Will a new toolbelt help social entrepreneurs?

Setoolbelt The SE Toolbelt is an online information platform aiming to provide social entrepreneurs with practical resources that have been developed by their peers. It boasts 1000 or so items of various shapes and sizes on its data base, and these are grouped broadly by business topics and sectors.
From the School’s point of view, you can imagine an ideal scenario where someone with a fledgling project could find a precedent, capitalise on pre-existing market research and a functioning business model, and adapt them to a new enterprise. More developed organisations could research approaches to scaling best practice or SROI in a format that is, in principle, an extension of, or addition to, the peer learning process.

Thumbing through the available materials, however, I’m sceptical of the claim that SE Toolbelt “brings a grassroots practitioner perspective to the fore”. The site is a library of business school-esque articles on topics from Marketing and External Communications to Risk Management – interesting in themselves, but part of the top-down academic approach that the site is hoping to challenge.
It is easier to see a way for a collection of case studies to find their way into the SSE programme, supplementing live witness sessions with further examples.

At the moment though, most studies are based in North America, or hot beds of social enterprise in the developing world, particularly India. There is relatively little based in, or coming from the UK, which means students will always be dealing with a different legal system, funding structure, cultural and social context etc. But this doesn’t stop entrepreneurs in the UK getting involved, and it may be that as the site grows it will become increasingly relevant. Like any online platform, Toolbelt will be useful if it’s used.

[Richard is currently interning with SSE, helping on a wide variety of projects. You can also follow @SEToolbelt on Twitter]

Share Button

Top 10 podcasts for social entrepreneurs

Following on the back of the top 10 blogs for social entrepreneurs, I thought I might add to that with some podcast links. I've been travelling a bit of late (currently on my way to Leeds) which, in addition to the commute, has meant a fair amount of podcast listening. I'm retreading a bit of previous ground here (see Podcasts + Pendolinos, Recent Social Enterprise podcasting, and Podcasts and  Audio Links), but there have been some decent additions to some old favourites….so here goes:

1) First up has to be Peter Day's World of Business which is consistently interesting about all aspects of business. And, when you consider that the last three episodes have featured employee-ownership, biofuels and entrepreneurship advice, it is also often of considerable relevance to social entrepreneurs

2) More specifically of this world is Social Innovation Conversations which is a US-based podcast affiliated to Stanford Social Innovation Review; mostly it is downloadable episodes of panels / speeches from events, but they are usually high quality people talking about relevant issues, so definitely worth a look through the archive

3) Evan Davis is best known for hosting Dragon's Den here, but I think his Bottom Line radio programme is great. Simple format (3 CEOs, 3 different companies, discussing few specific topics) and doesn't outstay its welcome. Has featured Divine Chocolate's Sophi Tranchell and Anne MacCaig of CafeDIrect previously.

4) SmallBizPod is the leading small business specific podcast, and Alex Bellinger does a terrific job with it, meeting entrepreneurs and raising issues that you don't find elsewhere. You can find a social enterprise specific section on the website with interviews from events and leading social entrepreneurs.

5) Echoing Green has been supporting social entrepreneurs for 20 years or so, and is one of the few support organisations to have ventured into podcasting. Its Be Bold podcast is about careers and is obviously pretty US-centric, but there's some good stuff here regardless: about people's motivations, about supporting oneself, about personal development and so forth.

6) Staying in the US, PRI do an occasional social entrepreneurship podcast, usually focused on international development work, and usually quite brief; but decent-enough

7) For a more cerebral take, and cutting-edge business thinking, try HBR's IdeaCast. Occasionally tiresome when it's just Harvard authors plugging Harvard books, but it's a good place for prompting new thinking and new ideas.

8) I've recently got into the Business podcast from the Guardian, which is pretty good + snappy about current business events + news; occasionally features ClearlySo supremo Rod Schwartz as well….

9) Some decent enough bitesize intro podcasts from Enterprising Non-profits in Canada (planning, value, what is social enterprise etc)

10) Brand new is the Ashoka Tech podcast, which has started with an episode on World Toilet Day (insert joke about starting at the bottom here….); bodes well, but too early to tell: one to keep an eye on.


And if that's not enough for you, see our bookmarks for more, or check out the 100 best small business podcasts, although if you;ve got time to listen to all of those, then the business is probably going down the pan :0)

Working up the courage / energy to do twitter lists (twists?) at some point soon….

Share Button