Craig Dearden-Phillips: from 50 voices: what does social enterprise meant to you?
managing director, Stepping Out
Social enterprise is a term contested between two groups – ‘Cultists’ and ‘Big-Tenters’. Cultists narrow it to business purely for social purpose with little or no private benefits. Big-Tenters’ see a social enterprise as ANY business that tries to create a significant and measurable social impact alongside making money for its owners.
For Big Tenters, keeping the social enterprise brand to the tiny number of UK businesses whose leaders and investors can afford to take big risks for scant personal rewards is daft. There will never, ever be enough of those types of entrepreneurs and investors around – people without dependents, the very rich, the affluent retired – anyone, really, without the immediate need to think too hard about money.
No, for social enterprise to move from the margins of UK society to the mainstream, it needs to become a a Big Tent full of progressive people who want to use their businesses and investment both to make money for themselves and make a big social impact too. Otherwise it remains a cult, not a proper movement.