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167, Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK | Leading an Economic and Political Systems Shift
Social Entrepreneur
167, Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK | Leading an Economic and Political Systems Shift
15/05/201721:33
Episode Info

Social Enterprise UK is the membership and advocacy body for social enterprises in the United Kingdom.

Peter Holbrook started his career with the retailer Marks & Spencer. He also worked at The Body Shop. In both cases, he watched as values-based companies changed once they became shareholder-driven.

Peter wanted to have a social impact with his work, so worked for Oxfam and for Greenpeace. There, he found organizations that were working on purpose but were missing some of the innovation and drive of for-profit enterprises.

In 2001, he launched Sunlight Development Trust, a community owned and managed charity. They work in the Medway community in South East England to improve health and well-being. Sunlight Development takes an innovative approach. They house a community café, recording studio, and a community radio station, located next to health services.

Peter’s work with Sunlight Development attracted the attention of political parties from both sides of the aisle. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Peter as a Social Enterprise Ambassador. David Cameron visited Sunlight Development on several occasions.

Peter was a member of Social Enterprise UK. When the Chief Executive, Jonathan Bland stepped down, Peter was encouraged by a board member to apply for the role. Peter had been at Sunlight Development for more than ten years. The opportunity at Social Enterprise UK seemed like a chance to get back to his entrepreneurial roots. It also gave him an opportunity to work at the system level to create an economic and political shift.

In the UK, there are around 80,000 social enterprises with a combined revenue of £27 billion per year. Social Enterprise UK is the national membership body for social enterprises. They conduct research. They run campaigns such as Buy Social and Social Saturday. They develop policy. And they lobby on behalf of their members.

One key piece of legislation that was passed with Social Enterprise UK support is Social Value Act. This law requires public authorities to consider the economic, social and environmental implications of contracts. Therefore, instead of only basis government contacts on price and quality, government organizations can look holistically at the impact of their spending. This single piece of legislation can unleash £300 billion in government spending for social good.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Peter Holbrook

“I wanted to bring those two worlds together – commercial thinking, to the world of social change.”

“I set up an organization without any knowledge of the term social enterprise.”

“I understand the value of networks.”

“Running a social enterprise can be a lonely experience.”

“I’ve always recognized the need for an economic and political shift.”

“Enthusiasm is a great substitute for talent.”

“Dare to dream.”

“You can genuinely achieve great things if you’re not bothered about who takes the credit.”

“We can only make the huge change the world desperately needs if we work together.”

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

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