Time for a change – more focus on social entrepreneurship

24 Sep

The observant among you will have noticed that I’ve changed the strapline on this blog to reflect my current interests – namely “social entrepreneurship” (of which more below), financial services, and public policy.

It’s an eclectic mix – but its foundation is my training as an economist, and how I’ve spent my time since graduating in 1975 – firstly, 10 years as an economist in government (including 5 years at H M Treasury in the early 1980s), and then 25 odd years in management consulting, focusing first on public policy questions and then for the last 15 years on financial services.

Social entrepreneurship is new. Over the last year or so since leaving IBM I have become increasingly interested in the role business (including small business) can play in helping to solve social problems, both in the UK and overseas, and have started to network more widely (my first meeting with Business Fights Poverty –  http://businessfightspoverty.org – is tomorrow). To my mind, this is an idea whose time has come – I was delighted to see that Esther Duflo (co-author with Abhijit Banerjee of Poor Economics) was this year’s Marshall Lecturer at Cambridge, and Georgia Keohane’s book and lecture, at the LSE, on Social Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century was also inspiring. Like Keynes, I think it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil – in this case, very much for good.

There are of course important links between these themes. Social entrepreneurship, as Keohane shows, is highly dependent on the public policy framework, and finance and investment play a major role in economic development. Of course, sometimes it is tempting just to abandon an avenue – looking at the latest financial mis-selling scandals, you feel the industry is like the Bourbons “they have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”.  But I still find things I want to say.

So I hope you will like this eclectic mix – and I would welcome your feedback!

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