Global social innovation round-up #35

Prison reforms welcomed in the UK

This week in the UK the Queen’s speech set out the government’s programme for the next session of parliament. Amongst the most discussed announcements made in the House of Lords on Wednesday was the reform of the prison system. The Queen stated: “Prison governors will be given unprecedented freedom and they will be able to ensure prisoners receive better education. Old and inefficient prisons will be closed and new institutions built where prisoners can be put more effectively to work.”

This could be good news for social enterprises that work with ex-offenders including Bounce Back and Blue Sky. Managing director at Blue Sky Kate Markey said: "Preparing for a crime-free life on the outside means starting the work-ready journey on the inside. And the most appropriate people to make the decision on how best their serving prisoners can be rehabilitated is the governor of their prison."

CEO of Social Enterprise UK Peter Holbrook said: “We welcome a move towards rehabilitation for those in prison. Social enterprises working with ex-offenders have an enviable record of reducing re-offending rates and should be very well placed to work with reform-minded prison governors.”

Social enterprises working with ex-offenders have an enviable record

However he added that the government has missed an opportunity by not extending the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. “Our research shows that a number of Councils are using the Social Value Act in interesting and creative ways – leading to the delivery of quality public services while saving costs at a time when commissioning and procurement teams are under pressure to serve communities with considerably less money available. Unfortunately many Councils are still not using the Social Value Act – extending and strengthening this piece of legislation is likely to be the only stimulus that some Councils will react to,” Holbrook concluded.

Acumen America opens its doors in the US

Having been founded in 2001 as a non-profit global venture fund, Acumen has over the past 15 years invested $101m in enterprises that are working to tackle poverty in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. This week Acumen America was launched to provide support to the nearly 47 million people living in poverty in the US.

According to its website, ‘Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty’. Acumen America has been launched with the backing of four key partners; Barclays, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Hitachi Foundation and Bain & Company. Its initial investments in the US focus on ‘healthcare, workforce development and financial inclusion’. Acumen America’s first healthcare investment was in Healthify, which is a ‘software provider to health plans, hospitals and provider networks serving low-income communities in the U.S’.

Southwest of England proving to be SITR hotspot

Bristol based social enterprise PAPER Arts (team pictured below) has received £250,000 of investment, the majority of which has come from the new Resonance Bristol Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) Fund. PAPER Arts supports creative young people who are unemployed to develop their entrepreneurial and employability skills through art. It has taken on investment to acquire a property in Bristol, which will provide the space for new studios and training areas that will enable the team to engage with at least four times the number of people their current building allows.

Paper Arts social enterprise_Bristol

CEO of PAPER Arts Simone Kidner said: “Gaining social investment from the Resonance Bristol SITR Fund and Esmée Fairbairn has been a pivotal moment for PAPER Arts. With their support, we now have the opportunity to expand and develop a business model that will secure our long term sustainability as well as dramatically increasing our social impact.”

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the Bristol SITR Fund made its first investment into South Bristol Sports Centre.

Former Desperate Housewife turns into social investment ambassador

Actress, philanthropist and businesswoman Eva Longoria is to become an ambassador for Turner Impact Capital’s Multifamily Impact Fund, which invests in affordable housing for low income families. Turner Impact Capital is one of the fastest-growing investment firms dedicated to social impact investing in the US.

The former star of Desperate Housewives and founder of the Eva Longoria Foundation will work to raise awareness about the shortage of affordable housing and champion market-driven solutions to tackle inequality and other widespread social issues in the US.

Eva Longoria_social entrepreneur

This week it was also announced that Longoria is to be on the judging panel for Chivas’ The Venture, a competition that seeks social entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas that address major social challenges. She said: “I'm delighted to be part of the judging panel… and can't wait to hear the unique stories behind the 27 start-ups from across the world. Social enterprise has such a huge part to play in the future of business and it is something that is very close to my heart."

Rwanda's first lady backs social entrepreneurship

At a gala dinner in celebration of the 2016 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Awardees for Africa, which was organised by Motsepe Foundation and Schwab Foundation, first lady Jeannette Kagame hailed social entrepreneurship as as a "powerful" means to promote economic transformation across the African continent. 

According to All Africa, Kagame said: "It is quite interesting to see that this field of entrepreneurship, so often perceived as a means to make one richer, can also be such a powerful tool to uplift others, as tonight's laureates have shown us."

Kagame is the wife of the president of Rwanda Paul Kagame, who took office in 2000. The awards evening was dedicated to social entrepreneurs from 11 organisations  operating in more than 70 countries and addressing a range of social issues from child labour to climate change. 

Save the date! Social Enterprise Exchange Marketplace launched in Scotland

Social Enterprise Scotland has announced the launch of a new Social Enterprise Marketplace event, the first of which will take place on 21 March 2017 in Edinburgh. The event will be a national trade fair for social enterprises and will offer attendees networking and knowledge sharing opportunities. Stay tuned for more information.