Gerry Higgins, CEO, CEIS was recently interviewed by Italian magazine, Vita to talk about the state of the social enterprise sector globally and how the Social Enterprise World Forum taking place in Milan from 1-3 July contributes to the global movement. Read the interview below.
What is the situation of social enterprise in the UK?
“The UK and Scotland have progressive social enterprise movements and in my situation in Scotland, we have a really good relationship with the Government”.
“It’s written into the national performance framework that in order to achieve a fairer, greener, more prosperous society, social enterprise should be in every community, playing a greater role. Public policies have increasingly shifted the focus on prevention, and social enterprise has a clear advantage when it comes to preventative services”.
“The Government has assisted the expansion of social enterprise, by having positive policies and supportive structures in place. There is currently a Social Value Act in the UK and a Procurement Reform Bill in Scotland; both have influenced the way public authorities procure goods and services, taking into account “economic, social and environmental wellbeing” when seeking to purchase services from suppliers and these policies are set to have a significant impact”.
What are the most effective measures for the promotion of social enterprises, in your opinion?
“To do it well, you need to create an ecosystem that has a number of dimensions. In our experience it should include a focus on social investments but also capacity building, social innovation, opening public sector markets, supporting entrepreneurship, leadership development and creating progressive policy. Raising awareness is also important. We have found that working to embed social enterprise in the school curriculum at junior school level is very effective”.
“In Scotland the Social Enterprise Academy develops projects in primary schools, to inform children about the principles of social enterprises. Students are involved in social enterprise projects and identify target groups in their community or in development countries. It’s successful because it informs them at a time when they haven’t thought fully about their aspirations and they are enthusiastic about social change”.
The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) will take place in Milan in 2015. What do you expect from the event?
“We have an agreed commitment* with ACRA that this year’s forum will be quite critical, confrontational, disruptive and there will be no space for rhethoric”.
“We will focus on failure as well as success, to gain an indepth understanding of what is really working and what the users of the services think about it. Our aspiration is that by combining the people who are leading this movement in Italy with people who are leading the movement around the world, this will provide momentum for social enterprise in Italy and beyond”.
For further information on SEWF 2015, please visit http://sewf2015.org/
For further information on SEWF 2015 hosts, ACRA-CCS, please visit http://www.acraccs.org/index.php?lang=en
* CEIS has provided Secretariat support for Social Enterprise World Forum since its inaugural event held in Edinburgh and hosted by CEIS in 2008. For further information on SEWF visit http://www.sewfonline.com/