The Purpose Prize and silver social entrepreneurs

Had you ever heard of the Purpose Prize? No, me neither. What a great name, btw. It is a prize for "Americans leading with experience", or, more prosaically:

The Purpose Prize awards $100,000 to each of five people over
60 who are taking on society’s biggest challenges. It’s for those with
the passion and experience to discover new opportunities, create new
programs, and make lasting change.

Which basically means they give £50k to five social entrepreneurs over 60. Check out the finalists here, or read a piece in the Wall Street Journal, which covers the prize and features four of the finalists. Inspiring people, inspiring change, as the SSE strapline would say.

What is interesting for me is that when politicians and our sector fellows talk about "encouraging new entrants" to social entrepreneurship and social enterprise, they talk (for 99% of the time) about young people, entrepreneurship in schools, marginalised groups and so on….so rarely have I ever heard anyone raise the issue of the ever-growing, talented, skilled and passionate older population who are entering retirement not to relax but often with a renewed sense of purpose. As the article in WSJ puts it:

"The prize highlights the emergence of innovative altruism among
older Americans. In a survey of 1,000 people age 50 to 70 that Civic Ventures
commissioned last year, nearly three in five of those in their 50s said they
wanted to use the next stage of their lives to improve the quality of life in
their communities."

Is the UK any different? No. SSE has several Fellows over 50 who’ve completed its programmes, and it is a trend I envision increasing. I look forward to the first Purpose Prize UK….

[info via Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum and the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship ]


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