BBC's Panorama recently offered us a chilling insight into ‘Britain's Hidden Housing Crisis’. And while the government and banks are largely failing to address this issue, social businesses are uniquely placed to help to meet the challenge of homelessness.
Rod Schwartz is CEO of ClearlySo, a company that helps social entrepreneurs raise capital. He was a leading analyst on Wall Street before shifting his focus to helping grow the social investment marketplace and build a more social economy. Described as ‘the leading advocate and supporter of social enterprise.’ by Peter Tyson of the Body Shop, he founded Catalyst Fund Management & Research in 1997, followed by ClearlySo in 2009, which provides social enterprises with business support and strategic advice.
Since opening their doors for business back in 2001, Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has supported 107 organisations in 23 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities with loans of more than £11 million. Projects that have benefited from the funding are worth in excess of £60 million and tackle a range of social issues including employment and training, health, arts and culture and the environment.
But what social impact has SIS had through their investment?
It’s an important question and a recent assessment of 58 social enterprises and community organisations provide some answers.
It’s a tough time to be looking for your first job.
With one in three graduates taking non-graduate jobs, fewer jobs remain for the driven and educated school leaver. And if school leavers are driven into the lower end of the labour market, the most disadvantaged in society are yet again pushed further to the margins. And left there. On welfare. In poor housing. With little room to develop aspirations for something better, something more.
This is the result of our reliance on market forces; social exclusion and excess social expenditure and we’re left asking, ‘Is there a better way?’.
Something wonderful is growing at the Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens.
From what was a neglected stretch of land next to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, the Edinburgh Cyrenian Trust and a group of tireless volunteers have dug, weeded and sown a flourishing community garden. It is one of Scotland’s many community gardens and highlights a growing trend in developing urban wasteland into space that communities can use to grow vegetables or simply enjoy spending time in.
But it isn’t the first time the site in Edinburgh has helped nurture people in the local community.
The Labour Party calls it ‘responsible capitalism.’ Activists are demanding a different world for the 99%. Economists are calling for a ‘new economy.' These are just some of the phrases being used to talk about what is needed to create a new world order - one that respects human and natural capital.
Crowd sourced investment is buzzing. It has supported products ranging from luxury soap to financial services. People have become “armchair dragons” and “crowd funding” has created a new market place that anyone can participate in.
A few months ago, Marah Creative released a study estimating that people living in urban areas see 287 ad messages a day.
Social media has changed everything. Global brands now have an opportunity to engage with customers at a grassroots level, increase brand loyalty, and help solve some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges. It’s also smart business. 84% of consumers are more likely to buy brands that give something back to the community. Local-level social enterprise is a great way for big brands to engage with their customers.
And if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out.
Peter Holbrook is the CEO of Social Enterprise UK. He’s hungry for social and environmental justice and believes that social enterprise provides one of our very best hopes. In our inaugural interview with leaders in the new economy, Peter applauds the irrepressible passion of the social enterprise movement.