Overdue round-up of social entrepreneur news

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It’s been a busy time recently, so here’s a round-up of some items of interest as a means of catch-up.

– Rocket Science are undertaking a review of regional business support for the Social Enterprise Unit, now snugly ensconced in the Office of the Third Sector. See RS’ news section for more

– Social Enterprise Coalition have published a pamphlet by Patricia Hewitt with her vision of social enterprise within healthcare…see SEC’s website

– A new Scottish-centred social enterprise magazine, Good Company, has been launched

Google Foundation has an unusual structure which could suit investment in social entrepreneurs; see here as well for more comment

– The Rural Social Enterprise Conference takes place in November 22nd and 23rd…in Somerset

10 steps to avoid the start-up graveyard (which is an interesting concept in itself….)

– Interesting post by Todd Hannula at Social Catalyst on scaling; will follow up on this subject soon

– Alliance piece by Rod Schwarz entitled "Profit taboo in social enterprise country?"

– Ed Miliband clarifies the position on the third sector and public service delivery (summary: the idea of charities and social enterprises being major public service providers has been overplayed)

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Is Charles Clarke a social entrepreneur?

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Diving headfirst, if a little tardily, into the machinations of the Labour leadership, it was interesting to note that Charles Clarke, in between sideswipes, had said that the difference between Blairites and Brownites was the difference between ‘social entrepreneurs’ and ‘Fabians’. According to Demos, this is his way of saying that "The [Brownites] still believe the central state is the best way of securing
equity and improving lives. The [Blairites] think that local freedom and
engagement are the better route."

As well as raising the question of whether Tony Blair is a social entrepreneur, this also seems a bit too simplistic or binary. Gordon Brown’s proclamations + support for various organisations (including ourselves) doesn’t back up this view of him as an old-fashioned centrist. There is also an argument (which Demos make) that New Labour is more interested in new ways of delivering services, rather than full-on devolution/"true" social entrepreneurship.

More interestingly, it does raise the question of whether a government minister can ever be a social entrepreneur. Social entrepreneurs do cut across sectors, so they can work in the public sector. Politicians do challenge and change the status quo at times (particularly when newly in power) but do they take risks or have enough ownership of initiatives to warrant the name? Do they have the personal attachment to the mission? Who knows, but it’s an interesting development in the use of the term, whether you agree with it or not.

For a more ‘traditional’ vision (or version) of a social entrepreneur, you can download Ashoka-famed Bill Drayton’s "Everyone a Changemaker: the ultimate vision of social entrepreneurship" here.

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Upcoming social enterprise events: September/October 2006

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As the world of social enterprise and entrepreneurship grows and grows, I am beginning to think it is possible to go to a related event or conference on every single day of the year….that’s not a gauntlet being thrown down by the way. It does showcase the need to choose wisely and appropriately, and make the most of the events you choose to attend though. Here’s some of what’s upcoming in the UK this autumn:

– 14th September: Social Enterprise Sports Conference, at the Walker Stadium, Leicester; featuring Richard Caborn and a demonstration of BMX and skateboarding….see SEEM’s website for more, or call 0115 845 6434

– 17th-19th September: Enterprising Communities 2006, in Birmingham,  which is the DTA’s annual conference; features Ruth Kelly and Ed Miliband, + practitioners, coach trips, multimedia visits, expert surgeries and hot topic debates…..see DTA’s website for more information…or call 01633 411 732

– 25th September: Reaching Your Market, a Social Enterprise London conference on marketing for non-profit organisations; includes "Diverse and high calibre speakers with expertise in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors; discussions and debate about how and when to market your social aim as a USP; networking time with fellow social enterprise professionals"; see SEL’s website or call  020 7022 1920

– 2nd October:  Match Winners, a conference at Canary Wharf on commercial partnerships that are "making money…and making a difference"; follows on from the CAN report of the same name last autumn, and features Fifteen, Green-Works, Barclays, Ed Miliband, ACEVO, CAN and SEC etc……; see here for more details

– 19th October: FOOTSEY 100 at York Racecourse, "the largest and most successful social economy trade fair in the UK"; features workshops/sessions on housing associations, procurement, a Dragon’s Den, legal structures and more; see FOOTSEY 100, or call

– 20th October: Social Enterprise and Community Regeneration, one-day conference at Brunel University, providing
"a forum for addressing and debating the role of social enterprise as a means for community regeneration"; see Brunel’s website for more info
 

That about covers it for now, though there are some interesting regional events going on (see SESC, for example, in Yorkshire). If I was choosing? Probably FOOTSEY, DTA and MatchWinners, in that order, but, as they used to say on Blind Date, the choice is yours….oh, and don’t forget Enterprise Week (and Social Enterprise Day on the Thursday) follow hot on the heels in November….

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Minipreneurs and trendwatching

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Trendwatching, and its offshoot, Springwise, have long been worth a look now and again, if only to convince yourself that your finger is on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Or something.

The latest thing I spotted was Minipreneurs, which is kind of a mix of web 2.0, pro-ams and, well, grassroots entrepreneurs. Or as trendwatching puts it:

"We have dubbed this trend ‘MINIPRENEURS’:
a vast army of consumers turning entrepreneurs; including small and
micro businesses, freelancers, side-businesses, weekend entrepreneurs,
web-driven entrepreneurs, part-timers, free agents, cottage businesses,
seniorpreneurs, co-creators, mompreneurs, pro-ams, solopreneurs, eBay
traders, advertising-sponsored bloggers and so on."

Over on the less webby, more social side of things, Robert Katz took up the theme (meme?) on Worldchanging and pointed out that "consumers turning entrepreneurs" is all the more powerful when ‘consumers’ is widened to ‘users’, meaning social entrepreneurs changing things with new models and ways of doing things emerging from the grassroots:

"First of all, minipreneurs aren’t new, so all the talk does feel a bit hyped-up. Microfinance 
organizations have been funding small-scale business ideas for 30-plus
years, and it’s generally acknowledged that entrepreneurs can be a
pretty good investment. They deliver development outcomes, too, by
providing lower-cost goods and services while building local human and
social capital. What are new are the tools and strategies available to
help businesses get started and continue growing – and that’s where the
real potential lies."

Katz is very good on the need for a combination of flexible business models and methodologies with passionate, driven, engaged entrepreneurs. Whilst his focus, and his case studies, are centred in "low-income" countries, the same is no less true for poorer areas in the UK, US, Europe et al.

[Also of interest on WorldChanging is Jon Lebowsky on Nonprofit 2.0 and the Long Tail; Social Entrepreneurship 2.0 to follow ;0)]

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