The United Kingdom has long been a leader in the social investment sector and countries such as the US have been “inspired by social bonds in the UK and was now trialling [their] own.” These bonds are designed to focus on social change in the countries they are enacted in. The United Kingdom is a leader in this space because of their highly developed legal and financial ecosystem that supports social enterprise. Furthermore, they have taken this ecosystem platform and transported social enterprise into every sector of their economy.
One of the key factors to this success has been the strong external tie between the government and social enterprise, and an internal connectedness in the sector. What can be described as a “state and systematic engagement with social enterprise,” the country is able to strengthen the infrastructure put in place, while fostering cultural values that align with the cause.
However, according to a recent article in The Guardian, there are still many areas the UK can capitalize on, as they world explores social enterprise business models.
“One of the big areas where the UK can capitalise is with its specialist knowledge of social enterprises delivering public service. The UK is ahead in a number of areas, including innovation in public service delivery models.”
However, social enterprise leaders in the country state that the UK model isn’t necessarily perfected and worth emulating, due to issues such as a lack of social investors, or individuals ready to give money to social entrepreneurs. This issue seems to be prevalent around the world as one of the toughest challenge social entrepreneurs face is finding way to prove their business idea is worth as much as a regular profit-generating venture. The industry has to go beyond just hyping up new ventures and find tangible ways to demonstrate they deserve funding and social investment.
It goes beyond using words like transformational or social change, and finding ways to truly create change.
“I find that every social enterprise in the UK talks about being transformational, but being transformational takes a lot more than selling a new gadget. You have to be at the heart of communities for a long, long time. I think more diligence and rigour is required to identify and focus support on enterprises that have true potential to create change.”