In the sixties the economist J.K. Galbraith came to see suburbs as a sort of camp, or island, for the affluent. There is something of this perception in the BroadwayMalyan analysis.
‘However, existing villages do have their drawbacks. Villages are the most expensive places to live in the UK outside London…’
The report attempts to map existing constraints on village life, and overlay new opportunities, or issues, that might be grasped. For example…
• Rural villages, as bases of multi-faceted active economic output, have diminished capacity historically.
• UK villages tend to have an older, affluent demographic and this affects the utility of local village schools, for instance.
• As costs rise, and services need to adapt to new consumer demand, the village needs to be flexible and opportunist to take advantage of new markets. Many are not able without creative development thinking.
• The internet plays a key role in community and economic development, particularly post-Covid. The slow spread and lack of investment in high speed broadband hampers village development economically.
• Low density of population mitigates away from the delivery of core direct health and well- being support. Another factor hampered by the reach of the internet, as above.
• With older age cohorts in villages, the use of the car is a necessity to many, which contributes to poor distribution of joined up community transport and environmental harm, for example.
This document, The Reimagined Village from BroadwayMalyan, offers a number of new perceptions and objectives for a creative and effective socio-economic housing cluster – the UK village. Their view ahead is not all pessimistic…
‘If new villages are to become an effective antidote to
the housing crisis, they need to be reimagined to better accommodate the needs of modern society – both now and into the future – all while retaining the identity and charm that makes them an attractive prospect, and an integral part of Britain’s cultural fabric.’
Within the pages of the report lies an acknowledgement of difference and a recognition that each community, wherever it lies in the rural landscape, has a unique and particular tradition, and perhaps, a different view on the thorny political questions of economic development and new infrastructure.
We subscribe to the Strong Towns Movement news-feed in the USA – they are currently publishing a set of articles on strategies and structures necessary for community development in the widest sense.
It is interesting, we think, how in the final analysis from the U.S./capitalist point of view, that public funding should be seen as the key catalyst for sustainable development in communities, of whatever size.
The organisation, UN Women, has just published a new report arguing for economic development in a new era, the purpose of which is to ‘…support the survival and flourishing of life, in all its forms’.
The quotation above comes from a web article by Jayati Ghosh, on the web pages of Social Europe, in which Ghosh argues that the world economy needs to rotate 180 degrees and become focused away from the notion of market forces. Forces which can bring riches or disaster according to some unseen lottery of life.
If we live in an economic and deterministic world all we need, Ghosh argues, is the will to restructure institutional forms into better, more humane and democratic models.
The chapters in the report are challenging and an informative read, providing not only argument, but examples of how economic change can be restructured in the post-Covid landscape.
The report is not, in itself, a social enterprise driven map for the future.
Rather, we would argue, that social business and community enterprise can play their full part in re-modelling of local and national economic agendas, in the feminist mirror the UN paper holds up to us all.
Post-Covid, the illustrations and challenges of the report are already the common currency of ideas in the re-build agenda. Ideas and directions of travel that will already be familiar to the SocEnt community.
Economics that support the livelihoods of women.
Putting Care, note the capital C, at the heart of economic and community change.
Making the instruments of finance and economics gender-just.
Creating a new feminist global politics for the post-Covid era.
”Humentum is the leading global nonprofit working with humanitarian and development organisations to improve how they operate and to make the sector more equitable, accountable, and resilient. Funders for Real Cost, Real Change (FRC), a collaborative of private foundations, commissioned this research and report to gather evidence on the extent to which international donor funding covers the real administration costs of national NGOs…”
This provocative and challenging report, from the organisation Humentum, makes a strong case for a continued imbalance in the allocation of funding, the imposition of power structures and the seeming immutable nature of the funder and funded relationship.
Although focused on the international/NGO sector, some of the key research findings, and recommendations by Humentum, could equally apply to the most modest community projects at home. Are we understanding our own detailed cost needs as a project, are we asking our funder for the full cost recovery amount and is our funder advancing enough funding, which is unrestricted, to best flexibly serve both delivery and sustainability of our project/cause over time?
The Humentum report quests for a funding context, where funders need to realign their relationships, making them more equitable, and that all parties become more accountable inside that interactional relationship.
It argues cogently from the NGO voices heard that what is needed is…
• a stronger long-term partnership approach that directly addresses the challenge of the unequal power dynamic inherent in the funding relationship.
• longer-term funding agreements with a significant component of general operating support to enable NGOs to become more sustainable, including building up unrestricted reserves.
• better cost coverage of all the administration costs associated with projects, including items such as start-up and closure costs, with less reluctance to fund salary costs.
