British experiences in the field of social entrepreneurship
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British Experiences in the field of Social Entrepreneurship. John Bromley Executive Director – National Social Marketing Centre. A Biography. Director of the National Social Marketing Centre Public health background Works with social e nterprises in the health sector

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British Experiences in the field of Social Entrepreneurship

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British Experiences in the field of Social Entrepreneurship

John Bromley

Executive Director – National Social Marketing Centre

A Biography

  • Director of the National Social Marketing Centre

  • Public health background

  • Works with social enterprises in the health sector

  • Worked with the British Council on researching the social enterprise sector in South-east Europe

What are Social Enterprises?

  • There is no concrete definition! (-in the UK)

  • Huge variety of types/organisational models

  • “Social Enterprise Sector”


  • Often driven by a social/environmental mission

  • They can be “profit making”

  • Combine revenue generation with social/environmental value generating structure or component

  • Many businesses have a social component, however, for social enterprises this is usually central to what they do!

Their main purpose

  • “generate profit to further social and environmental goals”

  • Charity shops

  • Employing disadvantaged people

  • Lending to businesses outside formal sector

So are they charities?

  • As a rule of thumb their income is derived from business trading rather than subsidy or donations.

  • Compromise the more businesslike end of the spectrum of organisations that make up the “third sector” or “social economy”

In Britain

  • Community Enterprises

  • Credit Unions

  • Trading arms of charities

  • Employee-owned businesses

  • Co-operatives

  • Housing Associations

Welsh Water.

  • Welsh Water single purpose company has no shareholders

  • Any financial surpluses are retained for the benefit of customers

  • Surpluses increase credit worthiness and reduce cost of borrowing

  • Customer Dividend - £22.00 from the bill

Big Issue – “a hand up not a hand out”

Designed to support homeless and vulnerable people a chance to earn a legitimate income

Sellers – buy for 75p and sell for £1.50

Confidence and self esteem

Link vendors with vital support services, housing health and financial independence

Fifteen – “Inspiring young people”

  • Inspire disadvantaged people to create great careers in the restaurant business

  • Serve food of the highest quality

  • Apprentices learn the trade and profits fund the programme

  • Aim to become a “Global” Social Enterprise

  • LEYF is London's largest childcare charity and social enterprise

  • Established in 1903, it now employs over 200 staff across 19 community nurseries and Children’s Centres in three key London boroughs.

  • Thanks to the socially inclusive fee structure, last year they were able to help more than 1200 children from a range of backgrounds make a great start in life – parents pay what they can afford!

The Bread Maker - Aberdeen

21 Apprentices with learning disabilities

8 staff training and supporting to provide confectionary, breads and coffees

Looking to provide skills so apprentices can take work in other businesses in the city

In the United Kingdom

  • 15,000 social enterprises

  • 1.2% of all enterprises in the UK

  • Employ 450,000 people + 300,000 volunteers

  • £18 Billion combined annual turnover

  • 84% from trading

Three Common Characteristics

  • Enterprise orientation- viable trading organisations with an operating surplus

  • Social/environmental aims and ethical values

  • Social Ownership – governance structures based on participation or trustees, profits used for the benefit of the “community”

British Council Research into Social Entrepreneurs

  • “I’m not working in the charity sector its primarily a business with a social conscience”

  • Highly motivated, committed and driven individuals

  • Deep and committed relationship with the sector they are working in

  • Often in sectors not traditionally served – highly innovative and often “risk takers”

“Types of Social Entrepreneur”

  • Existing Established businessmen – “giving something back”

  • Individuals with a social conscience

  • Agents for Change - environmental/social sector

  • Bottom of the Pyramid “entrepreneurs”

  • Background - Health and social care service sector

Serbia – potential Social entrepreneurs

  • Identification of potential/actual social entrepreneurs operating

  • Questions

    • Would social enterprise work here and in what sectors?

    • What are the barriers to setting up social enterprises

    • What activities could help develop social entrpreneurs?

Results - attitudes

  • Very limited understanding of what social enterprises are

  • The majority of people felt there were few examples – even people operating social enterprises didn’t think they were social entrepreneurs!

  • They were very keen on the idea of setting up social enterprises and saw a need for such organisations in the region

  • Confusion on “social” – “socialist”

What would help?

  • Lack of knowledge – a key barrier

  • Wide range of information on social enterprises required

  • Getting the Government onboard considered essential

  • Legal framework – but not too tight, constraining growth

  • Access to “start-up” up funding (not necessarily from government)

  • Mentoring would be critical

  • Practical advice/workshops – “How to” – didn’t want the theory!

How can the British Council help?

  • Didn’t consider that the British Council would be a natural partner and so therefore wouldn’t naturally look for help from the organisation

  • Assistance would be welcome but needed to be targeted and accessible

  • Practical business information – sound advice, legal frameworks, finance, HR, market analysis, mentoring

Conclusion – what we needed at the National Social Marketing Centre

  • Practical information – in one place – “one stop shop”

  • Mentoring – “social entrepreneurs - advice and support

  • Awareness Campaign – what social enterprise is and what it isn’t.

  • Clarification of the legal, administrative and financial framework

  • How to move from where we are now to a “social enterprise”

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