It is one of the perennial debates of social enterprise. Making 'serious' amounts of money out of social enterprise, so goes the argument, is a moral hazard and creates major conflicts of interest. Does it encourage mission drift and prioritise profit over purpose? Moreover this greedy Gordon Gecko world-view is what got the global economy into such trouble – isn't social enterprise supposed to be a fairer, more sustainable way of doing business?
Yet why shouldn't social enterpreneurs and their investors, seek financial reward for the hardwork, commitment and risks they take to create social ventures? Aren't they more deserving of reward than conventional entrepreneurs? Finding investors who are willing to back high-risk, early-stage social ventures is tricky – why make it even harder by dictating what returns they can and can't make?
At the social investment conference Good Deals, UnLtd convened a debate to get to the bottom of the early-stage social investment conundrum once and for all. Arguing for the motion, 'This house believes it's prefectly reasonable and right to make serious money out of serious social impact' were Ian Bastow, CFO of Patients Know Best and entrepreneur, angel investor and social enterprise advisor Andy Yates. Opposing was Ethex Managing Director, Jamie Hartzell and Nick Temple of Social Enterprise UK. Dan Lehner, head of Ventures at UnLtd chaired.
So, the decision? Well, the motion carried – just. But what do you think? Read transcripts of the proposing and opposing arguments and let us know on Twitter or comment on Facebook.
The next phase of Big Venture Challenge opens for applications from January 8th 2013. Over the next 3 years, we’ll be supporting 100 new social entrepreneurs – alongside ClearlySo, Shaftesbury Partnership and Social Investment Business – and with an additional £5million of match-funding provided by the Big Lottery Fund.