Today has been a most interesting day. But, as the non existent winter sun is about to set in London, I find myself with a bit of an identity crisis. Where do we find like minded social enterprises working to enhance social value outside our own communities? Where are the other international development actors working with an ethical and entrepreneurial business approach to development with communities in other countries?
Watipa surely is not alone. But where are the spaces that could connect us? If you are a social enterprise working in the field of international development, we want to hear from you.
Today I participated the Social Value Summit in London. The meeting was held at a stunning venue overlooking the river Thames, with a terrific view of Waterloo Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster. It was a very interesting day, hearing ideas and learning about experiences from really excellent local work in different communities around the country. Organised by Social Enterprise UK, the speakers spanned a range of perspectives from local authorities, national government, big business and organisations delivering public services with a social value – not only an economic value – as part of their operational model.
The core values of doing business while doing good resonated strongly with the work of Watipa. As did the emphasis on community-led and person-centered approaches to achieving social outcomes. Partnerships were also explored as ways to enhance each of our areas of work and learn from different kinds of experiences. Yet all the same, while respecting the work being achieved locally here in the UK, Watipa seemed to be alone in how and where we work and also our measures of success.
At the Summit, the importance of place was emphasised, with a workshop that focussed on bringing together different actors and linking services within the one specific area to enhance social value. The scope of “place” was tiny in some examples, limited to one community within one postcode, but with a large impact. Speakers stressed the importance of understanding local context in order to measure indicators of success. For us at Watipa, place can mean something more metaphoric than literal, connecting people in different counties, with a common goal. Are there other social enterprises out there with this broader geographical sense of place that connects the communities with which we work?
In terms of legislation, activists and Members of Parliament there today celebrated the announcement of the second review of the Social Value Act in England and Wales, and compared it with other jurisdictions from as far afield as… Scotland, just across the border to the North. There is some really dynamics and innovative work at the policy level also happening in other countries, are there spaces that connect legislators, activists and parliamentarians to learn from others at the global level?
As a social enterprise working with an innovative business model in supporting young people in developing countries to achieve their dreams and transform their communities, Watipa has a foot in many different camps. We are enterprising and entrepreneurial. We are seeking to achieve social as well as economic value by doing good by doing good business. We are working to build social value in partnership with communities to develop solutions to the daily challenges they perceive. It’s just that we are yet to find other organisations doing this with communities internationally… and we would like to find you, connect, learn, share and be stronger together.
With Rosie the riveter* in mind, we want you to join us! Or get in touch, so that we can join you! Let’s connect like-minded organisations and individuals passionate about doing development differently to enhance social and economic outcomes. Let’s connect the global with the local. Let’s connect entrepreneurial, business and social values with international development.
*For those not familiar with Rosie the riveter, she is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories and shipyards during the Second World War.