Peter Holbrook from Social Enterprise UK spoke at a breakfast hosted in Brisbane by QCOSS yesterday, telling inspiring stories of social enterprise in the UK including an employee ownded bus company, and an enterprise that repurposes firefighting hoses into high end goods, Elvis and Kreese, such as a hand bag which Cameron Diaz has been seen wearing. You can read more about Peter’s global travels and social enterprise here
In a wide ranging talk I took away many things but I really liked Peter’s story of failure; he was losing money running one cafe employing people with disabilities in London and thought that if he scaled and opened five cafes, then the business would start making money. But, he just lost 5 x the amount of money! Good lesson. Start small, get the model right before scaling.
The subject of the ethical consumer also resonates with me, and fits in with my theme that the the social enterprise sector and social entrepreneurs are influencing mainstream business in effect ‘ethicalising business’.
At a time when many of us are feeling the pinch and may have less to give, we’re choosing to make a difference through our everyday spending decisions, according to Social Enterprise UK.
Do you give much thought to where your hard-earned money goes when you’re buying your morning coffee, doing the shopping, at the gym or paying your gas bill? With life this busy it’s understandable if you don’t. But at a time when many of us are feeling the pinch and may have less to give, we’re choosing to make a difference through our everyday spending decisions, according to Social Enterprise UK. Research shows that more of us are making ethical choices, opting to buy from social enterprises when going about our daily lives [1, 2].
Social enterprises are businesses, but unlike ‘ordinary’ businesses they exist first and foremost to do good things for people and the planet. They’re in our communities and on our high streets – from coffee shops and cinemas, to pubs and leisure centres, banks and even energy suppliers.
Social enterprises, which include co-operatives, reinvest their profits back into the business or local community, rather than paying them out to owners or shareholders, and the end result is that people in need are given a lifeline or the environment is protected from harm.