Imagine farming in the developing world without fair trade… microfinance without Grameen… cosmetic testing without the Body Shop… teaching in deprived areas without Teach First. Without these social innovations, the world would be a poorer place, literally.
I'm fascinated by the problem of how social innovation can spread internationally, accessing social investment along the way. Market forces enable great businesses to scale, but to date there haven't been the same drivers in the social sector. Ashoka, through its Globalizer programme, is aiming to link initiatives ready for global scale to the support they require to go global. The Young Foundation has set up a Global Innovation Academy, leveraging its expertise and global networks, to skill people in social innovation across the world
The UK is currently attracting interest from around the world for the work that it is doing in social innovation, entrepreneurship and investment. It is estimated that one in five businesses in the UK have a primary social goal – contributing a total of £97bn to GDP; 1.7m people are involved in leading social sector organisations in the UK today – 2.8% of population and 238,000 people are trying to set up social enterprises, with one in three start-ups currently being primarily socially motivated.
The question, however, is how do we leverage this interest to see our brightest and best social enterprises and business scale? We have seen some UK- based social innovation scale internationally, including social impact bonds – Social Finance having created a United States sister organisation that has opened an office in Boston, Massachusetts. The Hub concept has spread from London to 26 cities across five continents. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurants have opened abroad. But, I think – with many social entrepreneurs struggling to scale internationally – it is fair to say global social entrepreneurship is not yet here.
To read the full article, please follow the link to the Guardian, where this item was originally published.