Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Hope springs eternal

I’m exhausted! I’ve been up half the night crying for the Chilean miners stuck in the mine at San Jose. Like so many people I have been holding my breath for those men made extraordinary by their ordeal. I stayed up to see the first miner, Florencio Avalos coming out looking so fit and healthy. Florencio was chosen to come up first because he was deemed the strongest and they were not sure if the capsule would get stuck. Lord only knows what they had told him to try and do if it did become lodged in its journey of 2000 meters to the surface. Thankfully he came out without a hitch followed by the slab of a man, Mario Sepulvida, who looked like he had just stepped of Miami beach, leading the crowd in a victory song. Man No. 5 was Jimmy Sanchez, at 19 the youngest man who’s daughter ‘Hope’ had been born while he was down there. Reading between the lines it seems that Jimmy has had a breakdown when he was stuck down there in the dark, in 35 C with 85% humidity and for 17 days, undiscovered. Who knows what they have been through? You can only marvel at the resilience of the human spirit.

Spirit, like hope, springs eternal, and as we can feel from Chile, it’s contagious. Another reason I couldn’t sleep was my excitement following an event we had last night hosted by KPMG, and led by the social enterprise enthusiast, KPMG partner, Vincent Neate. It was to celebrate the successful conclusion of a program we have been able to offer members called ‘The Next Big Thing’. This series of events had given social enterprises a chance to work with experts from KPMG on the issues that are holding them back from being, yes you guessed it, the next big thing. Last night also gave us an opportunity to make the announcement that KPMG have kindly offered a second program to be launched later in the year. During the evening we wanted to know more about what social enterprises would like to see in a new program. We were also interested in demand; the first program was launched at a time of plenty, this time around many social enterprises are fighting for their commercial lives, would they have time for capacity building? Well it was standing room only, the vast majority of our members who turned up had not been on the first program but were there to sign up to the new one. To help us make it just the job they spent the evening coming up with very clear needs for support on business planning, debt readiness, supply chain management, procurement success and refining routes to market.

If you didn’t have a chance to make it last night, and to be honest, if you had you might not have got a seat, then make sure you contact SEL if the KPMG program seems something you could benefit from. It's first come, first served. I have to say if last night was anything to go by, the demand from social enterprises for business support is acute, and if we are to meet the challenges of the Big Society, government will have to help us help these inspired, socially motivated businesses grow and succeed. In lieu of which we are very thankful to KPMG for their continued support.


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