Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Shine 2010 Fink Club: What I meant to say was....

May 13-15th saw the great and the good of social enterprise (and a few people I think must've snuck in the back door) gather for Shine 2010.
The original unconference upped the anti for it's 3rd year. One of the bolder ideas in a fantastically crafted, inspiration packed event, was the Friday night, not Fight Club but "Fink Club"..

"A boxing ring, 4 opposing positions, 4 pugnacious and opinionated social entrepreneurs refereed by the legendary Liam Black of Wavelength. The gloves are off. You decide who wins"

Oh yes...
Rod Schwartz, investor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Clearly So.
David Barrie, regeneration consultant, film-maker and founder of The People's Supermarket.
Saeeda Ahmed, Social Enterprise Ambassador, SSE Fellow, founder of community regeneration company Trescom

and .. Me. Literally, they couldn't get anyone better ;-)

My rallying cry in the face of calls to man up, become more commercial and attract more equity finance was, surprisingly, for social enterprise to "stay young, stay hungry & stay innovative" ..
Well, there was definitely hesitation, and repetition, as well as language Russell Brand and Wossy would have blushed at (sorry mum) but here's what I planned to say, the PG version..

"What is the most important contribution that social entrepreneurs can make to our society now?"

The most important contribution we can make to society, is to recognize that whilst the sector we have created is good – it is not the holy grail and it cannot and should not attempt to “do it all”.

Social Entrepreneurs are not like other entrepreneurs. We aren’t here in the ruthless pursuit for money, power and influence, we are here because we have organisations addressing the fundaments of human nature. Problems which are not new to society but, thanks to us, are now being approached with a new hunger and a fresh creative spirit.

This is a sector that is still dominated by early stage new start organisations. It’s fantastic! Young organisations are special. They’re cash strapped, they’re resource limited, they’re geographically and sector focused; they have to be responsive and single-mindedly motivated to create impact, they've a childlike desire to prove themselves in the wider world.

And as soon as you begin to shepherd them along the well trodden path towards traditional commerce, towards the status quo, you lose these characteristics.
The stability afforded by bountiful capital and regular contracts tempers the hunger, it introduces a fear that hinders innovation, what was once youthful and unafraid to make mistakes becomes risk adverse and unresponsive..

We must resist. We should not be swayed down a path of complacency by political buzz words and the all too common belief that if we throw enough money at it, it’ll somehow get better.

It *is* tempting to think that we can change the way investors think. But investors have a mandate to maximize profit. Do you??

I’m not anti-commercialising socent per se, for goodness sake, if we create anything of any real value the commercially minded will come right in and “monetize” it anyway whether we like it or not! I’m simply suggesting we don’t do their job for them.
It’s not the place of social entrepreneurs to fit our round sector into their square boxes

No. The SINGLE greatest contribution we can make right now is to harness the sectors majority; the youthful, hungry and innovative majority and focus our efforts for impact, continuing to innovate where innovation is needed most.

Stay Youthful.
Stay Hungry.
Keep Innovating.

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