and Employee Ownership advice and change support. This latter may well spill over into help in creating partnerships, employee owned businesses, co-operatives, measuring impacts for baseline and business plans etc.
To make Cambridge a ‘go to’ place for CWB in the rural environment. (We have large car parks…Ed).
The Muntjac is a persistent, pervasive and spiky creature in the rural environment. We like them.
Our strategy and delivery for the CWB programme, although modest, will hopefully develop the same profile.
If you would like to be part of a new CWB initiative in the rural East, do use our site contact facilities and have an opening conversation with Tim.
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‘We are such spendthrifts with our lives, the trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.’ ― Paul Newman : Actor
Sustainability, going green, recycling, food waste, ethical business, community, evironmentally friendly, food labelling, consumer responsibility – Google any keyword from the above and acres of electronic landscape will open up on your screen and tantalise you with calls for their individual priority.
But to make the world sustainable, right down to the house on the corner, or the single desk at your child’s school, we need a new narrative. One that is, effectively, a moderated form of capitalism…Social Enterprise is it.
Attempting to break completely the bio-rhythms of a capitalist system, arguably embedded in this country from 1750 and the start of the Industrial Revolution, is a very hard thing. To moderate behaviour, or flex direction of travel, is much easier.
If Social Enterprise is the deployment of business enterprise, not for gross personal profit, but to serve up a solution to a community need, then Social Procurement should be the keyword search to trump all others.
“Our entire system, in an economic sense, is based on restriction. Scarcity and inefficiency are the movers of money; the more there is of any resource the less you can charge for it. The more problems there are, the more opportunities there are to make money.
This reality is a social disease, for people can actually gain off the misery of others and the destruction of the environment. Efficiency, abundance and sustainability are enemies of our economic structure, for they are inverse to the mechanics required to perpetuate consumption.’ – Peter Joseph
‘Simply put, social procurement means buying regular goods and services directly or indirectly from social enterprises’.
In her article, Rebecca is rightly keen to focus on the high value SocEnt’s place on innovation and risk depletion. At the heart of a SocEnt lies not only care for community, not personal profit, but for also maximising community benefit .
This is the tipping point in the established supply chain, that can flex traditional corporate procurement policy and action to favour the SocEnt supplier.
In doing so, the vast corporate spend on Corporate Responsibility and Risk Mitigation can be resolved to a SocEnt procurement locus that presents the rationalisation and delivery of an agenda which guarantees ethical supply and community safety at a stroke.
As Dray would have it ‘…By nature of their social and environmental mission they also reduce environmental impact, avoid modern slavery, tackle water scarcity and so much more‘.
We can now, perhaps, slightly shade the Dray definition for Social Enterprise to read…
A social enterprise is a legal and social entity of moderated capitalism, that seeks through Social Procurement, to temper and dissolve the social ills of profit pursuit for damaging personal gain.
Not so fluid, perhaps, but effective none the less, we would argue.
The embrace of a telling argument and practical philosophy, Social Enterprise, must however be matched by the equally telling embrace of traditional business. To moderate or flex, as a goal, will always be more effective that outright revolution.
We also need to convince the non-SocEnt market of the need to join forces with our new movement.
Pat Villaceran, in a recent article on LinkedIn, entitled ‘5 Reasons Business Executives Stray Away From Social Movements‘, nicely frames the arguments corporate procurement specialists use to deflect social procurement innovation. Arguing, in the article, that the unwritten message from corporate institutions is that social entrepreneurship is somehow a less effective, minority and part-time project.
The Villaceran thesis debunks these arguments and presents evidence, very useful if you are pitching to a procurement team, just why the SocEnt supply decision is the right one. We recommend it to our readers.
Anna Birley and The Co-operative Party have produced a really useful guide to what Community Wealth Building is, in terms of definition, ideas for local action and how to campaign for effective local policy change.
‘The Summit is for anyone who wants to build an economy that works for all. Over the last ten years, Community Wealth Building ideas have been taken up and applied by an ever-growing number of socially minded businesses and social and public sector organisations across the regions and countries of the UK.
This event will bring together people from across these sectors and places, from local authorities and credit unions to community owned football clubs and hospitals’.
We will be there? Will you? Make a long weekend of it and support the local economy in the North West too!
The SocEntEastMids team:
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Hatch, a South London charity, design their peer accelerator programme to ‘…facilitate learning experiences with successful social entrepreneurs (those who have come before), where they can share their wisdom, knowledge and network with those who need it next‘.
