Never more important, never more misunderstood

Two interesting stories are flagged up in the Social Enterprise Coalition’s media monitor service. The first, in Social Enterprise Magazine, reports Nick Hurd’s speech at last night’s RBS SE100 Awards ceremony, in which he said that the country needs jobs, solutions to stubborn, expensive problems, and ‘community builders who can help communities shape solutions’ — that’s why you are so important, he said to an audience of around 150 social entrepreneurs.

The other is in Start-Ups Online, and this reports on new research just published by O2 and Social Enterprise Magazine which indicates that over half the population ‘misunderstands’ social enterprise, wrongly believing that the sector derives most of its income from grants and donations rather than trading. The study also revealed that 70% of people assume that social enterprises will be doing worse in the current economic climate than conventional businesses — whereas over half have improved their performance during the recession.

So there you have it. The sector has never been more important — and never more widely misunderstood. Which makes it even more critical that we get our key messages sorted out, decide who most needs to hear them, and integrate them clearly into our marketing…

  1. Charles Rapson Reply

    Sorry to disagree but I remain of the opinion that promoting a ‘concept’, which is what we would be doing with promoting the concept of “Social Enterprise”, is a near impossible and expensive task.

    The best approach in my experience is to develop a range of quality products, services and solutions that people want to buy. It’s what successful companies have always done. In doing so, our customers get the added value of “supporting something worthwhile”. What that added value is will differ from SE to SE.

    I think its time to stop debating and get on with delivering the goods.

    I’m saying this with some confidence as our trading income has increased almost 3 fold in the past few months through a focus on the customer and the products and services we offer. On both our enterprises – Waterloo Woodwork and Colebridge Communications we have secured our two biggest orders yet.

    Proof. Pudding. Eating

    For example, our latest venture http://www.exhibitionbus.org

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Yes, good point, Charles, and I agree. It has to be about the quality and usefulness of products/services first and foremost.

  2. Simon Lee Reply

    I agree with Charles in that I think the best advert for the sector, whether nationally or locally, is successful sociial enterprises which deliver what they are being asked to do.

    I would hope that such enterprises already do put the ‘key messages’ out there as often as possible about trading, social / environmental purpose, and social use of surplus, but (if not) they should be!

    In parallel with this, though, there is still a place for sharing with people the concept of social enterprise and would hope that this can be done without costing too much.

    I think it is ‘both … and’ not ‘either … or’.

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