Celebrations kicked off last night for SEL when I opened our event with the Philosophy Shop and left a packed room poised to answer the big question, “What is a social enterprise?”. I then went off to the official launch of the Women’s Enterprise Taskforce report “Greater Return on Women’s Enterprise” where we heard from the wonderful Alyson Warhurst, Co- Founder and CEO of Maplecroft, a company first into the market with global risk analysis. She went from working from her bedroom to employing 42 employees and working for leading companies like Nokia, Microsoft, M & S and TNT. She told us about the plight of adolescent girls worldwide, how their lack of education and access to finance means a loss to GDP. How they are more likely to get HIV the closer to roads they lived and how in turn the prevalence of HIV affects corporate supply. All of these factors are part of the risk planning large corporates undertake when looking at expanding their operations worldwide. Alyson lives in a very interesting world, although the vagaries of running a business are similar no matter where you are. She told us how slow corporates are to pay their bills, and how important it is to productise data when everyone wants something for nothing. I found her presentation gripping.
The Taskforce was thanked by Lord Davies, the Business Minister, who committed to making sure the recommendations were enacted by Government, something we are confident of because not only is the UK economy crying out for more women in business but also it was Gordon Brown himself who established the Taskforce in 2006 and gave it the job of advising how to increase the quantity, scalability and success of women’s enterprise. Our co-chairs, Pam Alexander and Glenda Stone, thanked all of us and the colleagues who worked tirelessly with us to produce the work, and then we all exited stage left for a celebratory drink.
I left that reception to have a delightful supper with my friend Baroness Glenys Thorton, Minister in the Whips Office. We talked of all things social enterprise and family and had a good catch up. Sadly on the way home my hybrid car fizzled out and I had to fall back on the services of the AA to get me home, but I didn’t let that diminish my sense of having had a good day. However, I’d still like to know what the answer to the big question was?
Today I am off to No 10 for the Prime Minister’s Reception for Social Entrepreneurs, then to Birmingham to speak at the Guardian’s conference on social enterprise, and finally I hope to swing by this evening to the London Early Years Foundation annual Social Enterprise Day Lecture which is always really thought provoking. Whatever you’re doing today have a great day and spare a thought for all of those working against the rising tide of cynicism to make a better, fairer and greener world.