Leading an Economic and Political Systems Shift, with Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK

Social Enterprise UK is the membership and advocacy body for social enterprises in the United Kingdom.

Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK

Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK

Peter Holbrook started his career with the retailer Marks & Spencer. He also worked at The Body Shop. In both cases, he watched values-based companies change after their Initial Public Offering.

Peter wanted to have a social impact with his work, so he worked for Oxfam and for Greenpeace. There, he found organizations that were working on purpose but were missing some of the innovation and drive of for-profit enterprises.

In 2001, he launched Sunlight Development Trust, a community owned and managed charity. Sunlight Development takes an innovative approach. They work in the Medway community in South East England to improve health and well-being. They house a community café, recording studio, and a community radio station, located next to health services.

Peter’s work with Sunlight Development attracted the attention of political parties from both sides of the aisle. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Peter as a Social Enterprise Ambassador. David Cameron visited Sunlight Development on several occasions.

As the leader of a social enterprise, Peter was a member of Social Enterprise UK, the national membership body for social enterprises. When the Chief Executive, Jonathan Bland stepped down, Peter was encouraged by a board member to apply for the role. Peter had been at Sunlight Development for more than ten years. The opportunity at Social Enterprise UK seemed like a chance to get back to his entrepreneurial roots. It also gave him an opportunity to work at the system level to create an economic and political shift.

In the UK, there are around 80,000 social enterprises with a combined revenue of £27 billion per year. Social Enterprise UK conducts research. They run campaigns such as Buy Social and Social Saturday. They develop policy. And they lobby on behalf of their members.

One key piece of legislation that was passed with support from Social Enterprise UK is the Social Value Act. This law requires public authorities to consider the economic, social and environmental implications of contracts. Therefore, instead of only basing government contracts on price and quality, government organizations can look holistically at the impact of their spending. This single piece of legislation can unleash £300 billion in government spending for social good.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Peter Holbrook

“I wanted to bring those two worlds together – commercial thinking, to the world of social change.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I set up an organization without any knowledge of the term social enterprise.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I understand the value of networks.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Running a social enterprise can be a lonely experience.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I’ve always recognized the need for an economic and political shift.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Enthusiasm is a great substitute for talent.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Dare to dream.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“You can genuinely achieve great things if you’re not bothered about who takes the credit.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We can only make the huge change the world desperately needs if we work together.” @peteholbrook, @SocialEnt_UK“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

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