I currently have the fortune to be supporting a group of South Korean social entrepreneurs who are studying for MBAs – as part of their international syllabus, they’re spending a week with Sheffield University (apparently Sheffield is one of the unofficial UK capitals of social enterprise – who knew?), and it’s there that I’m sitting on pitch panels and offering several days of mentoring support, along with other luminaries of sector support (including Laura Bennett, Morgan Killick, Andi Stamp, Dave Thornett, Jamie Veitch, and Nick Temple)
And while sitting in on one of the students’ sessions which offered them an initial orientation as to the history (and possible futures) of social enterprise in the UK, I got to reflecting on Sheffield's role in the wider landscape of social enterprise.
Sheffield is famous for many things, but perhaps most memorably, a movie called ‘The Full Monty’. It charted the fortunes of a group of unemployed steel workers who form a dance troupe and do strip routines… and I got to wondering if this made it a contender for being a movie that promotes the social enterprise model more generally?
Social enterprise is about people harnessing their available resources, skills, talent, (and sometimes baravdo and bluster – see some of Tim Smit’s ‘confessions’ in his books about his journey as a social entrepreneur…), in order to overcome challenges being faced by people (such as the poverty and deprivation caused by long-term unemployment).
And the ex-steel workers who formed their dance troupe were part of a community that faced economic decline and increasing deprivation caused by widespread long-term unemployment and a loss of employment opportunities.
Through their ‘market offer’ they not only created employment, but also attracted more investment into that city through customers coming in from outside the area, spending money to see their shows, and brought hope back to those who had seen only hopelessness before.
So – The Fully Monty: required viewing for anyone wanting to learn about social enterprise in the UK? (and what other movies might be similarly disguised propaganda for social enterprise..?)