Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Going for Global

I had a wonderful chat today with Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada. We met when we shared a platform at the Guardian Public Services Platform earlier on in the year. Paul is probably one of the world’s most high profile advocates of social enterprise, and of course on everyone’s lips at the moment. As a tough finance minister before he became prime minister from 2004 Paul is widely credited with eliminating the Canadian C$42bn (£22bn) deficit in just four years. So his formula for addressing national borrowing as well as his support of social enterprise makes him very much the man to talk to.

We chatted about lots of things. I wanted to share with him the work we're doing developing social enterprise, as his opinion is one that matters. I was delighted when he gave us his wholehearted support. He was interested in the work I have been doing recently in Korea and Japan and also Vietnam. Paul is a figure on the world stage and more capable than most of us in making connections that can really make a very big difference. As I have said many times, social enterprise is a Global movement and we have a real role in learning and sharing with the rest of the world that is using social enterprise.

I do have interesting days. To contrast with that phone conversation and the meeting I am about to have in Westminster, my day started at 7.30am worming one of our family pet rabbits, Bubbles, known fondly as Bubbs for short (one for Robin Bogg?). I then had a really interesting meeting with Ernst and Young’s Head of CSR Nicky Major about their Social Entrepreneur of the Year awards. It is always great to talk to someone who really gets us and what we are trying to do. If E & Y can also use their not inconsiderable know how to boost the skills of my members, that has to be a really good thing.

We will need all the support we can get if the popularity for social enterprise illustrated by our Richmond event yesterday is anything to go by. We had over 140 people turn up in Twickenham to the launch of Social Enterprise Richmond (SER) with keynote speaker local MP, Zac Goldsmith. Zac was in contact with me days after he was elected as he is genuinely passionate about social enterprise, which is great. My only note of caution, echoed by my friend Stephen Bubb's (no, the rabbit was not named after him) article in the Times yesterday (I'd link to link it, but it turns out you have to pay £1 for access these days). Stephen is worried that as we encourage more people to come forward to get involved with community business we need to be able to match their needs with capacity building.

Social Enterprise Richmond is a small group of enthusiastic, experienced people (including James Alexander, formerly of CAN and Terry Veitch, my predecessor as Deputy Chair of Acevo) who are, to date acting as volunteers. If only a fraction of the 140 people who turned up yesterday need comprehensive business support they will not be able to cope. Even a modest investment in local infrastructure is going to be essential, and local groups will not offer the best information if they are not supplied with it by coordinating groups.

I know the fashion is local these days and I agree. But local, needs regional, needs national and in my opinion (and I know Paul Martin would agree) needs international too. This is a global movement happening at local level.
Bubbs the rabbit with Katie


  1. Precisely Allison, but before going further I want to thank SEL for the interest showed to us 6 years ago, when SEL staff looked over a business plan we'd developed for investment in CDFIs.

    We'd been doing social enterprise in Russian and Ukraine and that's where we'd returned in 2004.

    As you'll see from our web site, the aim is to "replicate localised people-centered economics on a global basis"



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  4. Specifically Allison, however prior to going additional I wish to say thanks to SEL for that curiosity demonstrated in order to all of us 6 in years past, whenever SEL personnel viewed a company strategy we would created with regard to expense within CDFIs.

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