Nice to see this column by Lucy Siegle in the Observer magazine asking if social entrepreneurs can be green. Of course, many social entrepreneurs do work to a triple bottom line of financial, social and environmental. And a fair number of our latest SSE Fellows from Liverpool SSE all do so; sadly I couldn't be at their graduation, but this video by SSE Fellow org Brava Design, is the next best thing. Enjoy:
Great to go and visit our Yorkshire and Humber SSE today, and not just because East Coast trains do free wi-fi (hooray)…but also much more importantly to get a catch-up on how the first programme is going up there, and to meet with three current students currently being supported.
What was great for me was that the relatively dry, formal points I had been making in the first part of the conversation were vividly brought to life by the real examples the social entrepreneurs brought up as they spoke. Here’s some examples of what I mean.
1) Formal version (me): “Social entrepreneurs build trusted relationships, form partnerships and gain practically useful contacts as a result of being together on the programme”
Real-world: John, who’s working on a project to build trust and improve relationships between neighbours, is now working with two other Y+H SSE students (Jay and Justine: there must be some sort of J cubed or 3J name in the offing) whose work complements his. Namely, a platform is built to get neighbours interacting (by John); recycled PCs (from Jay) enable people to get online more easily; and video stories (by Justine) provide content and evaluation material to demonstrate impact. As John put it, this makes it more of a package that has more value and is easier to sell.
2) Formal version (me again): “SSE gives them the time and space to reflect on what they are doing, in a trusted environment with like-minded people”
Real-world: Mani was talking about how his hip-hop empowerment work in schools had really taken off, and that he was massively busy in the day-to-day. He said that the SSE ‘forced’ him to take a step back, think about what he might have missed or forgotten, and bounce ideas / problems off other people. Otherwise he would have carried on going continuously at 100 mph.
3) Formal version (guess who): “The 18-20 students come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and bring a varied range of experiences, networks, information and skills to the group”
Real world: Chris, who’s just won a couple of awards (see here for more on him and Mani winning awards), and works on fuel poverty and eco-efficiency with housing associations was talking about how he came very much from a commercial business background. It was a chance meeting that led him into the world of social and ethical business, and he’d joined the SSE partly to get “a bit more of the social bit of social entrepreneur”. He added that he’d learned a great deal from people in the group, who he might otherwise never have met or taken time with.
Pleasure to see them and learn a great deal from them too.