Open:2017 Platform Cooperatives

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The 17th century philosopher Spinoza, writing at a time of immense political and religious turbulence, believed that one of the most important political sentiments is hope (so Barack Obama was ploughing a well-worn furrow). As individuals we are relatively weak compared to the cumulative powers of others, but Spinoza said that when we come together through “a common hope” we are strengthened. In these current turbulent times the need to come together has never been more evident.

This is why I am delighted that the Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths is hosting a major conference on cooperation and the collaborative economy, Open:2017 Platform Cooperatives on the 16th -17th February here at Goldsmiths (a few tickets are still available here).

We are hosting this conference because, as a department we champion new approaches to the organisation of economic activity: new business models; new sources of finance; and the consequent need for new forms of organisation and management. In this vein we have, for the last five years, run the MA in Social Entrepreneurship with a highly inclusive remit. Indeed, the Social Enterprise field is so varied that it is small wonder that some commentators feel impelled to talk about it as a zoo.

For us here in ICCE, that zoo very definitely includes cooperatives and we look forward to hearing how platform cooperatives offer a genuine sharing economy alternative to the likes of Uber, AirBnB, other recent forms of platform capitalism and the ‘super-firms’ dominating the global economic landscape and exacerbating global inequality.

Richard Hull, Programme Director, MA Social Entrepreneurship

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Social Enterprise: Which compromises will you make to reach your goals?

Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship

Social Enterprise Lecture Series Autumn 2016

Tuesday 6th December 5.30 (not 5) – 7pm 

Admission is Free; Open To All within and beyond Goldsmiths (No need to book) 

Ray Barron-Woolford

Social Enterprise: Which compromises – political, social, economic – will you make to reach your goals?

  

Ray Barron-Woolford is a multi-award-winning social entrepreneur, author (best known for Food Bank Britain), broadcaster (Talk Radio Europe), campaigner and activist in People Before Profit. He has experience in establishing and running three very different social enterprises. Ray has won several awards including the Pink Paper’s award for the Best UK LGBT Business of the Year, the London Chamber of Commerce’s awards for the Best London Business for Innovation, the best London Business for Customer Service, and was a finalist for the London Business Person of the Year award, and he won the Greenwich Council’s award for Best Greenwich Business for Enterprise. He has also received a medal from the Russian government for his work on Deptford’s heritage

Today’s talk will focus on the possibility of working out a reliable model for social enterprise based on my day-to-day practice and experience of success and failure.

Venue:

Room PSH 326, Professor Stuart Hall Building (Opposite ICCE Office)

Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, SE14 6NW

For Directions to ICCE click here

Click tinyurl.com/zga8v2m for a list of all this Autumn’s speakers

Further enquiries to ICCE Department, A.Kynaston@Gold.ac.uk

or to Dr Richard Hull R.Hull@Gold.ac.uk

 

Tara Anderson & Andrew Curtis (aka Dragonfly Collective) on Post Trump/Brexit

Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship

Social Enterprise Lecture Series Autumn 2016

Tuesday 29th November 5.30 (not 5) – 7pm

Admission is Free; Open To All within and beyond Goldsmiths (No need to book)

Tara Anderson & Andrew Curtis

(Dragonfly Collective @TheDragonflyC ) 

Post Trump & Brexit: the role of Collective Impact & communications in the third sector & beyond 

Tara Anderson’s background is in strategic planning, marketing, public relations, communications and fundraising at executive level in the not-for-profit and social enterprise sector in Australia and the UK. She is the Co-Founder and Director of The Dragonfly Collective. Her passion and career focus is reducing inequality and poverty, particularly through collaborative approaches.

There has been a wave of recent interest in approaches to cross-sector collaboration that deliver systemic social impact. ‘Collective impact’ is one such methodology that has been widely adopted in the USA and is currently emerging in the UK. Tara’s contribution will explore the field of collective impact and the barriers and enablers to delivering it in the UK context, based on research completed for her Masters in Social Innovation dissertation.

Andrew Curtis has supported some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Australia and the UK through executive leadership, Board membership, academic research and lecturing, project design and hands-on service delivery. An original member of the Social Entrepreneurs Network in Australia Andrew has consulted to both government and a range of social enterprises – from the very large to the very small. Andrew has a PhD in hermeneutics and an MBA – combining critical thinking with business models and practice.

Venue:

Room PSH 326, Professor Stuart Hall Building (Opposite ICCE Office)

Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, SE14 6NW

For Directions to ICCE click here

Click tinyurl.com/zga8v2m for a list of all this Autumn’s speakers

Further enquiries to ICCE Department, A.Kynaston@Gold.ac.uk

or to Dr Richard Hull R.Hull@Gold.ac.uk

A Quick Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, Part 2

By Christian Jensen

How does social entrepreneurship relate to various business models?

Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian economist, was one of the first to try and define what he called the entrepreneurial spirit. He believed them to be the driving force of the market, pushing it ever forward and instigating change in their wake. If successful enough they would create “creative destruction” where old ideas when forced with the innovative powers of the entrepreneur either had to adapt or perish. Either way, entrepreneurs were literally the movers and shakers of the market.1

Peter Drucker, another economist from Austria, had a different point of view though. For him the entrepreneur was all about opportunity, a person with the foresight to spot where gaps in the market would form and the courage to take advantage of it. He would also highlight the difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur when it came to opportunity, the former repeating tried and tested business models while the latter would innovate, create new models.2

Gregory Dees takes inspiration from both in his description of what a Social Entrepreneur is, but takes it further3:

“Social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector, by:

• Adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value),

• Recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission,

• Engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning,

• Acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand, and

• Exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.”

But there is of course a difference between the person; the social entrepreneur and the business; the social enterprise. The Social Enterprise Typology by Kim Alter4 has a long list of definitions given by various institutions. To name a few:

The Non-profit Good Practice Guide: “A non-profit venture that combines the passion of a social mission with the discipline, innovation and determination commonly associated with for-profit businesses”

The UK-based Social Enterprise Coalition and the UK Government shares a definition: “A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”

A red thread through these descriptions and many of similar definitions of Social Enterprises is the mix of the profit generating models and skillsets associated with more standard business world and the goals and values commonly attributed to the non-profit, third sector or charitable organisations. A grey zone of hybrid models and compromises between profit and purpose.

In FIG. 1 these two characteristics have been lined up moving from 0 per cent profit and 100 per cent purpose at the top to the reverse at the bottom. A line where Social Entrepreneurs often find themselves fairly solidly in the middle of.

fig 1

FIG. 1 Social value v independent revenue stream spectrum

For a better understanding of how different concepts rate on the spectrum a quick description of a handful of organizational models will be explored starting with activist movements and moving down through the ranks to the more standard business model of pure profit generation.

Social Activism:  

Activist movements, campaigns and voluntary action can have much in common with Social Entrepreneurship such as goals and values. But activism or movements does not always incorporate any business aspect or attempt to gather revenue. One difference which could be highlighted between activism and the other categories further down the spectrum is where entrepreneurs act proactively in creating new solutions; activism is often reactively done in response to social damage caused by other parties. Roger L. Martin & Sally Osberg have defined this relationship further in their article Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition5:

” Instead of taking direct action, as the social entrepreneur would, the social activist attempts to create change through indirect action, by influencing others – governments, NGOs, consumers, workers, etc. – to take action. Social activists may or may not create ventures or organizations to advance the changes they seek. Successful activism can yield substantial improvements to existing systems and even result in a new equilibrium, but the strategic nature of the action is distinct in its emphasis on influence rather than on direct action.”

Charity:

A charity is commonly understood as an organization which is reliant on outside resources, be it philanthropic funders and public donations.  The legal aspects of how and what charities may spend these resources wary from legal system to legal system, but generally states all but a certain per cent used to cover expenses and salaries must be used to further a charitable agenda.

According to the UK charities act of 20066 a “charity” is defined as such:

Meaning of “charity”

For the purposes of the law of England and Wales, “charity” means an institution which is established for charitable purposes only

Meaning of “charitable purpose”

For the purposes of the law of England and Wales, a charitable purpose is a purpose which is for the public benefit

A purpose falls within this subsection if it falls within any of the following

descriptions of purposes—

(a) the prevention or relief of poverty;
(b) the advancement of education;
(c) the advancement of religion;
(d) the advancement of health or the saving of lives;
(e) the advancement of citizenship or community development;
(f) the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;
(g) the advancement of amateur sport;
(h) the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;
(i) the advancement of environmental protection or improvement;
(j) the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
(k) the advancement of animal welfare;
(l) the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown, or of the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services.

Social Venture or Business:

Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammed Yunus is widely considered a pillar of the social enterprise community. He has created a series of “non-loss” businesses across a broad range of markets, the majority of which try to improve the lives of the impoverished and is famous for creating the Grameen Bank service which allows the poor to borrow small amounts, so-called “micro banking.” He himself though makes a distinction between social entrepreneurship and his own model which he explains in his book: Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs.7

The difference in his definition of a social business, often called social ventures elsewhere is where some businesses make a profit by doing good; a social business is the reverse, making revenue to be able to do good. As he states: “A social business is outside the profit-seeking world. Its goal is to solve a social problem using business methods.”

Company created for revenue for survivability:

A company created in balance with the surrounding business community and resource flow, i.e. which only produces enough revenue to cover its own expenses such as employee salaries.  Often started by entrepreneurs in order to become self-sufficient, be in charge of own working hours or move to an area more aligned with the entrepreneur’s personal values and interests.

Can also be the first plateau many entrepreneurial projects aim to arrive at before planning further expansion as explained by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.8

Pure profit generation:

The most commonly known and well understood category of businesses, with success determined by amount of profit generated for its stakeholders and the percentagewise growth of this revenue stream on a yearly basis. No particular social agenda stated and depending on the callousness of its employees may act ruthlessly or destructively in its endeavours. The worst of these examples could be referred to the businesses which revere the “profit is god” model or P.I.G.s.

