Because one always wants to remember the first time – below is a transcript of my first live TV interview. I was asked to explain social enterprise, social investment and EngagedX in 2 minutes…
– Transcript –
BBC World News – Business Edition
11 Sept 2014, 21:00 BST
Karl H Richter (KHR) live TV interview with Jamie Robertson (JR)
JR: Now these are the days when governments around the world are of course under pressure to reign in public spending and it often leads to gaps in spending on social problems, and that in turn has led to the rise of a new kind of business person – the social entrepreneur. A new study out today by the UK Government suggests that as people become more sceptical about big business, the market for these entrepreneurs is growing. So how viable is this sector? So what exactly is this sector? Maybe we ought to find out, and to help me do that – Karl Richter from EngagedX, which aims to establish a financial index for social enterprises. If you’re going to have an index, you got to know what a social enterprise is. What is a social enterprise?
KHR: In simple terms a social enterprise is a business run by people who are passionate about creating positive social value or positive environmental impact, and within that spectrum of the definition there is quite a broad range and it means different things to different people.
JR: Yeah, I mean you could argue that, I don’t know, a company like GE creates something beneficial. It creates jobs, it pays its way, it has new inventions, innovation and all the rest of it. I’m sure GE would say that it is social enterprise of the sort.
KHR: Absolutely right, and they do have an impact in society and in the environment. I think what is the distinction here is where we see a certain type of person, a certain type of entrepreneur, having a deliberate passion to hard-wiring that mission into the DNA of their business, so that it’s not just accidental.
JR: What do you mean hard-wiring the DNA of that into their business, can you explain that? Be a bit more specific.
KHR: So it becomes part of their mission. It becomes part of what it is that they do.
JR: Well, give me an example. It might be best if you give me an example.
KHR: Sure. For example, there’s a bus company in London called Hackney Community Transport. They run buses and one of the things that they try do is provide mobility to the elderly.
JR: At a price?
KHR: At a price. They are operating in a market economy. They’re providing services in that sense, other companies are providing goods…
JR: So what do you do? How do you help them or what do you do in terms of your index?
KHR: We capture information about the investment that goes into these organisations. All of these organisations need capital to function, and particularly also repayable capital, and what we do is capture information on that investment going into the business and we then tell the story in financial terms and also social terms. So we talk about the return, and we also expose the risk.
JR: So if I’m an investor, I then look at your index, you have a description or at least analysis of each one of these in terms of how much they give to the community and to the investor. Is that right? I mean of course there are trade-offs within that.
KHR: That’s absolutely right. At the moment what we’re doing is looking specifically at the investments themselves because what we want to do is be able to show the picture as a capital market…
JR: So I can choose. Do I want to make money or do I want to feel good?
KHR: That’s right, or somewhere in between on that spectrum.
JR: All right. Karl Richter, thanks very much indeed.