These deficits in relationships and sweep in grant making result, for Humentum, in the starvation cycle. Humentum argue that for grantees to break out of this constricting and distorting cycle, then funders need to apply a change of approach. Namely, to offer…
a) full cost coverage
b) means by which grantees can contribute to unrestricted reserves
c) support to strengthen grantees’ cost recovery capabilities.
There is to us, thinking again about the local project context, an irony in the application of a grant, which may result in great creative, expertise and community development lift for a local project, which at the same time, because of traditional funding methodologies, powers the deliverer of the grant aided umbrella project into an inability to work for sustainability, skills uplift and cost recovery management to ensure that ‘starvation’ does not occur.
In conclusion, the Humentum paper makes three key recommendations…
Funders should commit to consistently covering a full and fair share of all associated administration costs.
Funders should directly fund grantees to strengthen their financial management, cost recovery and fundraising capabilities, and provide unrestricted funding to build reserves.
Funders should systematically collect data on the extent of adequate cost coverage. This data should be used to drive internal accountability and motivate funders to provide their full and fair share of administration costs in restricted funding agreements.
Could the Humentum research transform the funding landscape, wherever the context? It’s a provocative paper…
The future, post-Covid and all the economic and social change that lies ahead, will need to bring with it a commitment to both training and re-skill for many, but also a distinct, hardy and tenacious set of practical and soft skills for the enduring entrepreneur.
This is the message contained in a useful and perceptive series of articles to come from Pioneers Post. It is a landscape of compassion, certainly, given the context of the work, but also a landscape of uncertainty that will be managed through endurance, creativity and a survival ethos.
List of skills updated: 6th June 2021 – see below…
A heady cocktail of needs for the social entrepreneur looking to the future.
‘Experts have warned that half the world’s employees will need to be reskilled by 2025. But with which skills? In our new series, Emerald Works’ Kevin Dunne and Social Enterprise Academy’s Claire Wilson set out seven critical, “no regrets” skills that social enterprise leaders will need to flourish in the post-Covid-19 landscape.’
The seven key skills, promoted by the authors of this thinking are sound and relevant – especially if you are on the brink of leading your new SocEnt project up the enterprise foothills to sustainability.
We were worried, diving into the article, that this was a promotional pivot for a hardened, corporatist lean-into enterprise for good. We should not have worried. Vigorous commitment to the seven principles espoused can, we see, develop individuals with strong technical skills.
Skills that allied with the compassion that got them into the sector in the first place, may well be the key to all our survival.
Poverty and economic and social exclusion can often be invisible in rural areas, we would argue. The trees are no less green, the landscape no less bucolic, if the individual residents or communities are economically and socially disenfranchised.
During 2020 and our following of the thrashing dragon’s tail that is Covid, the media is full of economic data, socio-economic opinion and, perhaps the newest media feature, the ubiquitous graph.
How many of us, we wonder, fully understand the context of the data we are being asked to support or accept. How many of our communities can use data to successfully mount the argument that their’s is the community that needs to be refreshed and supported too?
There is a new toolkit on the block in 2020.
The Institute of Economic Development (IED) and the Rural Services Network (RSN) have devised a new practitioner-focused toolkit which is intended as a guide for “anyone seeking to raise rural relevance in the economic agenda”.
This pivotal report looks at the current policy drivers and meta-trends governing the development of the rural economy.
There is a strong section on the collection and analysis of data to establish the needs and desired outcomes for a given community of interest.
Finally, the document looks at best practice in the rural environment, ranging across coping with ageing in communities, wealth creation and digital expansion, or the need for it.
There is nothing in the toolkit that will be radical for the dedicated, urban social entrepreneur. What the toolkit does is to translate ambitions into a rural context, helping the players in communities to shape and define their developmental argument.
The toolkit also offers, we think, very sound thinking in its data analysis sections on how deep to drill for data, how to manage and structure what you find and finally, what the output should look like.
All skills and limitations that any or all researched arguments for economic development can use. Be they rural or devoutly urbanist in approach.
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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‘The Government is supporting businesses and their employees through a package of measures during this period of unprecedented disruption. This website helps you find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on your business. The Government is doing its best to stand behind businesses and is asking businesses to do their best to stand behind their workers.
Although ostensibly for mainstream business development and entrepreneurship, there are still elements of the site which will have useful content for social business or community enterprise, we would argue.
Under the Finance tab are resources on business funding alternatives, dealing with payments and marketing.
The Leadership collection of resources has an interesting range of support links for women in business, both networking and geographically, women in rural business, for example.
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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