Leadership in action event: social entrepreneurship reports launched

On Tuesday, SSE launched two new reports at an event at NESTA, which have wide significance for the sector, government et al….

– The first is an executive summary of the Evaluation of the School for Social Entrepreneurs 1997-2007, by the New Economics Foundation, and with a foreword by Ed Miliband MP.

– The second is a new research report, Leadership in the Social Economy, by Charlotte Chambers (SSE Chair) and Fiona Edwards-Stuart.

[Both are downloadable, as is the press release, from the online SSE media centre]

You can read the official news article about the launch on the main site, which makes clear that both reports make a strong case both for people being the key to sustainable change, and also for tailored, long-term support for social entrepreneurs. Or, to quote Alastair Wilson, SSE Chief Executive:

"These two reports make a compelling case for supporting social
entrepreneurs as a means of driving social change. Both serve as
crucial reminders to all in the third sector that sustainable
organisations are people-powered, and that our most crucial resources
are human ones.”

The event was really well-attended, so thanks to all those people for their support…and for those who were mopping my slightly fevered brow beforehand. First up were a sterling set of keynote speakers: Hilary Armstrong, making her last public speech as Minister for the Cabinet Office, gave a strong endorsement of the SSE, and placed our work in a wider political context. Given our new partnerships with government, this was especially welcome.

She was followed by Liam Black, of the Fifteen Foundation, who entertainingly wondered when he went from being a "bright young thing" to an "eminence grise", as he reflected on his journey as a social entrepreneur. He also gave a ringing endorsement of the SSE, in slightly more forceful terms: "There’s a lot of bulls**t  and hype spoken about social enterprise and entrepreneurship, but none of it by Alastair or the SSE". He also had interesting things to say about his journey, though: that it was alright to be afraid; that if it starts feeling easy, it’s probably going downhill; that everyone makes their own mistakes (but it’s good not to make other people’s again). He was also open and honest about their own struggles with replication (and replicating an ethos and culture), which was refreshing.

Finally, Alastair spoke about how both reports give real evidence that the SSE methodology works and creates lasting change, and how we are now looking to proactively replicate the franchise across the UK. It was great to have the support of Carmel and Ken from SSE Ireland, Fergus from East Midlands SSE, and Jo and Lisa from Liverpool SSE at the event, because this was very much about promoting the network. Also delighted to see several current SSE students and Fellows there, giving them great networking opportunities as well as hearing more about why we do what we do…

The room was then literally divided in two (by the wonders of NESTA’s space-age offices) for the workshops about each publication. I can’t speak for the Leadership in the Social Economy workshop (though I heard good feedback afterwards), but the Evaluation one seemed well-received, and myself and Richard (from nef) were really pleased by the thoughtful and incisive questioning, which allowed us to flesh out the bare bones of the report itself. Questions about response rates, overall aim/purpose, methodology (and its implications for the 3rd sector), time commitment, background / make-up of Fellows and student cohorts all helped further issues come to light, and I had some good strong discussions which carried on afterwards in the networking….

For those who were there, and/or who have read the reports, we’d be delighted to receive any comments below, or directly by e-mail. Thanks.

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