Mythbusting – Social enterprises are inherently innovative

Is there something about social enterprises that means they’re the best settings for innovation? Here’s the second of my exciting mythbusting columns for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.


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2 responses to “Mythbusting – Social enterprises are inherently innovative

  1. jeffmowatt

    David, Here’s a blog about the Clinton speech I mentioned in the Guardian. My comment , posted there a month ago and still ‘awaiting moderation’.

    My comment
    “In something of a parallel experience it was Bill Clinton who was introduced in 1996 to a new economic paradigm with a white paper on people-centered economic development.

    In 2007, Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye launched the Smart Power Initiative though some years earlier in 2003 this call may be found in an economic development proposal for the repatriated Tatars of Crimea:

    “Just as the US now heavily uses smart bombs in warfare, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the equivalent is needed in aid efforts. It is not enough to spend, say, US$ 7 million dollars for five Tomahawk cruise missiles and then spend a fraction of that amount in building a peaceful community which does not merit targeting by missiles. Yet, that is what we have in this case. ”

    The ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine, published online in 2007, set out a strategy for microeconomic development which advocated using the amount of funding then deployed each week in Iraq to help lift millions out of poverty. It was followed in 2008 with a reminder to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations which ended::

    “Thank you for your time and attention to this. I and others will look forward to hearing from you. I hope we continue to realize ever more fully that outside the box and inside the box have only a box in the way. We outside the box know quite a bit of what’s going on, many times in exquisite detail, perhaps in ways that those inside the box can’t quite as easily access if at all. We are grossly underfunded in favor of missiles, bombs, and ordnance, which is about 100% backwards. Now, with even the US Pentagon stating that they’ve learned their lesson in Iraq and realize (so says top US general in Iraq ten days or so ago) that winning hearts and minds is the best option, I and others shall continue to think positive and look for aid budgets and funding spigots to be opened much more for people and NGOs in silos, foxholes and trenches, insisting on better than ordnance, and who understand things and how to fix them. We can do that. We can even do it cost-effectively and with far better efficiency than the ordnance route. Welcome to our brave new world. Except it’s not so new: learn to love and respect each other first, especially the weakest, most defenseless, most voiceless among us, then figure out the rest. There aren’t other more important things to do first. This message has been around for at least two thousand years. How difficult is it for us to understand?”

    In 2008 the core argument from the paper delivered to Clinton was published as a manifesto for people-centered economics and this was presented to the International Economics for Ecology Conference in 2010.

    The same year, David Cameron was called on in a petition to support pioneers of this alternative to capitalism, in efforts to tackle the problems of childcare in Ukraine. This problem recently featured in a Channel 4 documentary where Marcel Theroux asked why more wasn’t being done.

    In 2012, EU Commissioner Michel Barnier was reminded of a submission to the 2008 EU Citizens Consultation in which many aspects of the Social Business Initiative had already been described to them.

    He responded in a letter to Euro MP Sir Graham Watson, claiming he was unaware of this work but hoped we could collaborate in future.”


  2. jeffmowatt

    Yesterday’s Q&A on Social Enterprise and universities was a classic example of how pointless all this discussion is. I described how we’d worked with 2 universities and a physics institute to create a proposal for a social enterprise education centre in Ukraine.

    In the Sustainable Business silo, not long ago I asked Mark Kramer, whether his view on Creating Shared Value that corporations could profit from solving social problems, might take on board a business in which profit was deployed toward a social purpose, rather than returning it to private hands.

    I’d offered the example of our primary focus of disabled children in Ukraine which seem to be something of a threat, getting several of my comments removed and blocked from making further comment.

    Just this week, a 90 minute BBC4 documentary on Ukraine’s Forgotten Children exposed what we’d been howled down over. Even here on you blog comments, I’d read how there was a lot of negative comment about us on the internet, from an ’eminence grise’.

    ‘The term “social enterprise” in the various but similar forms in which it is being used today — 2008 — refers to enterprises created specifically to help those people that traditional capitalism and for profit enterprise don’t address for the simple reason that poor or insufficiently affluent people haven’t enough money to be of concern or interest. Put another way, social enterprise aims specifically to help and assist people who fall through the cracks. Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not.’

    Who’s next for being ignored to death?


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