This is a story of appropriating social enterprise which will end in death for s social business pioneer and many of the vulnerable children his work focussed on. It is a story of dishonesty and moral cowardice which illustrates that social enterprise does more to harm itself than anything done “not in our name”.
“What if the economy benefited people and not people the economy ” the website proclaimed
It begins in the Summer of 2010, when the Social Business Tour is hosted in Budapest and calls for submissions in an Idea Contest
By then our work has gone far beyond an idea, having long been published as a strategy plan on a very prominent website. I introduced this through the suggested web portal. It derived from our 1996 paper describing an alternative economic model serving people, a people-centered form of economics.
It develops into a conversation when I introduce the prrof of concept project known as the Tomsk Regional Initiave
thank you very much for contacting us concerning Your microfinance inintiative in Tomsk – could you provide us with more information on the activies you are pursuing in Ukraine and Russia currently?
As we are closely cooperating with Grameen Creative Lab currently on the so called Social Business Tour, and as I could understand from your mail you have already tried to be in contact with GCL, I think that we could potentially help you, if we would know what you want is your proposal?
Could you provide us with a summary of your activities and plans where you see our added value?
My very best regards,
Erste Group Bank AG
OE 0196 0324 / good.bee
A-1010 Vienna, Friedrichstrasse 10
I reply and receive an acknowledgement o of submission on 9th July:
Thanks very much for your reply. I am copying this to Terry our founder , currently in Ukraine.
Child care reform for example has led to a 40% increase in domestic adoption.
I should also mention, noticing that you have Serbia listed as one of your development areas, that Terry spent a week during 2004 to produce a preliminary proposal for the polluted Bor/Majdanpek region, which he may care to expand on.
This marks the end of the conversation with competition winners later announced. A few months later however , I’m shocked to see that our social enterprise proposal for Ukraine under another banner with Erste as one of the partners. The British Council who promote British culture and values overseas, taking the lead. For many it will confirm what has long been suspected of business plan competitions.
When Terry Hallman died last year in poverty a year ago, I gave local civic activists a copy of the letter calling for support from USAID, from which they published an extract with their acknowledgement of his efforts. The broader scope of this letter may also be of interest, drawing attention to the spending in Iraq.
I’t perhaps ironic that in Terry’s original paper, he argues that once we accept that others are disposable and in the way, we accept the case for our own disposal. Clearly he was in the way of political ambitions with lesser transparency. As he put it in the core argument “dismissing other people and consciously leaving them to die is probably not the way to go”
We must hold in mind that the focus on vulnerable children was far from welcome where it had become a profit centre for organised crime. Banks least of all would want to alienate those wielding power.
“Profit maximising companies don’t go there” says Muhammad Yunus of social business, “What kind of world is this. Should we leave everything to the decisions of the profit maximisers, for their benefit?“.
For the children concerned, profit maximisation is achieved by minimising care, with the consequence that like Andteyuska, the boy discovered by Albert Pavlov , many die of malnutrition. Around 10-12% annually was the figure reported.
“Not in our name” say those who campaign against Sales force making private gain from the term ‘social enterprise’, yet some off what is done under the banner of social enterprise, has a clear disregard for human life. In whose name does afive year old boy weigh in at 15 pounds?
Within two years , Grameen themselves find they are also in the way of political ambitions with the threat of Bangladesh government taking control. Some like Sir Richard Branson, have called on British government to stand by Yunus, unaware perhaps of the stance already taken.
Once again, we are rallied to the cause of solidarity, while at the same time forgetting wh at Martin Neimoller drew our attention to when he wrote:
“Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”