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.
£32k prize fund shared by top performing social businesses…
The NatWest SE100 Index has announced the winners of its 2015 awards. Five winners were chosen from 1120 social ventures listed on the NatWest SE100 Index in the UK. This year’s awards build a clear picture of a thriving social enterprise sector that is supporting economic growth in the UK and delivering positive social impact.
The 2015 winners demonstrate best business practice within the social sector, working to address some of the UK’s most acute social issues. This year’s winners are helping to get people from disadvantaged backgrounds back into work, sustaining the environment and revolutionising healthcare services for disabled children.
These inspiring organisations now share over £32,000 in prize money awarded today at Critical Mass, the event for social enterprise, in recognition of their work.
The EBP is a non-profit dedicated to developing the skills of young people through development and employment programmes. The EBP works to ensure its services provide young people with the opportunity to develop the skills that employers are looking for, striving to engage young people in work and society.
FRC Group runs three social businesses including furniture recycling and waste management projects. These produce financial profits and create a social dividend by giving people in poverty and unemployment the opportunity to change their lives.
Kelvin Valley Honey works to sustain Scotland’s honey bee populations whilst contributing to the regeneration of disadvantaged communities through financing and supporting the development of beekeeping, creating employment for people housebound through disability and long term illnesses.
Andiamo works to meet the gap in demand and capacity that currently exists and is growing in the field of orthotics, printing 3D fully customised orthotics children with disabilities and long-term conditions.
Five Lamps delivers an integrated range of inclusion services to transform the lives of individuals and their families from disadvantaged communities, by helping them to find work, start their own business, improve their finances and improve their aspirations.
Aduna is an African-inspired health & beauty brand and social business working to create demand for under-utilised natural products from small-scale producers in Africa to create sustainable income – starting with the nutrient-dense superfoods Baobab and Moringa.
Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director Business Banking, NatWest, who presented the Growth Champion Award, said: “I want to congratulate all this year’s winners, not just on their success in the awards, but on the profound social impact that they are having on our society. NatWest is proud to have supported the SE100 since the beginning and we are committed to unlocking and nurturing entrepreneurial talent through access to finance, markets and expertise.”
Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society who presented the Trailblazing Newcomer award said of the NatWest SE100: “Social enterprises occupy a crucial place in our society. These organisations help tackle social challenges while contributing to economic growth. The SE100 Index is an important benchmark for the sector and I would encourage all social enterprises to sign up so we can build a truly compassionate society.”
(If ever there was a great example of how diverse, dynamic and effective the social (enterprise) sector is in the UK, then look no further than these awards…Ed.)
This Saturday, 10th October 2015, is Social Saturday– spend your cash with a social enterprise and get some real ‘community multiplier effect‘ for your money!
‘In the UK alone, there are 70,000 social enterprises, contributing £18.5 billion to the UK economy and employing almost a million people. This exciting movement is growing fast all around the world and we’re seeing a boom in start-ups being launched that combine doing business with doing good’. Source: Social Enterprise UK
At the Key Fund, research that shows that this confusion persists about what social enterprise is. Although two thirds of us support the idea of social enterprise, only a fifth (21 per cent) knew what social enterprises were.
‘Simply, it’s about buying or using services from businesses that make a positive difference in our community or on the environment. Social enterprises reinvest their profits into furthering their social mission. They have to have good business models to be financially sustainable, so they don’t rely on grants or charity’. Source: The Key Fund
Key Fund is itself a social enterprise. Matt Smith of the Key Fund, quoted in a recent article in The Guardian, speaking about the misconceptions about Social Enterprise in the UK stated ‘…what’s interesting is this misconception that social enterprise relies on grants or donations. We escaped a culture reliant on grants many years ago, and the main impetus of social enterprise is to ignite local economies, create jobs, and be profitable or at least sustainable in delivering their ethical aim.”
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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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…
“…how emerging technologies in the digital economy can transform society by the mobilisation of collective action, enable a more collaborative economy, new ways of making, citizen participation, sustainability and social innovation”.
This European initiative, connected by philosophy and concept, itself overcomes distance by the use of new technology. Bringing together organisations and key players on the innovative transformation of society through their use of the internet.
This can be in the creation of projects which develop a more collaborative economy, devise new ways of making, delivering a more open and democratic society, as well as using technology to bring forward new funding streams, accelerator and enterprise incubator programmes.
This whole spectrum of activity sits well with our own social finance mission, based upon strong ethical considerations, which deliver social output as a key return of the business plan.
We think DSI will continue to grow through 2015. Nesta and its partner organisations are holding an event in Brussels on the 17th February, 2015 to enable players in this new sector to engage, discuss and make new connections.
If you wish to explore DSI further, ahead of the event, the DSI Partnership has a web site that is worth exploring. You can see who the 1500 or so partner organisations are and access news and information on funding and research. You can also download a set of free resources. See more here.
Their succinct definition, of what DSI is, is given below….
“Digital Social Innovation is a type of collaborative innovation in which innovators, users and communities co-create knowledge and solutions for a wide range of social needs exploiting the network effect of the Internet.”