Designed for existing social enterprises, keen to grow, with a small number of staff, but who are aiming to seek social investment or crowdfunding resources in the next year or two.
Their programme of support centres around the following thematic deliveries…
Peer-to-peer learning environment
Pro-bono legal consulting
Here at SocEntEastMids we specialise in pro-bono support to the micro-enterprise or the nascent, yet to be connected, social entrepreneur.
However, we recognise that the Hatch Accelerator model offers professional and profound structural advancement for social entrepreneurs and social enterprises who are approaching critical mass.
‘TV architect and Big Issue cover star George Clarke’s petition, aimed at persuading the government to build 100,000 council houses a year, wins massive approval on its first day…’ Source: Big Issue
Working in communities, for us, involves delivering free support and resources to the nascent individual social entrepreneur or the community group, incorporated or not, involved in the transition to an active community focused business.
The nature of developing community business, or individual entrepreneurship, often involves a wider dialogue about social policy and the quality of life for residents in the broadest terms. Housing is often part of that narrative.
SocEntEast Mids does not offer advice on matters concerning investment, banking or legality. We freely collaborate with community players to share our decades of aggregate experience in community development and enterprise engagement.
That said, as the conversation in the meeting room, or community centre eddies and swirls towards a conclusion, it is useful to be able to tender some broad signposting around themes of concern, as part of that engagement process.
The narratives, data and contacts below, all freely available in the public domain, are an attempt to provide such a signpost.
A really useful place to start is the Power to Change: Business in Community Hands pages. here you can find grants that ‘…support projects that build of refurbish affordable homes’.
Homes in Community Hands ‘…are focusing on community groups in the early stages of their community-led housing development to support feasibility and predevelopment work, leading up to submitting a planning application. Our research has shown that is where funds are needed most to get projects moving’.
Community-led housing schemes empower people, enrich local communities and improve the lives of residents. They can breathe new life into a village by offering affordable homes below market rate to families that are priced out of the area they live and work in.
The authors argue that CLT’s are a currently under deployed tool for community social enrichment, but non the less, this paper highlights the context of the mechanism and is, in our opinion, particularly honest and useful in making an assessment of obstacles and pinch points in any community housing scheme.
CAF and Power to Change also have a useful web article on a new source of funding available – Blended Finance Available for CLT’s. Authored by Anne-Helene Sinha, it is a new and pioneering offer in the marketplace.
Johnson’s argument is, essentially, that investors with a conscience can all help to alleviate the current housing crisis by investing in the sector. He is also strong on the weakness and re-directions of central government in the housing mix over time…
…blame can be laid at the door of government. In 2009 (the last full year of Gordon Brown’s administration), Whitehall provided £11.4bn towards the cost of building homes. By 2015 (under David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition), this had over halved to £5.3bn. More pertinently, perhaps, in terms of GDP, the fall is even more dramatic – it has dropped from 0.7 per cent to 0.2 per cent.
A depressing tale, well told with numbers to underscore the disparity of supply versus demand.
More useful links for data and context:
The Plan to End Homelessness, by Crisis, is also another salutory lesson in how housing and welfare policies have failed to work effectively, either with each other, or with the homeless to create sustainable and affordable solutions to the present crisis.
SocEntEastMids does not offer banking, finance or legal advice. Our free resources and support is dedicated to sharing our decades of community enterprise experience collaboratively with the nascent social entrepreneur or ethical business minded community group.
We are happy to have a ‘social enterprise’ conversation at any time, and to donate free resources, to foster the aims of the sector.
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A series of free events at your local Business & IP Centre, from the British Library and local authorities.
Not overtly dedicated to the Social Marketplace, but a day of free engagement, idea exploration and support-signposting from a variety of key players in the enterprise and tech market encouragement sectors.
DATE AND TIME: Thu 20 September 2018 09:00 – 16:30 BST
The nominations list for the 2018 UK Social Enterprise Awards have just been published.
What a cavalcade of fantastic projects, across many impact themes, and a wide geographical spread. The list itself is evidence alone of a thriving, multi-dimensional social enterprise topography in the UK.
Social Enterprise East MIdlands is a UK registered Limited Company Company No: 10862936 Our mission is to foster grass-roots interest in the Social Economy - supporting community enterprise development in our six counties region.
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