Ten Minutes with… Karen Darby, founder of CrowdMission
The Guardian, By Charlotte Seager
What changes do you think have occured and how do you expect the sector to progress in five years’ time?
There’s a greater awareness of social business now – there’s more support for it than there ever was, and I think there’s a greater understanding of what entrepreneurship can actually bring.
The old model for social entrepreneurship was that profit was a dirty word and that any money you made as a social entrepreneur had to be ploughed back into the business – and I think there’s a bit of a hangover for that type of thinking still in the industry – but I’m finding more and more now that the people I’m meeting are setting up for-profit ventures that are incorporated as companies limited by shares, not limited by guarantee.
And, if you’re going to work hard setting up a business that you’re passionate about and that contributes to society, why shouldn’t you get some reward back for it as well? So I think there is a change with people seeing that you can actually crave money and create a business that’s profitable, rewards it’s shareholders and management teams, and at the same time contributes positively to society.
The second thing is access to equity funding. Before many companies were set up as social enterprises which were profit-generating but had asset locks or didn’t distribute profits – and they certainly didn’t have exit strategies, because the only exit strategy they had was to go bust. I think that’s a naive type of thinking and that it’s changing in the sector. People are looking at social enterprises as a viable business plan that is investable – and that’s certainly where CrowdMission comes in.