If you are interested in the transformative power of financial innovation, social change and new technology economies of scale, we think this is a movement worth tracking in 2015. The city, region or national movements in our sector will all find something of interest here.
We may even see you in Brussels?
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The Pop-up Shop has been getting a lot of press recently.
Did it ever go away? Is a revision to enterprise philosophy under way? Asset management, both in the public and private sector is in flux. With revisionist thinking on collaboration and about public space utility and development?
We think there is this paradigm shift, which can energise the social finance market. It will temper developments in the public space. This affects political mission, private capital movements and community outcome.
We offer as evidence the three reports/ideas formulated by a diversity of organisations below. As crisp in their thinking as they are diverse. They are telling onlookers to change, at an opportune moment for our sector.
The Pop-Up Shop:
Reading mainstream articles about this newly energised movement, we enjoyed revisiting the web site of www.appearhere.co.uk . We see it as a metaphor for a new retailing in the UK.
We are a world away from the ’empty space’ temporary retail proposition of old.
Gone are bare spaces, filled with less than high quality merchandise on a seasonal pressure sale basis. In comes a range of artisan producers, innovatory publishers and craft manufacturers. All intent on capitalising on short term, premium retail spaces. It should stir the imagination?
The Appear Here concept achieves a number of aims for the burgeoning retailer. Firstly, you can use the site to scope spaces across the UK, and will be able to view more in the future. You can also see, upfront, the cost of occupying the space over your chosen period.
If you are a community enterprise just at the planning stage this is important. Not being retail property specialists, but with a passion for your community manufactury, then knowing what the costs are likely to be, with support of the Appear Here team, could be a deal clincher for your project.
We haven’t fully explored the booking conditions from the site yet, and cannot see other start-up costs like majority deposits that may be needed, but overall the presentation makes a telling offer for the 21st Century. Check out Appear Here today.
We also liked and applaud The Plunkett Fondation’s attempts to vivify the community shop. They have recently published a new report Community Shops 2014 – A Better Form of Business.
The Foundation’s main focus is on rural development. As with the initiative above, retailing and the opportunities it offers, are good in inner-city areas too.
These include the principles of stock management, employment, volunteering, managing cash-flow and more.
The mixture of skills and commitment adds human capital, not only to the shop, but also the community if done right.
What can be gleaned for the Plunkett report is how a local shop can be a driver for community cohesion, a broad, beneficial identity and, because it is community owned, a wider sense of community ownership of place is also generated. Who cannot be proud of the area the shop they own exists within?
Socially Productive Places:
Yesterday The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA), in collaboration with British Land, published a new report about an emergent model to add value to public spaces by utilising a new admixture of co-operation and skills shared amongst local authority planners, developers, community groups and politicians.
We were excited by the report, which contains recommendations for how private developers and public sector players can innovate and collaborate in new ways to get the maximum value from public spaces, whilst at the same time adding value to built assets.
At the heart of the report is a lack of fear about profitability. But with a sense of urgency and innovation about how the public domain renovates and rebuilds from now on.
The report tells us what should not done. As well as illustrating the new skills needed by key players in the development sector. It is a cogent and telling argument.
It’s a timely report and you can read a short review, and find links to the conference that inspired the research, on conversationsEAST, the East of England Fellowship journal supporting the work of the RSA.
The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), is a centre-left think tank. It recently published a paper called Mass Collaboration.
Within the context of this brief article, the IPPR piece binds together some of the ideas expressed above. Taking a meta-narrative view of policy and practice.
To see how to achieve change in the public arena. Moving to mass engagement within the socio-political structures that frame our society.
The paper, authored by Matthew Pike, a serial social entrepreneur. He has connections to Unltd, Big Society Capital and the Social Investment Business.
Matthew is the founder of www.resultsmark.org, a free reporting system for public services. Always worth checking out!
The Pike thesis for change, that will will channel mass collaboration, is based upon five key principles. We give them below.
“Invest in shared institutions that build social capital and engender supportive working relationships across sectors and hierarchies, such as teams of supporters around individuals, community anchor organisations, children’s centres, extended schools and more. Above all, invest in new ‘backbone organisations’ that can mobilise and organise whole-system change across localities.
Understand what help people need in order to help themselves and discover the existing strengths within people and communities, through an immersive programme of listening and learning.
Harness the new power of ‘big social data’ to turn public funding into a real-time process of action learning, understanding as much as possible about activities, outcomes and costs in an area to help design new systems that give people the help they need in a much smarter way.
Provide funding, investment and support to test, grow and scale up what works better in a local context and cut what isn’t needed or is less effective.
Work progressively to use new insight and evidence to help redesign the wider systems, rules and regulations that hamper local achievement”.
The five could apply to the social finance sector, and the players operating in it. Innovation, change, consultation, system and process review, engagement with communities of interest. All are all defining characteristics of the Social Finance sector.
The thematic glue to them, for us in the sector, is money. It’s accrual, its management and its dispensation. The Pikeian motif can layer upon the RSA paper, as well as across the innovatory approach of The Plunkett Foundation. In essence, we should talk to each other and ‘do things different’.
A heady time to be in the vanguard of a new movement?