Often supporters of and supported by the free market model of capitalism covered in depth in Geoff Mulgan’s book: “The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future.”9

Companies with projects that range across categories:

The real world is though almost never as clear black, white and grey as the above spectrum proposes. Many companies have several business strands each with a different task which could wary from each other on the spectrum. Depending on the legal definitions from country to country there also exists many sub- or dual categories which the spectrum does not account for. Some companies engage in charitable acts purely for tax purposes which mean there is a difference between social intent and social impact; some companies may well have one without the other.

The next two chapters will look at these in greater depth, first an attempt to explain what a social intent and social cause may be and then what a social impact may come from a business model, whether intentional or not.

References

  1. 1.       Schumpeter, Joseph 1975 : Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (New York: Harper)
  2. 2.       Drucker , Peter 1995: Innovation & Entrepreneurship (New York: Harper Business)
  3. Dees , Gregory 1998:  The Meaning of  Social Entrepreneurship (Stanford Business School)
  4. Alter, Kim Social enterprise typology http://www.4lenses.org/setypology Retrieved January 11th 2014
  5. Martin,  Roger L. & Sally Osberg 2007:  Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring edition
  6. UK Government Charities act 2006 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/50/resources Retrieved January 11th 2014
  7. Yunus, Muhammed 2011: Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs. (New York: Public Affairs Books)
  8. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2012 Global Report http://www.gemconsortium.org/docs/2645/gem-2012-global-report Retrieved January 11th 2014
  9. Mulgan, Geoff 2013: The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future. Chapter 3, (Princeton: Princeton University Press,)

Interview with Tyler Tornaben – Research and Project Development Assistant at the Yunus Social Business Centre

Tyler is a 2013 MA Social Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, UoL, alumna. To find out about her journey and her super cool job the intrepid team of Golden Angle bloggers tracked her down at the Yunus Centre for Social Business, University of Florence.

What were you up to before you studied at Goldsmiths?

I was based in San Francisco and studying an undergraduate degree in community arts. While studying I worked part-time at creativity explored, a 501c3 social enterprise that worked with disabled artists to export their work locally, nationally and internationally. I was deeply interested and involved with art therapy in general and loved the work, but felt that there were more sustainable means to structure the organisation and therefore started looking at MA programs that might deepen my knowledge of the field. I came across Goldsmiths after looking at grad programs that were involved in community arts, but stumbled open the MA in Social Entrepreneurship site and thought, wow, this is exactly what I’m looking for, but didn’t know it even existed! I ended up falling in love with the Goldsmiths creative mentality combined with some of the skills that an MA in Social Entrepreneurship might provide… I also thought that it would be the best place for my new-found interest in social entrepreneurship because it was the first place to really offer a pure social enterprise MA course.

What were some of the things you felt you got out of doing this MA?

I had never considered myself a researcher before. But Goldsmiths pushed me to become more analytical/critical in considering the field and to innovate in new ways. I became 100% better at research led work, so much so I am now a researcher at the Yunus Center for Social Business at Florence University. I also realised during that time that it could be a potential future for me, as well as realising that it was an essential skill for many kinds of work in the social enterprise field, whether or not I was going to pursue only research.

What was your dissertation about?

I became really interested over the course of the year in women’s empowerment, microfinance and the Grameen Bank model. After doing some deeper research into that field, I discovered that Grameen was expanding into the US, which led me to focus my thesis on reverse innovation, the process by which social innovations spread to unlikely places. In this case I studied the way in which microfinance initiatives that were born out of solving poverty and development needs in the developing world, might be applied to the developed world. We often think of them as separate, whereas in fact there is a lot we can learn from the innovations that are created in order to tackle poverty, since we do in fact struggle with many of the same structural issues. The notion of poverty alleviation really does apply everywhere and my dissertation supported that when looking at Grameen  America vs. Grameen Bangladesh.

Super interesting! So what did that lead to?

Thanks! Well, after my research I was excited by the idea of more research-based work. I was visiting my family in Italy and stumbled upon the Yunus Centre. I had no idea that Italy had such a reputable research centre for social business! So I was thrilled and I sent them an email. A few weeks later I started working with them!

Amazing! So what are you working on right now?

Half of the time I’m doing social innovation research in general, covering many similar topics from my year with Goldsmiths. And the other part of my job is in developing a social entrepreneurship curriculum for overseas study abroad students from universities all over Europe and the U.S. So I’m constantly challenged both to utilize my research skills and my creativity, which I love!

And what next?

We shall see! I am currently thinking of pursuing a PHD program. Something I never thought I’d do but after this job and my time with Goldsmiths, I would love to continue my research in a university setting. Otherwise, I am excited to further continue my career in the social enterprise and development field working with innovative research centres like the Yunus Social Business Centre University of Florence.

To keep up with Tyler’s groundbreaking research you can follow her on Twitter @TylerTornaben