The week began with Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg officially opening social tech accelerator Wayra UnLtd, giving social enterprise a much needed #cleggup. The opening was followed by a Q+A in which he was lightly grilled like a courgette about a range of things, most obviously tuition fees. There he pledged not to raise tuitions fees to £16,000 p.a. as has been mooted by the Oxford Uni VC. Thankfully he stopped short of holding up a signed pledge, ‘cos that would be a pretty daft thing to do.
Social entrepreneurship and its fanfare had to take a back seat, possibly because a lot of people don’t understand it. Forty-seven per cent of us in fact, according to research by Yougov. This has prompted someone to unilaterally decide that we need another certification scheme for social enterprise (which in turn makes you realise how many other people have unilaterally decided to authenticate social enterprises). It remains to be seen whether or not it will work, but given that less than 450 social enterprises have used its main competitor Social Enterprise Mark, the thought occurred to me to hold up a signed pledge saying what I thought, but then I realised that would be a pretty daft thing to do.
Speaking of things no one knows about, did you know that this week was Ethical Investment week and also host to Credit Union day? You more than likely came across the latter without realising it, as it was the day the Labour party announced plans to impose a levy on payday lenders to support the growth of credit unions. And as for the former, the most eye-catching announcement was of a £1m funding for low carbon businesses.
Also this week the RSA and RBS launched their Manifesto for Youth Enterprise, which provides a range of principles for promoting and supporting youth entrepreneurship, increasingly seen as one solution to the youth employment crisis. The report is very interesting, with a really interesting debate at the launch event. The governments enterprise advisor Lord Young was there, grounding the conversation by highlighting how many of the principles put forward in this Manifesto were also suggested by him 30 years ago, yet they still haven’t been enacted. Hopefully this time things will be different, though I won’t be holding up a signed pledge on that, because that would be a pretty daft thing to do.
It also doesn’t help that this was the same Social Mobility Guru Alan Milburn released his report saying that work is no longer a guaranteed way of getting out of poverty.
Finally, eBay tycoon Pierre Omidyar and NSA-botherer Glenn Greenwald are to join forces to set up a new News agency. The venture is going to be funded through the impact investment foundation the Omidyar Network, which usually supports entrepreneurial endeavours in developing countries, most of which create social impact. Speaking about the venture Pierre said “What kind of social impact could be created if [an]….investment was made in something entirely new, built from the ground up”, overlooking the fact that this is what his network already does. But he qualified that statement by adding “Something that I would be personally and directly involved in outside of my other efforts as a philanthropist”. While it remains to be seen what the social impact is of such an enterprise, I feel reasonably confident it won’t be tackling corporate tax evasion, though I won’t be holding up a signed pledge on that, because that would be a pretty daft thing to do.