That is: at the launch of the new French movement for social entrepreneurs in Paris today. This is a new association for the leaders of French social enterprises and I was there to bring fraternal greetings and to talk about the work of the Social Investment Business. They are deeply interested in how the UK Government supports innovation in the third sector through loan finance.
It always fun to be at the start of a new movement and to make links between Leaders of our European third sector. And, even though it was pouring rain, always fun to be in one of the worlds greatest capital cities.
I'm afraid my command of french is pathetic. My O-Level is not up to much after some 40 years. But I managed my opening paragraph in French and they politely applauded. The other paragraphs were in English, which many of them pretended they did not follow!
We are also interested in the potential for a European Social Investment Bank, which builds on the success of our own loan model, but expanded across Europe to support the growth of the sector. The sector is big scale in many European countries - in France the cooperative and mutual organisations are big scale and traditional charities run many services.
It is clear that the EU needs to support and promote the social economy more widely. And perhaps the UK's sector should look more to what we can learn from our European third sector colleagues. That is why the Euclid Network was set up some three years ago as a grouping for sector leaders across Europe. From small beginnings it has achieved much; not last acceptance by the Commission of our role in facilitating consultations on reforming the EU's tortuous funding schemes for our sector. And the UK has much to teach in terms of our connections and roles working with Government on policy to promote our sector and its role in society!
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