In praise of social entrepreneurs

In the past the political structures existed to deal with the problems faced by the people that they represented. However, at every level of politics, this has ceased to be the case.

Politics has become much more adversarial, much more dogma driven and much more about power and legacy than about real problems. Even at the very local levels this has become the case.

I recently saw an example of a local election where the previous mayor lost out to another and proceeded to tear up the children’s playground he had championed prior to the election!

In short, politicians at all levels are told how to act by those above them and politics seems to be the only place where legacy is more important than results.

If one looks at the disasters that have encircled Theresa May since her ill-fated 2016 election, there are too many occasions to count where predecessors would have resigned. This must be the supreme example of the pursuit of ego over true service.

However, while politics across the world continues to ignore the people they should be representing, two things are happening. Clearly at the fringes there are a growing number of extremist groups.

But at the same time, the rise in social enterprises has continued apace as people recognise that some problems are too important to leave to the squabbling politicians.

By social enterprises I mean enterprises that plough their profits back into the community for the benefit of the community. Already today there are nearly half a million social enterprises in the UK alone.

By social enterprises I do not mean the benevolent donations given by big business in order to reduce their tax bill and improve their marketing image, neither do I count the large charities that spend more on the organisation than on the charities they purport to represent.

These are organisations that do things like teaching the homeless skills that enable them to earn money and to give them an opportunity to start again. These are organisations that develop food banks for those without food. These are organisations that develop mobile services on everything from vans to buses so that services are available to more people and often in hard to reach areas. These are groups that run enterprises that not only serve the community, but also assists producers in other countries by ensuring fair-trading. These are people that not only talk about climate change, but also do things that have a positive impact on climate change.

None of these people are celebrities and people in the public eye that develop the largest possible carbon footprint whilst also accumulating and spending wealth that those they preach to can only dream of. Even if one ignores the carbon footprint, one New York baby shower that took place recently would have doubled the wages of 1000 women shelling cashew nuts in South East Asia for a whole year!

We are talking about people that you may walk past in the supermarket or on the way to and from work. These are ordinary people that have an extraordinary capacity to identify a problem and to use their skills to resolve the problem through their entrepreneurial skills.

These people don’t need private jets or designer clothes. Yes they need enough to live and to not become a problem themselves. However, they are the people that will truly create a legacy, despite not worrying about self-glorification.

As we move through the 21stCentury, I believe that politics has lost its way and that it is incapable of solving many of today’s problems. I also believe that many problems are better solved locally than globally. I also believe that more and more businesses will need to consider social impact in order to survive as ordinary people continue to care.

Perhaps it is time the celebrities and the rich generally stop telling the rest what we should do and start to put their own house in order. Better still, perhaps they could take a few lessons from the real caring people.

For those people telling us what we should do, perhaps I should rewrite a famous quote: Will those of you who keep telling us what we should do, shut up and get out of the way of those of us who are doing it’.

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