Taking the Rise in Social Enterprise

I wrote recently describing the response to my introduction from the Social Enterprise Coalition, of being outside their focus.  I’d also made the same introduction to RISE-SW the regional support agency. It took several reminders to get this response:

Date: Tuesday, 6 May, 2008, 16:49

Hello Jeff

Thanks for your email.  I will provide what help I can, but we are
tasked with developing the social enterprise sector in the South West of
England, so I’m afraid there are areas of your enquiry which are outside
of our remit.  The main areas of our work concern the development of a
region wide business support service for social enterprises (see our
website, this contract has just been advertised with OJEU); the
provision of high quality business advice; the development of an
identity for social enterprises – the Social Enterprise Mark
http://www.socialenterprisemark.co.uk to help customers to choose products and
services provided by social enterprises; and lobbying on behalf of our
members on the barriers they face, in national policy development.

With regard to social enterprises not obtaining security clearance, we
have not experienced this problem before, so can’t offer any help I’m
afraid.

Perhaps these links may help:

Social Enterprise Coalition – The national social enterprise body:
http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk

Community Development Finance Association – have carried out work on
peer lending http://www.cdfa.org.uk

A regional Community Development Finance Institution network in the
South West: South West Investment Group
http://www.southwestinvestmentgroup.co.uk

You could highlight your excellent work with the Ukraine as part of
Global Entrepreneurship Week (the same time as Enterprise Week in the
UK) w/c 17 November 2008. http://www.unleashingideas.org/

East End Reinvestment Trust – business microfinance
http://www.microfinancegateway.org/content/article/detail/13622

Wessex Reinvestment Trust – micro finance in the form of home loans
http://www.wessexrt.co.uk/

The Social Enterprise Mark opportunities to network and develop your
organization you already know about.

There’s also Social Enterprise Link – the interim regional business
support service for social enterprise, which can provide advice and
guidance e: referrals@co-active.org.uk

I hope this information is useful to you.  I apologise for the delay in
responding to your emails.  I have checked with my colleagues and they
have no record of receiving your original enquiry.

Kind regards

Anne Mountjoy
Marketing and Communications Manager
RISE
http://www.rise-sw.co.uk

This time we’re outside their remit rather than their focus, but the experience of being passed on is getting more familiar.

The operational model I introduced to them is described in an earlier post about social enterprise definition and by then in our website.  We do business for profit and invest our surplus in social objectives,  our international projects tackling poverty and childcare reform.

It will be another two years before the  Social Enterprise Mark, they refer to, is published. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the model described in my communications and our 1996 paper.

“The P-CED concept is to create new businesses that do things differently from their inception, and perhaps modify existing businesses that want to do it. This business model entails doing exactly the same things by which any business is set up and conducted in the free-market system of economics. The only difference is this: that at least fifty percent of profits go to stimulate a given local economy, instead of going to private hands. In effect, the business would operate in much the same manner as a charitable, non-profit organization whose proceeds go to local, national, and international charities. Non-profits, however, are typically very restricted in the type of business they can conduct. In the United States, all non-profits must constantly pay heed that they are not violating those restrictions, lest they suffer the wrath of the Internal Revenue Service. For-profits, on the other hand, have a relatively free hand when it comes to doing business. The only restrictions are the normal terms and conditions of free-enterprise. If a corporation wants to donate to its local community, it can do so, be it one percent, five percent, fifty or even seventy percent. There is no one to protest or dictate otherwise, except a board of directors and stockholders. This is not a small consideration, since most boards and stockholders would object.  But, if an a priori arrangement has been made with said stockholders and directors such that this direction of profits is entirely the point, then no objection can emerge. Indeed, the corporate charter can require that these monies be directed into community development funds, such as a permanent, irrevocable trust fund. The trust fund, in turn, would be under the oversight of a board of directors made up of corporate employees and community leaders. “

It went on to describe how the community would benefit using the example of a hypothetical software design business, which became a reality in 2004.

“With an initial P-CED business enterprise set up in a given community, it becomes possible to bring people into the fold, so to speak, of the Information Age. No existing company need change anything whatsoever about how it does business. New web development, software development and information management enterprises, for example, can be set up quickly for extremely low seed capital outlays. Existing businesses who need web/software development and management services can have their business readily enhanced for costs that are relatively insignificant compared to increased viability and long-term profitability of entering into a much broader marketplace–without a brick being laid. The design firm wins, the existing business wins. Most importantly, the community-at-large wins by way of decreased poverty and unemployment, since the design firm’s profits for the most part go back into the community–for adult education or retraining, high-tech head start programs for underprivileged children, seeding new small businesses, and social relief. Along the way, the design firm’s employees benefit from good wages, profit sharing, and normal benefit packages. Well paid employees in effect produce, inevitably, highly desirable social and community outcomes. In short, everyone benefits. In that this new enterprise effectively becomes a primary node and locus of much-needed information for the community, it is appropriate to seek seed capital to start the enterprise from traditional development and aid funding sources. The result is a self-sustaining and self-perpetuating enterprise that feeds on the very need, or demand, for resources that hampered the community and its people to begin with.”

The paper published online in 1997 placed this model in the global commons for other to use free of charge. We were being asked to pay a government subsidised organisation to align with our own IP.

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