What is Social Enterprise?

I was recently invited to be part of the Beyond Sports Summit, in Philadelphia to help the audience answer one question – What is Social Enterprise? I want to give you an answer to that question too.  It’s a question that keeps coming up, and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

A little background

I’ve worked with several different social enterprise support services in London over the past couple of years, and had the privilege to know and work with a number of social entrepreneurs over that time.  When the organising team contacted me to answer the “what is social enterprise” question, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

You see, even for us in the social enterprise industry, we don’t all have one strict definition that everyone around the world agrees on.  We do all have a sense of what it means, and I’ll give you my answer:

Social Enterprises use financially sustainable business models to solve social problems.  

Wikipedia says Social Enterprises apply “commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximising profits for external shareholders.”

I like my answer better.   Continue reading

New York For (Almost) Free – My Guide

I was invited to the USA to speak about social enterprise at a conference called the Beyond Sport Summit.  I was on a tight budget while there, but I didn’t want to let that stop me exploring what New York had to offer.  Here are my recommendations for spending a few days in New York, without spending a lot of money.

The High Line

I saw pictures of the High Line in the newspaper about 6 months ago, and thought it looked really cool.  It’s a public park built on a rail line above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side.  It’s looked after by a non-profit group called the Friends of the High Line, and it’s a great place for a walk, or a walking meeting.   And we know the value of walking meetings, I already linked to the TED Talk in my last post.  My companions for the walk were sharing economy and collaboration experts Melissa O’Young of LetsCollaborate, and Odile Beniflah of carpooling.com.  It’s funny to be walking past apartment block windows, but it’s a beautiful place to spend an hour or so.

9/11 Memorial

Two huge pools cascade water into a dark abyss.  They stand in the footprint of the original towers, and are outlined with the names of those that died.  Around it, the new world trade centre is still being constructed, with the new One World Trade Centre being the tallest tower the USA.  Entrance is free, but $5-$10 donations are appreciated.  Book online to avoid queues.  Continue reading