It all feels a bit doom and gloom at the moment. David Cameron will tell us today that things are even worse than he’d feared, and that we’re going to have to get used to years of pain.
They do seem to be putting a lot of effort into scaring us as to how bad things are, and how much worse they’d be if they didn’t make tough decisions. There’s also talk of involving us in the decision making through local meetings and online debate. It’s a nice idea, but you can only assume that its sole tangible impact will be to enable the Coalition to talk about sharing the responsibility for the cuts. Participatory budgeting for a £160 billion deficit might be a bit of a challenge to novices such as ourselves.
This is the challenging social and economic context within which we’re setting up a new social enterprise – Social Business Brokers CIC. I’ve hinted about it on the blog and on twitter – but the Certificate came through from Companies House this morning so now it’s all official.
I’ve set it up with fellow Leeds-based social entrepreneur Gill Coupland. We haven’t got a slick pitch as yet, but the basic idea is that we’ll help people to have more social impact. We’re explicitly looking to work across sectors – being socially enterprising is far too important to be left to social enterprises alone. So we’re actively looking at ways to work with private sector businesses to help them to find new markets, do things differently and collaborate with social businesses so that they can do more good.
Collaboration will be at the heart of what we do. That’s where the “Broker” bit comes in. We will encourage businesses to work together – to find new ways to do more good. Issues we’re already working on in this way include older people’s services, and innovative ways of working with businesses to help Leeds to meet its target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020.
It all feels really exciting. As I said earlier, there are times when it feels like a real challenge to be positive about the years ahead. But perhaps that’s what being a social entrepreneur is all about. We have to find opportunities to improve society – all the more when times are tough. We know that money will be tight in the next few years – and we’ll have to work really hard to make this business work. Yet tough times offer opportunities to do things differently – and if we can find effective, relevant ways to help other businesses to do good, then I’m sure we’ll have a good business.
The website will be up by the end of the month – and it’ll all start to make more sense once we start telling stories about what we’re up to. In the meantime if you have any questions – or if you’d be interested in working with us – please get in touch.