“They Can Because They Think They Can”

Posted: 05 January 2011, in Blog

Virgil 70 BC – 19BC

It is great to hear that Forth Sector is going to build an employability hub in Craigmillar.  (I always liked their wordplay with “going forth” and “fourth” not being part of the “third” sector in their name). With what seems to be a good mix of investment finance and presumably a decent contract to deliver support for 500 people, this new venture looks set to be an exemplar worthy of study by other Scottish social entrepreneurs.

If  other “anchor” social enterprises in the principal cities and towns of Scotland could do something similar would this be a tipping point in getting social enterprises of all sorts further up the ladder of being able to compete with the private sector in winning these and other contracts. I only ask because the other recent great news about the Wise Group winning a contract with the DWP for their Work Programme was only slightly devalued for me by the concurrent news that Balfour Beatty and G4E also got a DWP contract.

Now, why am I disturbed that a builder and a security firm are doing this – could it be that there is good money to be made and that they have the ear of govt? Will they display the same commitment to people and the social norms and mission of Laurie and his chums – answers on a postcard etc…

Anyway, back to Craigmillar. I love the fact that the FS folk have struck a deal with Edinburgh Council over ownership of an industrial estate and that this asset will add value to the Forth Sector balance sheet.  I’m sure that this will give their SROI team plenty to chew on.

These two social enterprise success stories do not of course just happen. The boards and the management teams of both social enterprises ought to be heartily congratulated by all and sundry on their aspiration, ambition, competitiveness and hard graft. (Suggestion to SSEC – put a few decent photos on your website – we lag behind the private sector in telling our good news stories).

So, now that we have employment and training exemplars to kick-start 2011 off with a flourish, where next for Scottish social entrepreneurs? My guess is that those enterprises that have contracts with The State will have a very different set of challenges to those who deal direct with consumers. However, social entrepreneurs are meant to be able to spot opportunities and mobilise the resources they need to make things happen. Let’s hope that 2011 is a year of success and growth as we demonstrate that we are best placed to address the State and market failures that got us into this mess in the first place. Happy New Year.