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]

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3 thoughts on “Will a new toolbelt help social entrepreneurs?

  1. Well, from the quick look I’ve had so far I agree that it’s not the most obvious vehicle for bringing “a grassroots practitioner perspective to the fore”
    And, just in terms of format, it’s not the kind of place you’d really send new social entrepreneurs looking plan, start, manage and grow social enterprises. I’m not sure they’d find what they want – in terms of specific, practical information – quicker on this site quicker than they’d find it through Google.
    It’s potentially a useful resource for the growing numbers of students who are studying social enterprise and may be wanting to read round the subject, though.

  2. Thanks for taking time to check out the site. seToolbelt’s strategy was first to collect resources that are currently available, then to build the library from that point forward. We are now actively seeking partners to submit just the kind of practical, hands-on resources you are talking about here, especially from diverse, international perspectives. Help us make the site better by submitting any resources you have or find that are practitioner-driven and useful!

  3. Thanks Caroline. We will do so, and also emphasise the importance not only of resources but in assistance and advice with implementation.