Silly question you might say if you've seen the dour old sod on Dragon's Den. But I have been reading his book and, although he punches the odd person, I can't help - as someone who has been through start-up, felt patronised by posh twats etc - liking the bloke.
What isn't so obvious about the guy is the stuff he's being doing for 20 years mainly overseas. A visit to Romania in 1990 shocked him to the core and he has since worked with social entrepreneurs to set up `Casa Bannatyne' to help orphaned children. While there are those who will mock his naming decision, it wasn't all just vanity. The name partly comes from the fact that he gets most of his customers to sign up to support it too, and of couse the name-resonance helps there I am sure.
Altogether, Bannatyne has probably put in many millions both to this and to other projects around the world. He chooses people carefully and doesn't get heavily involved in the detail. But he is also more than a mere donor and is active in seeking business-like solutions to social problems.
Liam Black was asked recently by an Asian businessman `What is a social entrepreneur?' Liam's response was that a social entrepreneur is defined by what he or she does or achieves - and forget the rest of the Boring Debate. While this sets aside some important questions about how certain philanthropists get rich in the first place (Mittal etc), there is something powerful in what Liam is saying. And there are definitely many social entrepreneurs who in state-subsidised CICs and co-ops who not achieving anything much for their efforts.
The reason I wrote this blog, as well as to recommend Bannatyne's book - was to say that I don't think the discussion of social entrepreneurship should either be confined to a limited few who run CICs/Co-ops or whatever BUT neither should it be viewed as a club to which ANYONE with money who splashes the cash should join either. How that money has been accumulated has to come into the picture.
But overall, I think we have to be broad in our conceptualisation of social entrepreneurship if all of us involved in changing society through our organiations are to link arms and become a world-force in the difficult few decades to come.