AN ENGLISH AGENDA IN SCOTLAND

Scots Ask Questions about Short Term Survival

This is a brief reflection on the the Social Enterprise Exchange in Glasgow on Tuesday 27 March which Huckfield attended.

During the question times, especially for Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, most of the Scots asked practical questions about how their organisation might survive from this year to the next. For many English questioners the answer seemed to be more private investment.

“Structured Investment Products”

So now we all know. The future of Social Enterprise means “Structured Investment Products”.

Huckfield attended the Afternoon Masterclass Session: “Capital Advice: the risks, realities and rewards of social investment“. Anyone attending could hardly have have missed its English flavour.

Caroline Mason from Big Society Capital still saw a future for grant funding, but emphasised its role in funding technical assistance for becoming ready for Big Society Bank’s forthcoming loans. One or two near me muttered something about “surely most local banks would offer advice on getting ready for outside investment?”.

At the end of this session, contributors were asked about the next five years. Geoff Burnand from Investing for Good and Social Investment Business made several references the Scope Charity Bond, in which he had been involved. The Scope Charity Bond is a carefully structured investment product:

“The Scope Bond Programme will be listed on the Euro MTF market in Luxembourg, a recognised stock exchange which has a strong presence in capital markets and a proven record for supporting social investment. The programme will be subject to the same regulation and protection offered to corporate bond investors and a prospectus will be available on request from the programme arranger, Investing for Good.

“Alongside Investing for Good, the Scope Bond Programme has been developed through close collaboration with several other City partners including BNY Mellon, acting as fiscal agent and registrar, Capita acting as nominee holder, and with legal expertise provided by Linklaters and Weil, Gotshal and Manges, who have all offered pro bono support to the charity.”

At the end of this Afternoon Masterclass Session, contributors were asked to sum up. Caroline Mason couldn’t wait to begin lending to Social Enterprises, presumably those made “investment ready” through grant funding. Geoff Burnand saw the future in a proliferation of more “structured investment products”. As they left this session, few Scots seemed in much doubt. This was an English agenda.

Launch of the Voluntary Code for Social Enterprise

Perhaps all these investment banker contributions from South of the Border represented one of the reasons for a full house for the launch of Senscot’s Voluntary Code for Social Enterprise. The basis of the Code is that investment for personal gain is not the way to take Social Enterprise forward.

Aidan Pia, Senscot’s Executive Director, read out Laurence Demarco’s intended speech, especially its conclusion:

“The prevailing view, we believe, is that (in Mohamed Yunus`s words):

“The real power of SE can only be unlocked by the total delinking of personal gain from the social mission”.

“If we`ve got the vibe wrong – the Code will simply disappear. But if we`ve got it right, the Code will spread – and could help consolidate Scotland as a world leader in Social Enterprise”

This fitted easily alongside Scotland’s First Minister’s offer of financial assistance for Social Enterprise organisations in setting up their international headquarters in Scotland.

Conclusion

It is the Senscot Code rather than “structured investment products” which Huckfield and many Scots will take away from the Glasgow event.