Context Master Class on Social Impact Utrecht

logo-context-compleet-jpgAt last Thursday’s Context Master Class on Social Impact in Utrecht organised by Context, International Cooperation (CIC) I gave keynote presentation on the state and context of the social enterprise and blended value sector in the UK. I ended my presentation with the main challenges and opportunities for social enterprises in the UK as I see them.

Recognising, quantifying and communicating value

  • Being able to identify the different forms of value that social enterprises create including financial, social and environmental value. This is something that many commercial organisations struggle with
  • Delivering this impact in a replicable and verifiable way. Can you deliver the change you say you can time after time and in real world conditions?
  • Communicating this using appropriate language to appropriate supporters. These might be commissioners or procurement officers in the public sector, corporate clients in the private sector, citizen beneficiaries or members of the general public that may be customers
  • Social impact measurement (SIM) and reporting is not an after thought or a project. For you to get the most out of SIM it needs to be seen as a management

    competency – something you do all of the time

Access to structured markets

  • By this we mean selling to the public sector through formal mechanisms
  • This includes commissioning of public services when an outcome or impact is desire, and procurement of products and services when a specification is already in place
  • Issues include business probity and reducing your perceived risk, or can you prove you are a grown up company and not an enthusiastic amateur?

Access to unstructured markets

  • Trading in the open market – to companies, the general public and other social sector organisations
  • According to The People’s Business, State of Social Enterprise Survey, 2013, SE UK 37% of organisations generated revenues primarily or wholly from the general public compared to 23% of organisations that did so from the public sector, this is in spite of the drive by UK government to use SE as a vehicle for public sector service delivery

Access to finance and capital markets

  • Social investment and other funding mechanisms are immensely important for social ventures as many are unable to access traditional debt or equity finance because of their legal structures, clauses within their governing documentation or as a consequence of the way the organisation is run by directors
  • I spoke about a range non-traditional funding tools including crowd funding and crowd sourcing of support, social investors and social exchanges such as Ethex, the Social Stock Exchange, Crowdfunder, BuzzBnk and The 1% Club and others.

Access to top people

  • To be able to deliver social impact at scale access to skilled and effective staff, and leadership are key success factors. Without people your social enterprise is likely to be only a couple of documents, some policies and a bank account.
  • The senior management team or board of directors should have a realistic approach to the recruitment, retention and succession planning of their social enterprise


Published: September 26, 2013. Categories: News, Robert's Blog and Social Impact.

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