As Kwasi Kwarteng was unable to attend, this ended up being a bit of a cocktail of a session consisting of 2 parts ‘How can social enterprises play their part in the government’s proposed green industrial revolution’ to 1 part ‘How can we mainstream social enterprise within the economy’

The Government is pushing its version of a ‘green industrial revolution’

In his recording the minister focused on the importance of the recently announced  “green industrial revolution,” which he said would produce “up to 250,000” jobs, and encouraged businesses to play their part to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He cited the £500m the government would make available to car makers in the Midlands to transition to producing electric cars. All this was great … but he didn’t mention what role social enterprises have to play in any of this. “Achieving our net zero goal requires all businesses to take action to reduce their emissions.”

Embed a culture of questioning to ensure you’re focused on sustainability

To be a part of the “green industrial revolution, social enterprises have to walk the walk, by, for example, switching to green energy suppliers and encouraging staff to challenge within the organisation. “You have to be able to show that you are making progress or looking at your packaging and ensuring it is biodegradable or recyclable. It’s about embedding a culture of questioning within our organisation,” said Rosie Ginday, who runs Miss Macaroon.

Creating jobs in the green industrial revolution will require local engagement

Rosie thought the best way the government could do this was engage in market building – working with organisations who are already working with, and maybe even come from, local communities. “Often it’s easier to go for the bigger organisations that have existing relationships in place with local government but they don’t necessarily have that connection and trust with the communities they are trying to reach,” said Rosie.

A revolution is already underway

It’s been said a few times before over the last twenty years, but Louisa Ziane of Toast Ale said she thought there was still (still!) a bit of confusion over what social enterprises were – she still gets asked how Toast is a charity. “But we are seeing a growing number of movements that are focusing on the role that business can play in society in a responsible way that moves us away from the impression that business is either charitable or maximising profits for shareholders, to seeing business’s role in society in a much more positive way. There does seem to be somewhat of a revolution happening … and social enterprise needs to have a louder voice and be at the forefront of that.”