The definition of ‘social enterprise’ is becoming more widely agreed nationally and across Europe, although translation and different interpretations make this more difficult globally. It was suggested than an agreed definition is important for administer ing tax incentives, but also for building public support behind social enterprise, sharing a common brand that can become a commercial asset. Could the Social Enterprise Mark help raise public awareness in the way the Fairtrade Mark has for fair trade; helping to raise public awareness of and support for social enterprises towards the 80 per cent level seen in Hong Kong? Or will it find itself fighting to restrict social enterprise to too narrow a definition?
This question may be found in the appendix of the British Council's vision of social enterprise in 2020
They may have overlooked news that a year earlier, Fairtrade UK began to promote the concept of people centred business.
The people centered business model, operational in the UK from 2004, was introduced to Rise SW from 2006 to 2009,
It has the following characteristics:.
100% income from trading
No dividend distribution
>50% profit invested in community projects, asset locked into an irrevocable trust fund
A living wage as defined by ICESCR
The people-centered business model was shared free to use online from 1996 and when RISE SW as our local support body responded in 2009, they were too business creating the Social Enterprise Mark, a subset of what was introduced to them.
Others like David Floyd of Social Spider CIC have asked - why do I need the Social Enterprise Mark as our business already conforms to this definition?
The people-centred business model was introduced to the British Council in 2010, with an application for partnership in Ukraine.
Notably above all The British Council has been supplied by this people-centered business since 2004, when it took over maintenance of the facilities reservation software at The Britih Council's HQ in Manchester and boy was it a struggle to get an invoice paid.
To explain the philosophy of the people-centered business model, it's necessary ro go back to the 1996 position paper and the influence of Peter Drucker.
"By going with the normal flow of free-market enterprise and the emerging replacement of monetary capital with intellectual capital as the dominant form of basic enterprise capitalization, it becomes easier to set up new companies primarily on the basis of invested intellectual capital. (See Post-Capitalist Society, by Peter Drucker). In plain English, socially responsible and forward-thinking companies can be set up quickly and cheaply--and these companies have indefinite potential for earnings and localized, targeted economic development. The initial objective is to develop model enterprises and communities, then implement successful strategies from those models into surrounding communities regionwide or nationwide, as needed."
Well that was the theory, while in practice is seems more effort is going into taking ownership.
The SEM organisation has not been a social enterprise, so can't conform to their own definition. But they can monetise it, it seems. That wasn't the intention of sharing.
So what kind of business is the people-centred model Fairtrade UK now advocates?.
Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fair Trade International, said: “Businesses alone are not enough to tackle poverty; the EU should foster people-centred businesses. Cooperatives and Fair Trade have shown that they put high standards and strict rules on businesses, that they put people first, and still they are successful.”
It sounds a lot like the people-centered business introduced to the EU citizens consultation in 2008.
'This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. '
I described this as The New Bottom LIne