This week, I had the opportunity to be featured on the BBC Sunday Politics Show as an example of a social enterprise.
Like anyone who ever gets to be on TV, ten or fifteen minutes contextual interviewing is squashed into two minutes sound bites and that is exactly my experience.
Later that day, I celebrated my old Irish friend’s 86th birthday. As was expected, Irish music, St Patrick and boiled fruitcake was available and on my way home I was musing about how St Patrick would run his social enterprise.
Social enterprises are described as having a triple bottom line, social, economic and environmental. So, by St Patrick banning the snakes from Ireland he created a long lasting environmental social impact as 600 years later no snake has had the gall to try and swim the Irish Channel or smuggle its way on Aer Lingus (Ryan Air would charge), although I am sure there is a snakeskin bag or two among the Dublin “golden set”.
So if St Patrick was a modern social entrepreneur and he got 15 minutes on the Sunday Politics what could he say using LEYF as his example? Social enterprises are business doing public good. (LEYF runs 25 community nurseries) Social enterprises need to be able to trade with the public (LEYF sells nursery places) Social enterprises are well placed to provide local authority contracts (LEYF will provide nursery places for local authorities across London) Social enterprises need to challenge the way things are done (LEYF challenges traditional nursery provision through its alterative business approach as well as campaigns for better services for children) Social Enterprises needs to create social impact (LEYF does this by balancing nursery places in rich and poor areas, creating employment locally especially for women, stimulating the economy in poor neighbourhoods, providing an apprentice programme and extending its services into the community.)
So in the words of St Patrick to all social entrepreneurs
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of you wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you
‘Happy St Patricks’ Day or ‘Lá Fhéile Padraig Agaibh’