Friday 10 July 2009

Caritas in Veritate

An interesting Encyclical just published- it's worth a read. And in particular the point Benedict makes about the role of the third sector (and he uses that term David Cameron please note).
He argues "When we consider the issues involved in the relationship between business and ethics, as well as the evolution currently taking place in methods of production, it would appear that the traditionally valid distinction between profit-based companies and non-profit organizations can no longer do full justice to reality, or offer practical direction for the future." So he talks of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres; one that does not exclude profit but considers it a means for achieving social ends.

A fascinating comment and rather apposite in the context of the launch today of a seven year independent evaluation of the Adventure Capital Fund. This looks back at the early days of this new Fund, which was a brave experiment, with Government funds, to put capital investment into community enterprise. The report concludes this experiment has worked. To read "Investing in Thriving Communities" click here.

And the ACF pioneered the concept of a loan fund for the third sector. The ACF has now developed into a powerful social investment business harnessing funds of over £400m to invest in community and social enterprise and delivery of services. It has also laid the grounds for a Social Investment Bank, which we need to see set up with the unclaimed assets money.

When I spoke at the launch I made the point we should learn the lessons - not just in the UK - but wider. I believe we have established there is a strong market for capital in our sector. We know it can achieve real dividends and a social return. So if it works here we should now argue for a European Bank, and as our ambition must not be limited; for a World Social Bank.

The establishment of ACF was a triumph of ideas and ambition. Its what makes me proud to be in the third sector. Our ambition should be limitless. What the Pope outlined provides a powerful backing for new models and support for different forms of enterprise. As a result we are drawing up a briefing on the investment bank idea for the Vatican; one of the advantages of having a highly networked Italian International Director in ACEVO is that he has links at useful levels there.

I also announced at the launch that the FBE Board is looking at proposals to undertake a scoping exercise on a European SIB. It will be led by the Centre for Social Innovation at Heidelberg University. We are already discussing the concept with other European partners and I meet one of the major French mutual banks the week after next to discuss it.

In the meantime ACF-FBE have won the £70m contract to deliver community builders. It's a programme to invest in the development of community anchor organisations. It is good that we now have a vehicle in the Adventure Capital Fund that, together with Futurebuilders, is now able to bring real scale and impact to developing the capital base of our sector. We have been able to put together a social investment business that has assets of nearly £450m. But I suspect we are still in the early stages of development and need to build this market, with a range of players and banks able to meet investment need. Access to capital is the next big frontier for our sector.


Anonymous said...

At any cost, human or otherwise eh?

Anonymous said...

stephen, i've already contacted the Vatican asking for an 'udienza' - meeting with the Pope - for our European third sector leaders. are you ready to meet Sua Santita'