- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (1 Jan. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1843546612
- ISBN-13: 978-1843546610
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Social Entrepreneur: Making Communities Work Paperback – 1 Jan 2008
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"'The Richard Branson of the social sector.' Libby Purves on Andrew Mawson '[Mawson] combines the conscience of the social activist harnessed to the can-do skills of the modern business shaker.' Independent"
Social entrepreneurs are cutting through ideology and red tape and making real, lasting social change. Britain's leading social entrepreneur shows how, and why, it works.
'Andrew Mawson is social justice in motion. A hard hitting, tough talking gentle doer of big business change. This book is essential if you want a future.' John Bird, founder and editor-in-chief, The Big IssueSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
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Mawson describes a familar path of fulfilment and profound frustration. My experience is business- good - charities - bad, I'm so glad that Mawson agrees. If you 'make things happen', you seem to loose the ability to have a dialogue with councillors, think tanks and academics - Mawson explains why. He doesn't use statistics or quote from academic theorists, he just tells stories.
I ran a community website in Paddington and Bayswater for seven years, then I moved to Bournemouth and set up a creative group called BomoCreatives. I shall be urging my fellow members to read this book.
Then I began to learn about social enterprise, in fact I practically stumbled in to it and it challenged the kind of thinking I've been inundated with for years. So, I bought this book to find out more, to learn and learn I have. This book has really focussed and crysallised my understanding of the kind of people and principles that underpin social enterprise, the scope available, the kinds of challenges posed and also puts them in to the recent political framework. It asks, answers and then challenges us all with a solution. I hope this is what David Cameron means by his 'Big Society,' and would urge him to read this book if he hasn't already.
I have learnt that the terms 'Enterprise,' and 'leadership,' are not dirty words in social care but could in fact be the answer I have been craving for, for so long. I've worked for a couple of the organisations mentioned in this book and can only confirm an all round ringing endorsement to Andrew Mawson for this book. I also offer the author a personal thank you for re-invigorating a jaded veteran. Whoever you are, if you care about the area you live in, buy this book.
I was expecting a practical introduction to the idea of the 'social enterprise', part definition of this buzz-word that rubbed alongside 'Big Society' at the 2010 General Election (but, I have discovered, has older roots in British political consciousness than that, coming to the fore with Tony Blair's 1997 speech on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark), part 'How to' guide. I wanted to find out what this phenomenon of the social enterprise what about - a charity that makes profit? A business that generates social good? How do you get into it, and make it work? And is it ethical to 'do good' while making a decent living out of it? And can you?
I am a self-professed idealist. I hope to always be so. As someone who moved from the private to the public sector seeking idealistically to 'make a difference to real people's lives' rather than work for the bottom line and the interests of shareholders, I found my own self-justifications and even worldview challenged my Mawson's undisguised contempt for the interventions of the 'State' into deprived urban communities. From the experiences he details, you can understand why. The beaurocracy, the resistance to change, the failure to engage with the real needs and aspirations of real people and how to give them a say and a stake in bringing about their own change.
Mawson is also dismissive of much of the left and those he falls into the tabloid trap of categorising as 'do-gooders'. He suggests that, rather than people primarily driven by altrusitic motives and social conscience, people with experience of the cut and thrust of business and the private sector should be entrusted with developing new models for and delivering public services. However, while there is much value in his argument, and he does recognise that there are talented, innovative and dynamic people in the public sector, he fails to fully explore the ethical implications of this business approach in terms of profit and never mentions 'capitalism'.
And this is where Mawson comes a bit unstuck for me. He extolls the virtues of people with real business experience using that experience to bring about positive outcomes for people in poor communities. Yet what are Mawon's business credentials? We learn that Mawson came to Bow as a young United Reform minister - a man of the cloth. We don't hear of his background in business, if any - so where does his assertion that business is best when it comes to social change come from? In his book Mawson fails to deliver a fully formed biographical account of his journey from priest to entrepreneurial powerhouse, which would have given a deeper understanding of the basis of his thinking and how his philosophy has evolved.
The book also feels patchy as a 'story' of Mawson's Bromley-by-Bow experience over 30 years, leaping from early explorations of his social enterprise model in a run-down church hall in the early 1980s to the New Labour years and nearer to the present day. How that progression came about remains something of a mystery and means that, at least for the uninitiated, our understanding of how social enterprises start, grow and bring real change to their communities is left incomplete.
However, in Mawson's defence it's clearly not his intention to walk us through a 'how to' guide by the hand. That would be too 'nanny state'. Rather, he urges us to 'learn by doing', to plunge in head first, get on with it, make mistakes and find out what works and what doesn't. The snapshots of stories and characters he does recount are moving and genuinely inspirational, even if they are not joined up with a tidy, linear chronological thread. The result is a book that feels just a little light - but that leaves you wanting to fill in the gaps by discovering something of what he's talking about yourself.
At times there is a temptation to picture Mawon as a pin-striped Tory capitalist 'doing good', though at he times sounds like a classic Liberal, at others like a (now jaded) disciple of New Labour. The fact he now sits as a crossbench peer suggests that, while happy to take his place in the Eastablishment, he refuses to nail his colours to a (party) political mast.
I also felt it would have been really useful if the author had given more detailed advice on HOW to go about doing the things he did. Some good ideas in this though.
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