When social enterprise isn’t

Social , I mean.

It was our founder Terry Hallman, as a pioneer of social enterprise who long ago made the case for compassion in the way we do business.

“An idea whose time has come” say the British Council. A time for “collaboration and compassion”

Have you ever tried to join a club that wouldn’t have someone like you for a member?

It began 21 years ago when an activist questioned the purpose of business, arguing that a business can use it’s profit to serve the community over shareholder returns if said purpose is agreed by all stakeholders and declared in the corporate charter.

Purpose in business today, is big news.

In 2004, it was introduced to the UK social enterprise community. After a year of seeking social investment, I wrote to the chair of the APPG. 12 years, on Baroness Thornton has yet to reply.

Next I joined the Social Enterprise Coalition and wrote to them describing our background. We were beyond their current focus.

By 2007 our proposal for Microeconomic Development and Social Enterprise in Ukraine was on the table. We published in a prominent journal.

“It is almost impossible to overstate the need for social enterprise in Ukraine. The nation is plagued by widespread socioeconomic problems and deficiencies, with a host of disparate, haphazard, uncoordinated efforts aimed at solving them. In order to understand the overwhelming critical need for social enterprise and a formal national center to facilitate social enterprise, an operational definition for social enterprise is essential.”

We followed up with an appeal to USAID, The Senate and others.

In 2008 I approached RISE. It was outside their remit and besides, they were too busy creating the Social Enterprise Mark.

Then there was the EU Citizens Consultation.

“The purpose of this plan is to address poverty which renders children into institutions or the streets, on to a life of either crime or prostitution in a vicious cycle which has contributed to Europe’s largest HIV epidemic which the UN now considers a threat to All Europe.

“We propose a microeconomic ‘Marshall Plan’ strategy, as a mix of components in a 4 year implementation to end this cycle of deprivation once and for all.”

So far, all those I’d approached were support organisations, financed by the public purse.

It got more interesting in 2009.

First there was B Labs, who I approached seeking collaboration and sharing our history. They said they couldn’t accommodate UK based business.

Then Virgin Unite, Richard Branson’s charity. At Davos, he was saying what the ‘Marshall PLan’ had argued , applying business to resolve social problems.

In 2010, with the Social Business ideas competition, I introduced the ‘Marshall Plan’ to Grameen Creative Labs and Erste Bank. An initial response and then it went silent. It would take a couple of years to discover why.

Similarly, our application to partner the British Council was met with silence - Why?

As it turned out, USAID, The British Council and Erste Bank were making plans for their own social enterprise development program in Ukraine and their partners included several of Ukraine’s oligarchs.

These were men described in the Kyiv Post as ‘Ukraine’s Scrooges’, for their paltry contribution to social benefit. Several years earlier, they had featured in our ‘Death Camps, For Children’ series on “economic” orphans.

“Excuses won’t work, particularly in light of a handful of oligarchs in Ukraine having been allowed to loot Ukraine’s economy for tens of billions of dollars. I point specifically to Akhmetov, Pinchuk, Poroshenko, and Kuchma, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list. These people can single-handedly finance 100% of all that will ever be needed to save Ukraine’s orphans. None of them evidently bother to think past their bank accounts, and seem to have at least tacit blessings at this point from the new regime to keep their loot while no one wants to consider Ukraine’s death camps, and the widespread poverty that produced them.”

It took a letter to my MP to prise an explanation from Martin Davidson of The British Council — we were disregarded because their partners are expected to make a financial contribution.

Bringing this up in discussion online seemed to provoke a particularly hostile response from Nick Temple, deputy head of Social Enterprise UK. “There’s a lot of criticism online about your work in Ukraine”, he sniped. Was he in on the act, with the British Council?

Nick didn’t want to talk after that, blocking me on social media.

Being scared of open dialogue is in stark contrast with the efforts of Terry Hallman, our founder, who’d risked his life speaking out about corruption.

When Terry died, as far as I know from natural causes, the local civic activists who’d known him were a little more generous:

“The author of breakthru report “Death camps for children” Terry Hallman suddenly died of grave disease on Aug 18 2011. On his death bed he was speaking only of his mission — rescuing of these unlucky kids. His dream was to get them new homes filled with care and love. His quest would be continued as he wished.”

Within 3 years, the violent unrest he warned of so often came to pass and the current toll is some 18,000 deaths.

Torez, the orphanage described in ‘Death Camps’ for Children’ would be put on the map, when bodies of flight MH17, fell in the grounds where so many were already buried.

“I want to know why that boy died,” said one of the orphans, 14-year-old Ruslan.

He isn’t alone in wanting to know.

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Jeff Mowatt

Putting people above profit, a profit-for-purpose business #socent #poverty #compassion #peoplecentered #humaneconomy