Socio-economic change is a slow process, especially when it requires an era changing shift in political orthodoxy.
It is now 17 years since the first national conference on social enterprise, the Social Enterprise Coalition, was launched to an atmosphere of enthusiasm for a new progressive, potentially transformative, movement.
There was also scepticism about the prospect of that movement ever attracting the capital to match the ambition.
For years the sceptics had little apparent reason to change their view, despite continuing sector-based enthusiasm. Even within the past two years prominent Government advisers have declared Social Enterprise a past phenomenon, but that failed to observe progress at ground-level and a steady shift towards Social Finance becoming a complementary new phenomenon.
Social Enterprise is a clear answer to a series of connected post-capitalist questions, most especially in public services. It exists now in commercial scale form, with pioneer public benefit organisations turning-over £10-£200 million, alongside a multitude of smaller social businesses. Stone King works in partnership with a group of CEOs of such pioneering mature Social Enterprises, through E3M.
That’s why Stone King is dedicated to the consolidation of Social Finance as a distinct progressive and transformative discipline and the ultimate triumph of the enthusiasm over the scepticism.
Social enterprises demonstrate what for years political orthodoxy could not understand – that:
- a purpose driven business can be at least as efficient at a profit driven corporation;
- collaboration can support local development as much as market competition;
- public benefit Social Value should be embraced, as a powerful economic force, alongside private shareholder value; and
- people are motivated by collective interest as well as personal interest.
In public services certainly and increasingly in wider consumer services and goods, social purpose, outcomes and impact provide methodologies for addressing real needs and expectations. That makes for good business and sound investable propositions.