Why did you come today?
I work for a B2B Marketing Magazine. I’m exploring some of the new financing models around small businesses and entrepreneurs and I think there is some overlapping ideas with social enterprises such as lending and community banking to the more technical invoicing companies.
I think in the post-crash world we’ve had too few banks with too much lending capital and I imagine this affects social enterprises as well. It will certainly be pertinent to businesses, if not to the marketers in those businesses.
Small businesses, I think, will get much more of their funding from community sources. If that can be tied into a form of corporate responsibility in a less formalised way, that would be a good thing, but it’s still a very nascent thing.
Why is ‘localised’ funding becoming prevalent?
Yes, I don’t think it’s a question of trust, but necessity. There’s a much greater caution about lending to riskier, low-asset businesses, particularly as most businesses start out in a bedroom these days. There’s nothing to seize if it all goes wrong.
Smaller community lending is going to have to go in and take up that space [the shortfall in lending]. The big banks will still have the money, there won’t be a whole swathe of new lenders. But there will be focus on the big banks setting up smaller, community funds.
In what ways could government help with in both business and social enterprise?
The gap between what bosses are looking for versus what schools are being told to teach is increasing rather than narrowing. In terms of what the government can do is firstly, recognise that as a factor. The things children are being taught are not equipping them to be entrepreneurs or work in businesses.
That business mind-set is helpful to employers and employees, understanding how you fit in the business, that you go to work not because you are part of an infinite pool of money that you draw from, rather than you are working towards a goal of making money and your job is tied to that. The more the government recognises that and recognises that enterprise education needs to be embedded throughout education the better, so you don’t do what I did, which is going to a top university, coming out with a shiny degree and no skills at all in terms of finding a job.
Ken Robinson makes the point that for the last one-hundred and fifty years if you do the best you can at school you become a university professor or a teacher and that means not having a wider appreciation of what people need to function in the wider world.
I have also been a musician. That’s something you should put on your resume because of the organisation it takes, the planning, the budgeting. These are real skills and experience. It’s more knowing how to apply the holistic things everyone does in their life.
If you can teach people that they can do something and make money from it and give something to their community, that’s the ideal goal.