Daily breaking news, game changing developments and dizzying talks of scale. Constantly sharing, impressed by ideas and awestruck by slick execution. Excited, always excited. Having worked in tech for over 2 years I can confirm that I have the caught the bug.
Interestingly, the majority of these things can also be said about Social Enterprise. Add the fact that you’re helping to solve real social problems and it’s no wonder I now spend most of the week fuelled by adrenaline. Dizzying talks of scale are perhaps the only thing that I miss in the Social Enterprise sector, that is, until now. Social Entrepreneurs have started using technology to make what I can only describe as a heady mix of social impact and scale and as the two worlds collide I’m excited all over again.
The movement of technology into the social enterprise space is probably to be expected. Technology is now a fundamental part of businesses, regardless of sector, but it’s fantastic to see that this movement has been actively encouraged by key Social Enterprise supporters. I recently attended the launch event of a new partnership between one of the UK’s biggest supporters of Social Enterprise, UnLtd, and tech-startup incubator, Wayra. WayraUnltd is currently looking for tech focussed social enterprises to pitch for an incredible support package including £40,000 in funding and 8 months of free incubation space (Closing date 24th June).
Another huge player in terms of Social Enterprise support is Nesta, who has already supported a large number of tech focussed social enterprises as part of its Innovation in Giving award. The Government invested over £10 million in the Innovation in Giving Fund as it believes technology is the key to reversing the decreasing trend in giving, which it noted in its most recent Giving White Paper. Technology certainly has the power to make giving more convenient and fun, just look at JustGiving as a good example of this.
The Pennies Foundation was one of the key benefactors of the fund described in the White Paper. This clever service allows the public to easily round up a card payment to the nearest pound and donate the extra pennies to charity. (See Robson Green describe the scheme in more detail in this video).
Pennies certainly offers an inspiring example of how technology can be used to update an existing concept, in this instance the charity box, to stay in tune with the way we now pay for things.
Digital payments aside, I am currently very interested to see whether mobile gaming can be used to offer social benefit. Most people have become unwittingly addicted to a mobile game at some point (looking at you New Star Soccer) and have all felt the pang of guilt after the temporary feeling of achievement. What if you could somehow leverage your in game achievements to help someone in real life? Now that would feel good. As well as providing the perfect excuse to keep playing :)
Written as part of my role as Social Entrepreneur in Residence for the University of Bath’s School of Management.