State your purpose

This post raises lots of interesting points. Liam Black’s point about Grameen’s success in a country where there is no effective state is well made but it doesn’t necessarily explain what social enterprises should do in a country such as the UK where – in a comparative sense – there is an effective state.

Black is right that social enterprises shouldn’t expect eternal grants and subsidies from the government just because they’re nice people trying to do good things but the relationships between government agencies and social enterprises are more complicated than that.

I reckon the fact that the UK government can comfortably provide the basics of existence for its citizens without necessarily needing the help of social enterprises is a good thing but it does mean that both the useful role of social enterprise and the relationship between social enterprise and the state is fundamentally different to the role of social enterprise in Bangladesh. Leaving us with the question of what that role and that relationship should be.

While I’ve got a good idea of the answers from the point of view of my own social enterprise, I think the general answer is currently unclear. In fact, it’s a political issue that’s likely to resonate beyond ‘the social enterprise movement’ in 2010.

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