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To the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham this morning, 17th July 2014, for a massive double espresso shot of Social Finance. Two hours of concise advice, proven experience and excitement for a sector under change.
Hosted by our own Roger Moors of SEEM, the assembled audience convened for coffee and muffins at 7.45am, more about the venue at the bottom of this article, all looking forward to a series of key speakers on expanding, developing and capitalising on our growing sector, courtesy of Big Society Capital.
Councillor Nick McDonald – Nottingham City Council:
Cllr. McDonald was delighted to announce to the gathered social finance bankers and intermediaries that the City now had a newNottingham Social Impact Fund. This new source of funding for the enterprising small business comprises a pot of £1 million pounds, which, argued Cllr. McDonald, coupled to a revised City Procurement Policy, would heavily lean the city towards a paradigm shift in its industrial base, as well as building on existing entrepreneurial energies in the city. A new fund is always welcome for the business sector, particularly at very good rates.
Geetha Rabindrakumar – Social Sector Lead, Big Society Capital:
Geetha began by offering the audience a classic definition of social investment, and underscored research that indicates, whilst societal problems will magnify and public sector funding will continue to diminish, it is the social sector, with its thirst for new forms of finance that will drive the sector forward in the next few years.
Underscoring the role of Big Society Capital as a finance wholesaler, Geetha stressed the importance of intermediaries in process, and that BSC will be looking to exhaust its coffers on innovative projects, which give investors their money back, provide a return on that investment and achieve social impact and delivery.
A clear presentation of roles and responsibilities in the sector, now and in the future.
Sam delivered a pacy and detailed analysis of the work of The Key Fund for his audience. Outlining the Fund’s history, but also encouraging intermediaries with the news of the quality of relationships the Fund enjoys, it’s flexibility and pace in moving from application to decision. A refreshing approach in a finance oriented sector, we believe.
The Fund also illustrated how innovative and enterprising communities and individuals can be. Sam offered the audience examples of Fund development clients as diverse as a Therapeutic Comedy Training Academy, a Virtual Human Body for drug testing, community wind farms and and solar photo-voltaic energy installations on community buildings.
Peter gave the assembled audience a very informative over-view of Public Sector Mutual’s development. Organisations that move into the social business sector, ofen with existing customer bases and public sector ethics and philosophy.
Reminding us that the sector could see demand for social finance rise to £500 million by 2015, Peter, nonetheless, did not shy away from some of the issues to be wrangled with in creating Mutuals in a local authority setting.
Matt explained the heavyweight nature of The Big Lottery, and how it was looking to develop agile, relevant and timely funding solutions in the future, particularly to benefit the social finance sector.
Working across three strategic layers the Fund is looking at how demand, intermediaries and the supply side of funding can all be tempered and flexed to respond to the needs of risk capital with a social mission at its centre.
Richard gave us a ‘rally cry’ speech, moving across his own initiation into social business, after being a banker for twenty years and finding himself re-tailoring a hotel group in an area of social need.
Raising £3 million pounds, only a year ago, using the social business’s innovative model of housing development, coupled to partnerships in the social enterprise sector to provide training and skills support for ex-offenders.
So successful has Richard’s ministration been that profits are reported, funding need has been reined back, temporarily, and the business is set fair to exceed it’s targets of 15 property renovations undertaken per annum and with 150 clients supported through their training process into employment by the end of this five year bond period.
Midlands Together, using a revision of the ‘Together’ model developed in Bristol, describes its work as property development with a heart. Real asset development, care for people and delivery of profits. We were inspired.
We had our breakfast convocation at the Galleries of Justice in the Lace Market quarter of Nottingham. In the heart of the city’s creative area, this museum, educational service and charity offers a fascinating series of spaces for events.
We met in the courtroom. You can see from the narrative above, all our star witnesses for the defense of Social Finance were sparkling. The verdict? Guilty of enthusiasm and expectation for the future.
Evolve 2014, an annual event for the voluntary sector is almost upon us again.
The gathering, organised by the NCVO, features a sector Summit, Marketplace and and a variety of Fringe events to occupy and interest everyone across the third sector.
No matter what your role is with, or within, the voluntary sector, there is something at Evolve 2014 that is relevant to you and your organisation. It will help you look to the future, whatever the size, shape and mission of your organisation.
Date: Monday 16 June
Time: 09.30 – 17.30
Location: The Brewery and Montcalm Hotel, London
The keynote morning events are delivered by Hilary Benn, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, as well as a session by Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The Big Lottery Fund. See the Summit agenda in detail here.
One of the key Fringe events will be delivered by Neil Berry, Head of Trading, Locality. The session reflects that…
incredibly, the economy of scale argument is still dominant in the Treasury, in government departments, in local councils and health bodies, and across the political spectrum. This is the myth that cutting costs will be achieved by combining public sector procurement into larger and larger contracts, by driving down unit costs through efficiencies of scale.
Locality will be presenting their ideas as to how this dis-economy of scale can be subverted by a new methodology of delivery for the Public Sector. The recommendations are based upon original research by Professor John Seddon and the team at Vanguard Consulting.
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