Friday, 18 September 2009

Launching the Social investment Business.

Central Hall. One thousand people. Real interest and excitement about our plans to grow and create a billion pound investment business to drive growth in our great sector. As a new organisation we are ambitious. And unapologetic about that. And isn't that what we need? This is a sector that is defined by its huge ideas and drive. We want to put capital behind the achievement of these ideas. As I said in my speech; I haven't yet met a CEO who says to me " my driving ambition is to be small", but those who say their ambition is to eradicate child poverty or end discrimination against disabled people...those are big ambitions and we want to invest in them.

So I started by commenting on the ‘retro statement’ at the TUC Conference in which members of the audience held up ‘No Cuts’ placards. The sector needs to forget such statements and engage in dialogue on reform and conveying ideas for improved efficiency. There are plenty of opportunities for the sector to move forward. The power and strength of the third sector is bigger than its ever been, employing more staff than the banking and financial sector combines; with a £120 billion annual turnover.

That means the third sector is a real economic force, which provides a real role to engage with whichever Party wins the next election.

Although great progress has been made, there is still exclusion from capital markets. I argued we must adopt the American model for a Community Reinvestment Act.

And naturally I called for a Social Investment Bank to be established. Interestingly Francis Maude MP echoed my words on the SIB (and he did not use that absurd expression "wholesaler"). He said we should set it up without delay and that we should use the dormant assets which are there to use. It is clear that though the current Government feel unable to move on this, a Conservative one will.

We have come a long way since The Adventure Capital Fund was started in 2002 at £2.8 million for a one year programme, before growing to £15 million and being evaluated as an unequivocal success, proving the benefits of loans to community enterprise. With FBE etc, the SIB now stands as a business of £410 million. We have ambitions to grow to be a £1Billion fund.

As well as speakers like Francis Maude MP, the key Tory in charge of implementation for any new Government, we had international experts. M Hugues Sibille from France was the first Third Sector Minister in the Jospin Government. He is the Director-General of Crédit Coopératif and also Chairman of a capital-raising institution for the social economy and actively involved in helping develop social entrepreneurship in France.

Crédit Coopératif is a cooperative bank that generates around €350 million per year in net banking income, employs 2,000 people and has total assets of €11 billion and €1.1 billion of capital.

It is the largest bank in France’s third sector. It is a genuine cooperative bank belonging to some 32,000, essentially third sector, organisations, including NGOs, cooperatives and mutual insurance companies.

He said: "The relative weight of what in France we call the social economy is immense. It accounts for 10% of GDP and employs 2.2 million people and is attracting ever increasing support from local authorities. Within this social economy, cooperative and mutual banks dominate, accounting for 60% of all deposits. Third sector organisations have an extensive network of local banks at their disposal.

A significant proportion of the country’s health and social sector is managed by not-for-profit organisations, which employ some 1.5 million people. The total budget of French NGOs is €60 billion, of which 40% comes from the state, social security organisations and local authorities."

Then Prof Lester Salamon, Head of Johns Hopkins Centre for Civil Society gave a tremendous and compelling vision of the scope of social investment worldwide. He said we are now in a third generation of philanthropy - moving from the largely grants driven culture of the 19th century to a 21st century one of social investment and innovation.

It left delegates with a great vision of what is possible: not limiting our ambitions. It was a privilege for me for be with a great bunch of speakers, but also to there at the launch of what will become a major force in the UK's social investment market. To be the first Chair of the Social Investment Business is a serious honour!


Market Research said...

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Sir Robin Bogg said...

Call me a cynic but is the above comment merely an attempt to drive traffic to the poster's website? A low, low trick, which you wouldn't catch me dabbling in.

Pontus Westerberg said...

And I'll do the same! The website for The Social Investment Business is

Sir Stephen Bubb said...

and can I say that the Robin Bogg blog is a must read at acevo , and elsewhere no doubt. I thoroughly enjoy it....usually. although sometimes somewhat cruel I take my hat off to the humour and inventiveness Robin ; even if sometimes parody and truth start the vitriol of some of the comments i have to suffer anyway!

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