Thursday, 10 June 2010

Training for the world cup

For those of us in the social business things are rather odd.  On the one hand I am having some of the most interesting conversations with politicians, civil servants and entrepreneurs about social enterprise that I have ever had. On the other hand the Government keeps doing things that upset me. I'm trying to keep the faith.

Last night's announcement of Social Enterprise Magazine's SE100 Index, sponsored by RBS, showed that social enterprises in the index had experienced 80 per cent growth in revenue in the last year.  I noted that of the top 10, half are from London. So that was a real boost. At the awards, our Minister, Nick Hurd said  "The Government has a powerful vision for Big Society which we must all contribute to the common good. Social enterprise will have a greater role to play in the future".

But I have been sad to see the Future Jobs Fund cut, when we at SEL were seeing so many enthusiastic and really lovely young people getting jobs that blew them away. For us and the 500 young people we are helping through the scheme, it was working.

I was sad too that Futurebuilders will be no more.  I know there are other great funds like Big Invest, but FB has been a great help to my members, and I await to see what using the investment to create community leaders will look like. My hope is that they will be allowed to come from the public sector. I have spent the last 10 years working on the concept of sustainability and proving it works. I would like this new breed of community leaders to be encouraged to set up sustainable enterprises that improve services and get things done, not faff around having meetings and writing pamphlets. To be brutally honest I wasn't a big fan of the old GLC days when activism reached an art form and to my mind did very little to improve the quality of the lives of the poorest.  

To cheer myself up I have been plotting with collegues and clients a brave new future for social enterprise. Our vision will weather the perfect storm of soaring demand and diminshed resources. We are like the England squad, getting ready to take on the world and trying really hard not to be set back by injury.

Social enterprise offers the perfect formula to snatch innovation and community cohesion from the jaws of cuts, cuts and more cuts. But social entrepreneurs will need to borrow money and have access to world class advice to pull it off. You can't send them on to the pitch with dodgy kit. 

In the meantime, we have to survive, so belts have been tightened. Although SEL staff have, as you would expect been fantastic, I sense unease. The photos below were recently sent to me from our Dominic. They show the view from his hotel window when he was in Liverpool training folk for SEL. We of course booked the hotel in accordance to our new austerity measures and I'm not sure he was chuffed - the first snap is the view from his window:

Hotel catering at its best

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