School for Social Entrepreneurs makes TV debut…

It has often been the subject of conversation at SSE about how what the organisation does, and what the effect is on social entrepreneurs, is best communicated through their stories, their journeys and their words. Fortunately, with thanks to a great Media Trust initiative and the amazing production skills and efforts of the team at Project Monster, we were able to make a new promotional video which goes some way to doing just that; via Andre, Junior, Tom, Charles and more.

The video will be shown on the Community Channel tonight (April 12th) at 6.30pm; or you can watch it now below :0)


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UPDATED: SSE student on Channel 4 on Secret Millionaire

Not much time to blog about this (or for you to read about it), but current SSE student Sabrina Ben-Salmi features on the Secret Millionaire this evening on Channel 4. You can catch it online via 4 On Demand if you miss it tonight (link to follow). Obviously, I can’t give away what happens, but suffice to say it is one of the most jaw-dropping episodes thus far….

UPDATED: Amazing stuff: Sabrina (described in thelondonpaper on my way home as "a saint") came across superbly, and got a laptop and £5k to continue her work. Oh yes, and a deposit on a house. I liked that the millionaire (Gill) emphasised the importance of looking after yourself as well as other people, often the central challenge for really committed social entrepreneurs.

For those wishing to know more about Sabrina’s work, see The Mobile Single Parent Project website

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The Social Apprentice has Bright Ideas…

Following hot on the heels of the Dragon’s Den not getting social enterprise comes some exciting and vaguely related news… Tim Campbell, first winner of the UK Apprentice, is leaving Amstrad behind to start on two projects of his own. One is about male grooming, but the other, entitled the Bright Ideas Trust, will be a "social enterprise initiative". No concrete details as yet, although it plans to " give away at least £1 million a year to budding entrepreneurs". Interesting stuff: Tim has clearly seen the light… 

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Dragons don’t understand social enterprise

CNN visited the SSE this week, to learn more about social enterprise and entrepreneurship; they met several of our current students and sat in an expert witness session with social enterprise legend Colin Crooks of Green-Works. In discussing the sector, the movement, the history, the definitions (!) et al, we got right to the real water-cooler stuff as well: namely, that the Dragon’s Den five had totally rejected a “social enterprise” on the programme the night before, because “charity and business don’t mix”.

The episode in question is here, but sadly not the bit that includes the proposal in question (though you can submit a comment). A Senscot member has weighed in with his view on what happened. I confess to having missed the pitch through going to make a cup of tea, so it may have been unclear and sketchy and badly presented. But the reactions (which I did see) from the Dragons seemed to be that they simply could not grasp the idea of social purpose and business mixing. Which is bizarre, not to say near-backward: have five so-called cutting edge businesspeople not even heard of social enterprise? Not know who Jamie Oliver, John Bird and Tim Smit are? And their reaction was very strong, fake designer taschen kaufen as well….enough to make grown social enterpreneurs weep.

Anyway, a “dragon’s den” format is now de rigeur at all third sector conferences, but what the movement really wants is an equivalent on TV (I once suggested the Social Apprentice). Perhaps it would be too cute and fuzzy for good TV (bunnies rather than dragons?), but it also seems that the whole concept would need a massive amount of explaining. The mere concept of a social as well as financial return on investment might send them running down the stairs. Sustainability, pah! etc…

Or perhaps, once they were in a different mindset, it would be different. Duncan Bannatyne found no problem about giving money away on ITV’s Fortune programme, so perhaps he just needs to find a middle ground between the two?

Peter, Duncan, Theo, Richard, Deborah: love the programme, but get with ours.

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The Social Apprentice: the human face of ambition?

In response to a piece the other day about how the TV show The Apprentice demonstrated that "Blair’s Britain was all about profit", I wrote in a letter, printed in the Guardian, which set out an alternative point of view, and the potential for an alternative type of show: the Social Apprentice.

The basic idea is for 14 social entrepreneurs to take the place of these business high-flyers driven by pure profit. Tasks could be similar, if themed: participants sent out as chuggers on the streets, or organising a big fundraising event (as they will have to in this coming week’s episode), or developing a new product for a social enterprise, or rebranding and so on….the ultimate prize could be £100k towards starting up/expanding their own organisation/initiative, or a job with Anita Roddick or Muhammad Yunus or Al Gore, or someone else doing interesting things socially and environmentally.

People always say at ideas like this (and I’m not pretending I’ve come up with this….BBC/ITV/C4 have all discussed various versions of this or Dragon’s Den with us and other organisations…) that the show will be too worthy and dull, and everyone will get on because they’ll be so ‘nice’, and they won’t have strong personalities etc….these people have obviously never worked in this field. They should come and sit in on a session here at SSE and tell us there’s no passion, ambition, personality or conflict in this world.

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