Social Stock Exchange opens

Yesterday’s Third Sector Online carried a story about  the launch of the Social Stock Exchange. Read Third Sector’s full  coverage.

The SSE will not be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (which some may say is just as well, given the FSA’s track record in helping to prevent either the banking crisis or the sub-prime mortgages scandal) and will therefore not offer ‘trades’. Rather, it will be a ‘shop window’ for social enterprises that are seeking ‘social impact’ funding from investors.

But to do this, social enterprises will have to undertake a social impact audit and report, which will cost about £8,000. There is some suggestion in Third Sector’s coverage that the BIG Lottery may launch a programme which will help the first social enterprises seeking SSE listing with the costs of this reporting.

The SSE’s initial development was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, but it also has, it says, the active support of international banks and foundations, such as J.P.Morgan, Prudential, Deutsche Bank, Triodos Bank, UBS, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Doen Foundation, Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

If I had to try and model a possible solution to some of the most pressing problems faced by social enterprises, I’m not sure it would look like the SSE. Yes, access to appropriate finance is certainly an issue — at least for some. But solutions like the SSE are clearly aimed at the biggest and most profitable and mark what looks like an increasingly desperate attempt by investment intermediaries to unlock new markets for investment.

Or am I being impossibly short-sighted, here?

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