What social enterprise will look like in 2020

What social enterprise will look like in 2020
The British Council
January 2014


Social enterprise advisor for the British Council Juliet Cornford presented the summit with a vision of social enterprise in the year 2020. Her speech was based on a British Council report.


The report states that ‘the economic and political climate is forcing all but the smallest, volunteer-led organisation to consider service delivery contracts or other forms of earned income streams’. It concludes: ‘By 2020 almost all charities and associations will be somewhere on the ‘social enterprise spectrum’ – generating some if not all of their income through trading activities.’


Cornford shared a quote she liked from the Europe 2020 report, which was published by the European Commission: “Recovery cannot be based as a business as usual approach; simply going back to the way things worked before the (financial) crisis is not possible."


She pointed out the different challenges facing the continent; from how to care for an ageing population and how to offer affordable childcare for an ever growing workforce, to how to find responses to climate change and dwindling resources.


By 2020 most grant aided charitable organisations will look like social enterprises, as a large part of their income will be from earned income
According to Cornford, this presents an opportunity for social enterprise. She pointed out that 19 European countries have some kind of legal status for social ventures now and that the EU issued directives for procurement from such organisations last year.


Cornford’s speech generated a palpable ripple of excitement amongst the audience. “By 2020 most grant aided charitable organisations will look like social enterprises, as a large part of their income will be from earned income.


“All organisations will be categorised by their ability to deliver a social return on investment, blurring the boundaries between social and private enterprises. By 2020, many organisations will produce an annual impact statement, allowing society to better judge organisations, meaning social enterprises will no longer be able to claim they are better than private enterprises.


“Governments will be contracting, rather than delivering services, demanding better value for money. There will be growth in payment by results, social good for minimum financial output will be the norm and private enterprise will be doing this better than many social enterprises.


“Growth in social lending and trust in social enterprises, with their roots in poor communities, will offer bank accounts and loans to those that are otherwise excluded,” Cornford concluded.


As an example of the influence she thought social enterprise has had on business, the British Council advisor offered up Innocent Drinks, “the number one chilled brand juice in Germany, Austria and Denmark".


Cornford pointed out that Innocent is now owned by Coca-Cola, who have scaled the brand to become a market leader. Innocent give 10% of their profits to charity – around £2.4m to date. She finished by leaving the audience with a question: “Is 10% enough?”