Launch of the Code

Launch of the Code
Laurence Demarco

8 out of 10 people in Scotland vote for a left of centre party; it is hardly surprising therefore that taking soundings around the country over the past 4 years – we find an appetite for a definition of SE which differentiates it more clearly from private gain. Most people are of the view that the SE Mark sets the bar too low.

The most successful social entrepreneur globally is arguably Muhammad Yunus – founder of Grameen Bank and other social businesses. His definition of the relationship between SE and private business is unequivocal. “Unless you make this total delinking from personal financial gain – you’ll never discover the power of real SE”.

On his recent visit to Scotland, I went to hear Yunus speak; he won’t budge on the payment of any dividend – but he repeatedly stressed that this is only his belief – that others have different beliefs and models. Co-operatives, CICs and Community share issues are 3 quick examples of successful proven models which pay dividends.

In so far as these different business structures promote social fairness and environmental protection, we are all part of the same cause – part of a growing alternative economics which can potentially change the way society operates. The Code asserts that we are different from private business – but we sit comfortably as part of the wider social economy.

So the Scottish Code is launched in this spirit – that our zero dividend model is one among many – which presently operate around the world and which will continue to be invented. Ours is a voluntary self regulating Code – we have set down our understanding of the values and behaviours by which SEs in Scotland wish to recognise each other.

The prevailing view, we believe, is that (in Yunus’s words), “ The real power of SE can only be unlocked by the total delinking of personal gain from the social mission”. If we’ve got the vibe wrong – the Code will simply disappear. But if we`ve got it right, the Code will spread – and could help consolidate Scotland as a world leader in social enterprise.