`Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the trouble-making individual.'
Natalie Clifford Barney
Are you a Trouble-Maker? I always have been – ask my Mum! Not in a nasty way, you understand. But always challenging, wanting to do things my own way..
I started my own journey as a social entrepreneur 15 years ago when I worked in care homes for disabled people.
I noticed how much good money was being spent on a really bad system. I saw abuse and suffering. I also noticed how well people did once they had found their voice and made their own choices.
So I quit my job and set up Speaking Up. It was that simple. A year or two without money and sleep. The best and worse of times. Thankfully it came off and Speaking Up now works with thousands of people each year.
But I am still angry. Angry at the way public sector bodies stuffed full of cash simply can’t deliver decent services to disabled people.
Angry at process-obsession I encounter in agencies that have forgotten what it means to make a difference.
That is why I am a social entrepreneur. I believe in a very different world. One in which citizens not bureaucrats put the world to rights. One in which social entrepreneurs are centre-stage not on the edges.
And this is no pipe-dream. History has produced an amazing number of social entrepreneurs who have helped shape our world. Cecily Saunders. Joseph Rowntree. Muhammed Yunus.
And there exciting new names coming through. Like Reed Paget, Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 and a fellow Social Enterprise Ambassador.
Reed used to make documentaries about environmental degradation. Then he decided to actually do something about it and founded Belu (www.belu.org).
Belu sells mineral water in bio-degradable corn bottles and gives its profits to water projects.
You can now buy Belu at Waitrose and satisfy your thirst knowing that, through your purchase, someone else can do the same.
Reed is amazing but he isn’t some kind of superhuman or trust-fund millionaire. He’s just an ordinary bloke who was angry and did something about it. A Trouble-Maker if ever there was one!
If you’re still searching for a New Year resolution try this one. `Make Trouble in 2008!’
If you want to hear more about Reed and the 34 other Social Enterprise Ambassadors go to www.socialenterpriseambassadors.org