Social Enterprise: UK leading the way in this important emerging sector – Part Two

Everyclick has previously highlighted that social enterprises are growing in the UK. During his IoF speech, Mike Rowlands of Octopus Strategies acknowledged this, and explained that social enterprise is a far more established business sector here than it is in the United States. However, that’s changing.

The US is starting to see a flow of expertise from the business sector into the non-profit community—particularly as ‘baby boomers’ retire from their corporate jobs and look to ‘give back’ to causes they value.  At the other end of the spectrum, businesses are becoming more values driven, as they wrestle with adoption of fair trade policies, management of their environmental impact, and with corporate social responsibility in general. Mike suggests that social enterprise lies at the meeting point of these two trends, effectively knitting together “the value of business with this business of values.” Mike highlights that social enterprises are effectively contributing to solutions to complex problems.

To illustrate this, Mike drew on examples from organisations supported by the ‘Enterprising Non-Profits’ programme, a collaboration of eight funding bodies in Western Canada that are promoting social enterprise practices. One area that they have focused on is Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, which is the poorest postal code in Canada, and a neighbourhood scarred by poverty and a significant illicit drug trade. A social enterprise called Potluck Cafe was established to create employment opportunities for disadvantaged people in the area. The cafe has become extremely successful and has set up many different programmes to help people in the community. For example, the Community Kitchen Program teaches residents basic cooking and nutrition skills.

Everyclick and the Potluck Cafe are prime examples of how focused social enterprises are making a significant difference to people’s lives and we hope that the UK will continue to thrive in this area of business.