I don’t care, I’m having a moan!

It’s been one of those weeks so, without any apology or naming names, I’m going to have a moan!

I’m fed up of finding examples of organisations that promote the idea of supporting local businesses or social enterprises or even the local flipping sheriff, who then go and do the exact opposite when it comes to web, print, park benches, video or anything else we supply and buy from a supplier outside the locality or outside the sector.

Come on folk, practice what you preach or, at the very least, give us a shot at the business!

As you can tell, we didn’t get the business I was hoping for from a certain “we are committed to supporting local business, believe in the value of social enterprise” outfit. Didn’t even get to sniff it. Straight out to a private sector organisation that’s not even close to being local.

There, I feel better for that and its not aimed at you – that is unless you are a social enterprise that’s just bought something from a private sector organisation in Outer Mongolia that a social enterprise just around the corner could supply!

Have a nice day

Charles Grumpy Rapson

Colebridge Communications

Waterloo Woodwork


  1. Alun Severn Reply

    You have a moan, Charles, and get it off your chest.

    Unfortunately, we can’t legislate for hypocrisy. Mind you, if anyone has any bright ideas about ways that this might be addressed in marketing methods/approaches it would be interesting to hear them…

  2. Ben Parkinson Reply

    I think that our world is sprinkled with people that really understand the benefit of social enterprise, some of the remainder are told they must embrace the concept and wondering how this fits with their actual views and the remainder are still living in the Thatcher years.

    It’s a bit unrealistic of us right now to imagine that every large organisation that preaches the former, mostly without a newly-designed procurement policy, has a workforce singing from one hymnsheet. The people with the purse strings notoriously have a very large say in what money is spent on too and cautious accountants are rarely the early adopters we would like them to be.

    When the Labour party came into power with Tony Blair, he made the politics more palatable to the British public, who thought that they could handle this slightly lukewarm politics that he was offering, where other leaders around the world were taking a more radical approach. I am not commenting on whether this approach has been beneficial to our country or not, as I really have no idea, but what I am saying is that I don’t believe that “lukewarm” social enterprise is very helpful. Diluted values, people joining a social enterprise bandwagon because they are told to, not because they understand why, feels wrong, when social enterprise impacts on people’s lives. By compromising on the core elements of social enterprise we might end up reaching a point where every enterprise is a social enterprise, but will we really have moved very far at all?

    Already there has been criticism levelled at interest rates given by microcredit organisations and it won’t be long before the tarnish of commercial organisations corrupts at least one or two high profile social enterprises here in the UK, unless every member of their organisation truly understands its core values.

  3. Charles Rapson Reply

    All good points Ben but – and I’m still not naming names – but the organisation in question in my case really SHOULD have known better.

  4. Pete Millington Reply

    A great post by Charles which rings bells for many of us and one or two glaringly ironic and heart sinking examples spring to mind personally, though I’d best not go there! But it is a bit more complex than just social enterprise purchasing from social enterprise, as a disability equality charity for instance we often procure things like training from disabled people working as freelancers, though their business model won’t necessarily be a social enterprise but I guess there is an obvious ethical reason for us to support a disabled person setting out in business or self employment. The Consortium approach of third sector groups giving each other the secret handshake seems one solution, but the trouble is when each of us potentially belongs to a plethora of different consortia the loyalties start to get confusing. I’ve been in rooms recently where you look around and realise your organisation belongs to 4 or 5 differnet networks and consortia who have potential to be competing for the same work. Would a skill trading consortium work, I know we still all need to earn hard cash, but perhaps some things could be exchanged through a token trading system? I.e. You carry out our research or advise us on our HR policies and we’ll do your access audit? I hope I don’t sound completely naieve!!

  5. Charles Rapson Reply

    Reducing costs are as valuable as increasing income and a Skills Exchange is not a bad way of doing that – and no VAT to pay 😎

    It will work for some more than others and it’s imperfect. I could give Marketing Advice in return for something I can’t do but then Spot On Marketing might be peeved as that’s their bread & butter.

    There is no escape from the fact that, whatever sector you are in, we are in a competitive world. Money is tight, we all need it and so the bun fight begins.

    All I’m asking for is that we do what we say and practice what we preach. As Social Enterprises, we should at least give others in the same sector – and other worthwhile enterprises such as the examples Pete gives – the option of quoting for our business. We should do it with some enthusiasm too and not as an afterthought.

    Ultimately it will be a matter of do you provide the best value product and/or service against other competitors that determines if you get the work. There is no getting away from that.

    We will compete aggressively for business against other private, public and social enterprises. And, in all truth, with more aggression than I did in the private sector because I have much more commitment to the community we support than I did to fat shareholders

    C’set la vie

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