Branson and social enterprise
posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010 01:59 PM
Tommy Hutchinson's recent blog about Richard Branson was something I found particularly interesting this week.
A year ago, white we'd been engaged in Ukraine, Branson had given a speech at the Ukrainian Lunch at Davos calling on business to focus more on social problems. That's what we'd been doing in Ukraine for the last 7 years, beginning with a proposal for bringing social enterprise to the Tatars of Crimea. .
"Capitalism is the only economic system that really works", he underlined, saying that the downside of the capitalist system is accumulation of great wealth in hands of relatively small number of people. "Not all of these people use their assets to create new jobs and new opportunities."
It was pretty much what we'd said 5 years earlier in an interview about the Crimea project and an overview of our for profit social enterprise approach which had been used to source a development initiative in Russia.
So if he's for the nonprofit approach exclusively and wants business to focus more on social problems, what's he saying here?
The lunch at Davos was attended by Bill Clinton, Muhammad Yunus and Tony Blair who has since along with Steven Byers been hired as an advocate for host Victor Pinchuk, one of Ukraine' s leading oligarchs.
It was in October 2006 that we''d delivered a strategy paper to US and Ukraine Government which included a social enterprise fund of national scale. The recommendation was that it be managed by a group of trustees drawn from across Ukraine's civil society,
It didn't quite turn out that way. Instead, Ukraine got the East Europe Foundation whose focus has been more toward CSR, though they state support for "sustainable community enterprise" which I guess is another way of saying social enterprise without saying it.
Since then the EEF has formed alliances with our own nonprofit sector and a John Smith fellow now serves as Chief Exec.
My impression is that perhaps, the concept of a "social innovation" fund being controlled by a trust may have been seen as competition or loss of control to CSR advocates