Tag Archives: social enterpreneurs UK

Dragons with Heart and Ethics

7 Aug

We have less money, more freedom, crapper clothes...But more friends. Probably.

Many of our friends and business/ charitable contacts know that myself and ‘that Ian’ have set up some very ground-breaking social enterprises. Stuff that has captured a hell of a lot of attention from around the world – i.e.  www.oromocoffee.org http://www.lyf.org.uk/programmes/ ….We have set this kind of thing up on zero funding – just a shoestring and calling in favours from people.  But the thrust of everything that we do has been about supporting developing countries to create sustainable livelihoods – whilst at the same time giving communities from disadvantaged areas in the UK the knowledge and experience to utilise their entrepreneurial talents.

We don’t really ‘do’ TV promo. We tend not to work with successful entrepreneurs who want to get their name ‘out there’.   But we DO like to watch Dragon’s Den and rant (at the Dragons) for being so bloody money and profit minded. For being so non-community and non-global-good obsessed. My own personal, frothing at the mouth moment was when Monsieur Theo ticked off an entrepreneur and creater of the You Doo doll (Sarah Lu) for using her Auntie to stitch the dolls (as opposed to outsourcing to the Far East). Silly girl!! I t would have added an enormous profit percentage for her if only she had exploited the desperately poor of the world in this way….

(Sheesh Theo! You might have snazzy specs and a swanky suit, but how the hell do you sleep at night??)

Us? I’m afraid that we are the entrepreneurs that the BBC doesn’t throw big wads of moolah at in order to draft in the TV viewers in their millions.  We tend to shop at the local hospice charity shops as opposed to Harvey Nicks or some London Fashion House.   Our kids are so used to second hand birthday presents that they complain if they have to unwrap anything that is wrapped in cellophane.  We choose to spend our holidays – sans Nanny –  in  a damp cottage rented off poverty stricken nuns in Whitby – rather than jet round the world, topping up  the carbon footprint nicely every time we draw breath.

Hey, we might be a *tad* self righteous. But at least we’re trying…’

Anyway. I just suggested to Ian that one of us should be the LATEST Dragon.  We mutually choked on our dinners and suggested that our standard line, would sadly have to be;

“I love your idea, I think your business plan is very sound.  I’d love to invest. But I’m poor as buggery. And I’m a bit more into making money for everyone else other than me. Call me an Idiot if you will.  Maybe my kids will hate me when my Last Will and Testament is finally read.  But I imagine that they will be in the slums of Calcutta, washing filthy beggars and being as happy as Larry.  So.  For that reason. I’m out.”

Launch of the OCC - Bishop of Manchester, James Purnell (then Sec of State for Work and Pensions) and members of the Oromo Community in the UK