Open:2017 Platform Cooperatives


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


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.


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 for a list of all this Autumn’s speakers

Further enquiries to ICCE Department,

or to Dr Richard Hull


A quick introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, Part 1


This article series will attempt to briefly sum up several Social Entrepreneurship terms and definitions in a simple structure which can be used by academics and businesspersons without prior knowledge of the topics alike.

Being a comparatively young concept there has yet to emerge a clear shared language of frameworks and theories among practitioners and researchers. Depending on professional or academic circles the terms may have different names and characteristics, if they are precisely coined or social entrepreneurship itself even known about. While this will most likely consolidate in the future as more time and research are devoted to it, for now there is often overlap or contradictions between theories.

This creates confusion both in- and outside the social entrepreneurship community, understandably since it can be difficult to define what social entrepreneurship is, business theory, social science or something third, and its academic theories touching on many subjects at once such as economics, sociology, politics and psychology to name a few.

This confusion can make it difficult for outsiders to understand or implement the ideas which Social Entrepreneurship offers. Even if a businessperson wishes to use or learn more, for example how their own business relates to a social enterprise model, the sometimes conflicting explanations or lack of a clear description can be a strong deterrent.

  • This article series will try to present a step-by-step explanation of Social Entrepreneurship and its relation to the classic idea of business. Afterwards it will then attempt to combine the definitions given by using three existing companies as examples on how different business models are categorized by Social Entrepreneurship.
  • The second part will define what Social Entrepreneurship is and the types of companies which can or cannot be called social enterprises. They will be categorized on a sliding scale of resources devoted to social causes versus profit generation, from charities to the more common definition of a company.
  • Thirdly  it will attempt to define the aspect of the problems which the social enterprises or companies state to attempt to solve. This will be set in the context of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, ranging from the more basic issues of human survival such as disease and hunger to the realization of human potential such as education or civil liberties.
  • Fourthly it will explain the differences in efficiency of the stated goals on a scale ranging from patch solutions, i.e. temporary alleviation of detrimental effects to projects aiming to combat the root causes of problems.
  • Fifthly it will then define the different types of value created by each method, how directly it affects a given target or community and how one effect further create value in other, sometimes unexpected, areas. This last chapter will also explain how companies which have no stated social purpose can still create, or claim to create, social value.
  • Finally, as mentioned above, all these terms will then be demonstrated and explained in combination by categorizing and defining three different types of companies, their stated goals and the final value created by each.

Interview with Daisy – MA Social Entrepreneurship 2014

298001_1919875009780_1224136764_nWhere are you from and what did you do before coming to Goldsmiths?

I’m Irish, but I grew up in the US. I studied Development at the University of East Anglia. After graduating I worked for a social Enterprise in Swaziland called Tintsaba Craft. We worked with rural weavers and exported their products overseas to Fairtrade buyers. I was in charge of business development as well as the management of literacy and education projects, which I started.

Why did you chose social entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths?

After studying development and working in Swaziland I felt the old models of aid weren’t working and that social entrepreneurship is a more sustainable model for addressing social failures, especially in the developing world. In Swaziland there aren’t many alternative views on how to develop poverty reduction strategies, so I wanted to equip myself with the knowledge and ability to bring new thinking to Swaziland. I also wanted to return to London to build my networks in Social Entrepreneurship in the UK and be part of a dynamic environment. Goldsmiths social entrepreneurship is at the centre of the UK scene so it seemed like a natural choice.

Why Goldsmiths?

I really liked the fact that Goldsmiths is well known for its creativity and felt that being part of that environment would be an added value while studying social enterprise. Especially because I’m interested in artisan based enterprise the last organisation I worked with was very creative in nature.

What have you enjoyed about the course?

Firstly, I love being part of a diverse learning environment with so many different views and life experiences. So many of my classmates have real social enterprise experience and bring that wealth of knowledge to the program. Secondly, I’ve really enjoyed the entrepreneurial modelling class because it’s given me some hard skills in business planning that I can use in future roles. And thirdly we’ve had the space to develop our theoretical and conceptual understanding of social enterprise and social innovation.