Social enterprise initiative lacks direction, experts say

The Government-funded initiative to raise the profile of social enterprise is unfocused and lacks direction, according to several of the 33 experts appointed to act as social enterprise ambassadors under the scheme.

Ambassadors: meeting with Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office
Ambassadors: meeting with Prime Minister and the Cabinet Office

The idea of appointing ambassadors to tell their stories at high-level events and in the media was set out in the Office of the Third Sector's social enterprise action plan in November 2006.

After a meeting last week to discuss the initiative, one ambassador, who asked not to be named, told Third Sector: "There is a shared criticism that the scheme hasn't been focused enough or got ambassadors into the right places or levels."

Some ambassadors at the London event were dissatisfied with PR company Hanover. It was suggested the ambassadors should reclaim its annual £68,000 fee and promote themselves.

A Hanover spokeswoman said it was committed to the scheme, provided a significant pro bono contribution each year and wanted to continue working with the ambassadors. The Social Enterprise Coalition has overall responsibility for the scheme as part of a £600,000 deal.

Jonathan Bland, chief executive of the coalition, said the programme would become more targeted. He said the ambassadors were due to launch two campaigns: 'People', which will focus on attracting new entrants to the sector, and 'Growth and Scale', which will aim to take social enterprise to the next level.

Sam Conniff, an ambassador and co-founder of youth marketing enterprise Livity, said the "feisty" group had to focus on agreeing goals.

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