Would Social Enterprise Deliver a Better World?
Just imagine a world where every business is a social enterprise.
There was nowhere to spend your money that was not taking a portion of it to reinvest in social change, to alleviate hardship and increase social justice.
You eat at a restaurant that uses part of the price of your ham hock to help the homeless find a job. You pay a premium on your office space so that your landlord can re-invest some of your cash into supporting entrepreneurs in the local poor folk. You buy your petrol from an oil company that takes a slice of your cash to improve marine conservation and invest in promoting democracy in the oilfields of the planet.
Every time you buy something someone puts a smile on the face of the world.
The more we consume the better things get!
Growth is genuinely good! Isn’t it?
Well perhaps, because all of these social enterprises are also genuinely sustainable in a one planet economy, all paying a fair wage for a days work, and are well capitalised as investors recognise investing in social change is in their long term ‘self interest’ too. The return they get on their capital is worth much more than just money. It is a planet fit for the grandchildren.
How would the market for ‘social change’ play out in our new socially enterprising economy? I suspect that saving Pandas and Snow Leopards might do disproportionally well while less popular causes like ‘kids in care’ or special needs education may not get a look in.
Life for us shoppers might get a little more complicated as we look to factor in not just cost, quality and decency of the corporate that we buy our goods from – but also whether they are investing effectively in causes that we want to support.
But what a vision!
A post capitalist economy where entrepreneurs and markets set the agenda and provide the fuel for social change. And perhaps just a quango or two checking the veracity of their claims for ‘re-investing profits’. We could call it SEQC – the Social Enterprise Quality Commission.
What could possibly go wrong?