Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Wakey wakey

Today I delivered my presentation to the UK Japan Social Entrepreneurship Symposium. Opening the symposium the stunningly charasmatic Professor Ikuyo Kaneko of the Keio Research Institute told the audience that the UK is, in his opinion the world leader of social enterprise. I spoke next and whittered on about the work SEL is doing with the corporate sector. To be honest the jet lag has really got to me this time. I have been waking at 4am since I arrived and this morning I couldn't get back to sleep. So being shattered and hilariously trotting up to the podium without my notes probably didn't lead to my best performance ever. Bless them our hosts are broadcasting the presentations live on a podcast, so if you've got nothing better to do you can see for yourself.

My questions were on whether I thought government contracts were a good thing and to define commissioning and full cost recovery. I immediately refered the FCR question to Stephen who is up later and clarified the other points, yes its a good thing as long as social enterprises can achieve scale and commissioning could be the most creative job in Government, but isn't. I told the audience about our education conference coming up in April and the social enterprise route map for local authorities we are working on.

Simon Tucker from the Young Foundation was next. I liked his take on innovation and we both agreed that future public sector contracts are an opportunity and also one we can exploit with investment and scale. He boldly told the Japanese that he thought the Social Enterprise Mark had failed, which was a sit up and take notice moment. Stephen is next and I can't wait. He has provided me with an audible monologue throughout the presentations which has been a hoot. Off for a diet coke now, must stay awake.

Stephen is up now. He's started with a story about Will Adams the first Englishman to arrive in Japan 410 years ago. He, Stephen told us, was shipwrecked and then went on to help establish the Japanese navy. Not the sort of social impact we are talking about today, but impact nonetheless. The audience loved it, so he's off to a strong start. He's telling the audience about his key role in persuading the UK Government in establishing the Office of the Third Sector and Acevo's role in lobbying Goverment. He explains the growing power of the 3rd sector by its growing economic power turning over £116 billion last year. All three of us have emphasised trust that comes with social enterprise, integrity and as Stephen has just said, energy. He's coming across as quite the ambassador for the UK, which will, I am sure go down well with our hosts the British Council, Keio University, and the Japan Foundation. They should have seen him at the Thai Seafood resturant we went to last night when we all had to wear these awful bibs!

I love Japan. Its elegant, ordered and so clean and the people are wonderfully hospitable. But I am really looking forward to going home in the morning. I haven't seen my boys for nearly 2 weeks as they were both on school trips last week. I heard from Sams guitar teacher while here that he has got Merit for his Grade III guitar exam which means that on top of a distinction for his piano and Joes merit for piano we have a lot to celebrate.

Back to Mr Bubb, he is getting folk to sign up to Jacevo the japanese wing of acevo and emphasising the work of the third sector in managing long term medical conditions, as an example. He has demonstrated our roles in innovation, lobbying, media, cost savings and professionalisation. We do come off rather well, all of us have represented the best Britain has to offer, but I do wonder what our hosts make of it all.

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