Saying goodbye to the social enterprise ambassadors

The Social Enterprise Ambassadors programme closes after three successful years

Social Enterprise Ambassadors
Social Enterprise Ambassadors

The Social Enterprise Ambassadors programme was launched by the government in 2007 with the ambitious target of persuading 30 leaders of disparate organisations to sing from the same hymn sheet - in praise of social enterprise.

Now, three years and £860,000 later, it has come to an end and, for the most part, those who participated feel it has paid for itself many times over.

"One great benefit has been the publicity the ambassadors have generated for the sector," says Sam Conniff, co-founder of the marketing agency Livity and an ambassador for three years. "Social enterprises often spend time talking to one another, but this programme has reached out to a lot of people in the public and private sectors.

"There have also been real, measurable outcomes. The one I'm proudest of is the deal we negotiated with O2. Not only is it providing a special business package for social entrepreneurs, but it has made social enterprise part of its procurement process. That would not have been possible without the ambassadors."

Conniff says he is disappointed that the current programme is ending, but feels the project could still continue. "Our group has run its natural life, but it would be good to carry on the project with a new generation of entrepreneurs," he says.

Daniel Heery, manager of the technology social enterprise Cybermoor and another ambassador, thinks the current group still has work to do. "There are always more people we can reach," he says. "We are currently working with the NHS and the banks, which will continue."

Claire Dove, chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition and chief executive of the social enterprise company Blackburne House, says the project has raised the profile of the social enterprise movement outside the capital.

"It's made the movement less London-centric," she says. "There are ambassadors all over the country who can speak for it. And it has empowered them: they feel they have the right to speak on behalf of social enterprises."

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