Friday, 27 February 2009

Red Button Design finally do YouTube!

I would like to announce the launch of our YouTube Channel.

Much of our collected media has already been retrospectively uploaded for your instant gratification. However, we hope to make available updated shots of the prototype, film from our travels to trial sites and launch video blogging, very shortly.

Monday, 23 February 2009

How Bank of Scotland & The Sunday Times got it so wrong.

Today is the deadline for the Bank of Scotland £6 million, Social Entrepreneur Awards in association with the Sunday Times.

Some months ago, amongst a flurry of PR, and a hum of excitement from the Social Enterprise Community, BOS & The Sunday Times announced with open arms that "Whether your organisation is a charity, voluntary organisation, church or any other not-for-profit organisation, large or small you are eligible for these awards"

Hang on ...
any other not-for-profit organisation?

I have long been of the unwavering opinion that so·cial en·ter·prise (n.) is responsibly-profitable enterprise* and that as long as that organistaion is dedicated to creating social value, its structure is unimportant. A quick check with the Social Enterprise Coalition and Social Enterprise Magazine indicates the consensus falls firmly on my side.

I, however, don't have £6 million to donate to the cause and, sadly, those who do at Bank of Scotland are only recognising the social benefit of what is described in their Ts and Cs as:

"not-for-profit organisations, meaning organisations which are not capable of distributing profits generated by the organisation or capital back to shareholders, members or other participants in the organisation;"

A short sighted approach if ever there was one. Non-profits, as the definition above testifies, cannot release capital. This, you might speculate, would put off investors and you'd see a 5x ROI on that guess. Not being able to raise finance through investment leaves non-profits on the scrounge. So in this sense I see the appeal of offering millions of pounds in prize money to an organisation that can't raise it's cash any other way. BUT, and here is the point that so often gets missed, how sustainable is this? What happens when th organisation needs more cash down the line? Just how scalable are non-profits and are they really going to contribute to the growth of the economy in the same way that a Social Enterprise producing equal social value, only constituted in a way that makes them eligible for investment capital, would?

Whether structured as non-profits or for-profits, social enterprises should be measured by their ability to tackle pressing problems with innovative solutions and their capacity to grow and scale whilst exponentially improving the status quo.

Are bank of Scotland supporting scalable Social Enterprise?

Are they likely to discover and finance the next "Divine Chocolate" or "Big Issue"

Both Divine Chocolate (Enterprising Solutions "Social Enterprise of the Year" 2007 ) and The Big Issue (John Bird, Ernst & Young "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" 2008) are incorporated as Limited Companies and are therefore capable of "distributing profits back to shareholders". Consequentially this would render them both ineligible for qualification as a "Social Enterprise" under The Bank of Scotland / Sunday Times definition.

It is extremely disappointing to see that the UK is still so backwards in its thinking regarding Social Enterprise. If we are ever to take a lead in this vital sector it needs to be universally recognised that Social Enterprise is not a synonym for non-profit, and there is no difference between social value created by donor funds and social value created with internally generated surplus.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

An Urgent Matter Of Human Development & Human Dignity.

"Dear Friends,

Water is essential for life. Yet many millions of people around the world face water shortages. Many millions of children die every year from water-borne diseases and drought regularly afflicts some of the world's poorest countries. The world needs to respond much better. We need to increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture. We need to free women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great distances. We must involve them in decision-making on water management. We need to make sanitation a priority. This is where progress is lagging most. And we must show that water resources need not be a source of conflict. Instead, they can be a catalyst for cooperation. Significant gains have been made but a major effort is still required. that is why this year marks the beginning of the 'Water for Life' Decade. Our goal is to meet the internationally agreed targets for water and sanitation by 2015, and to build the foundations for further progress in the years beyond.

This is an urgent matter of human development and human dignity. Together we can provide safe, clean water to all the world's people. The world's water resources are our lifeline for survival and for sustainable development in the 21st century. Together, we must manage them better."

- Kofi Annan,

This statement was issued on World Water Day, 22nd March, 2005 but sadly is just as applicable now, 4 years later. To watch the video clip, click the photograph above.

World Water Day is held on March 22nd annually, focusing on a different water issue each year.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snowed Under!

Opportunities to become all to busy have presented themselves in droves at RBD-HQ this month.
James and I are wading our way through some re-brand and CAD work, scores of exhibitions, funding applications, posh events, investment proposals and meetings.

James had a photo shoot*, I had an interview and then, like the rest of the UK, we got snowed under literally, as well as figuratively!
Add to this James' full-time Masters Degree and my growing side business attending speaking engagements and doing consultancy work (which, incidentally, is causing me to be in London so often, at the moment, that I consider myself to be a London based worker with the world's longest commute!) and quite clearly. I haven't been blogging.

But worry not!

The rest of the planet have. And in the absence of the time or coherency to construct an interesting post myself, here are my top 5 blog posts of the week!

Foreign Aid, Bad Governments: Why helping entrepreneurs is the right approach. - Acumen Fund

Co-preneurs & Power Couples - Social Edge

Oooh Lots of Lovely Government Money! - Catalyst

Meet The Other 360! (Number of intelligent civilisations can be quantified) - BBC

Made to be a Hand-Me-Down - Springwise

*more to come on this later!