If social enterprise can deliver that better future, they need to tell the story better

How could June O’Sullivan one day achieve her stated aim of seeing a high street full of social enterprises? Well, for June it means all social entrepreneurs are going to have to get better at telling their stories. Her staff at the London Early Years Foundation wanted to keep nurseries open during lockdown to look after the children of keyworkers, even though they lost money, seeing 6% occupancy. “For us it was about kindness, about empathy, about collaboration and about storytelling. We need to get the public to understand what we mean when we talk about social enterprise. We’re at the cutting edge of transformation and dynamism,” said O’Sullivan.

Social enterprise is well placed to look favourable to government facing a difficult future

“There is a real opportunity for social enterprise and community businesses to be at the centre of the recovery, particularly in a very neighbourhood, place-based way. What we know is that the kind of things the government is preoccupied by at the moment – employment, the future of town centres, social crises resulting from recession, we have a strong record as the social economy at doing that: employing people furthest away from the labour market, creating jobs in places where the private sector fails to deliver them and where public sector regeneration has failed.

“Despite the innovation and fantastic work the sector has shown we haven’t quite landed it with government to have a full understanding of the value of the social sector,” said Vidhya Alekeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change.

Covid-19 might have been good for social enterprise

“Business would be judged by how well they responded to this pandemic and how well they put people and their communities first. This would matter for many years to come and long after the pandemic was over. If you ignored your responsibilities to the most vulnerable, if you abandoned them, it would not be forgotten,” said Steve Murells, group CEO of the Co-op

“Businesses with purpose will be the winners and those that are willing to collaborate on the big issues of the day will be recognised and rewarded by their customers.”