Category Archives: social enterprise

Light green is the new black

I can’t claim to have been in the forefront of the environmental movement, although I have just installed a hyper-efficient condensing boiler at great expense (the old one was done for).

So it has come as something of a surprise to discover that various tones of ‘greenness’ have been catagorised and documented.

Light_greenThis knowledge was triggered by a reference to Light Green  – The Eco-chic Emporium.

According to Wikipedia, light greens are just one of three shades of green.

Dark greens, light greens and bright greens

Alex Steffen describes contemporary environmentalists as being split into three groups, “dark”, “light”, and “bright” greens.[7]

Light greens” see protecting the environment first and foremost as a personal responsibility. They fall in on the transformational activist end of the spectrum, but light greens do not emphasize environmentalism as a distinct political ideology, or even seek fundamental political reform. Instead they often focus on environmentalism as a lifestyle choice. The motto “Green is the new black” sums up this way of thinking, for many.[8] Though many environmentalists of all stripes use “lite green” to describe products or practices they believe are greenwashing.

In contrast, “dark greens” believe that environmental problems are an inherent part of industrialized capitalism, and seek radical political change. Dark greens tend to believe that dominant political ideologies (sometimes referred to as industrialism) are corrupt and inevitably lead to consumerism, alienation from nature and resource depletion. Dark greens claim that this is caused by the emphasis on economic growth that exists within all existing ideologies, a tendency referred to as “growth mania”. The dark green brand of environmentalism is associated with ideas of deep ecology, post-materialism, holism, the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock and the work of Fritjof Capra as well as support for a reduction in human numbers and/or a relinquishment of technology to reduce humanity’s impact on the biosphere.

More recently, “bright greens” emerged as a group of environmentalists who believe that radical changes are needed in the economic and political operation of society in order to make it sustainable, but that better designs, new technologies and more widely distributed social innovations are the means to make those changes – and that society can neither shop nor protest its way to sustainability.[9] As Ross Robertson writes, “[B]right green environmentalism is less about the problems and limitations we need to overcome than the “tools, models, and ideas” that already exist for overcoming them. It forgoes the bleakness of protest and dissent for the energizing confidence of constructive solutions.”[10]

Ecofont As well as being light green, you can also be light black, by adopting an Ecofont.  As reported on SpringWise, Dutch creative agency Spranq has developed a font called the Ecofont that’s designed to extend the life of ink cartridges and toner. This new font has lots of tiny blank circles resulting in a saving of up to 20 percent less ink than standard fonts.

The Vision Thing

National Archives and Records Administration

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., in 1963. Credit: National Archives and Records Administration

With Barack Obama’s recent presidential inauguration, and references to Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, in the media, I have been pondering ‘the vision thing’.

So many of the successful entrepreneurs I have met, or heard speak, have had a clear and powerful vision of the future of their business, invention or service.

For me, the entrepreneur with the clearest vision has been Jordan Kensington, founder of Invincible Media who I mentioned back in November 2007. He described in vivid detail how, when starting out he had a film running in his head showing people on the streets reading his magazine (his first product), and the kind of stories it contained. He explained how the power of his vision was so strong it drew people with the necessary finance, and expertise into his network and led to a successful business.

Gerard Burke in his Growing Business column from last November last year describes the concept in more detail. He gives the example of Karan Bilimoria and his Cobra Beer, who even when he was delivering his first cases of beer in a battered 2CV car, had a vision of Cobra as the first global Indian brand.

ARK clothing for Acts of Random Kindness

arkThanks once again to Springwise for finding a business with a difference.

In this case it is fashion brand ARK from Northern Ireland, founded by 18 year old Cameron, who insists that the wearer of his clothes must undertake an Act of  Random Kindness each time they are taken out of the closet.

I think Cameron explains it better than I can:

So I have this idea. I’d love you to join me in it.

I’ve started a clothing line with a purpose other than profit. The name, the movement, is ARK – Acts of Random Kindness.

The idea – one ARK every time the clothing is worn. That’s it.

Buy someone a coffee, give up your seat on the bus, help a drunk home. Any expensive ideas – send them my way, our profits could help. Just love – love everyone except yourself. You’ll see lives changed, including your own. Just love.

Change your world

Entrepreneurs to help Cancer Research UK beat cancer

openventures1I recently met one of the team behind the Open Ventures Challenge in aid of Cancer Research UK.

Their radical idea is to apply open innovation principles to venture creation, with the aim of building three new activities which will each generate £10 million to help beat cancer. They can be independent business ventures, new ventures for an existing company or a new venture for Cancer Research UK to run themselves.

This is a brave experiment from Cancer Research UK as it combines the use of social media and ethical capitalism. As they say on their website, they don’t know what will come out of it, but “look forward to seeing what you come up with”. Could it be a “Body Shop for Cancer”? Could it be the next “Race for Life”? Could it be a way to remove £10m from the cost of research?

The Challenge runs from November 2008 to June 2009 but already has 32 suggestions.

To join in with this fascinating experiment you have to agree to the following:
1. to give honest and open feedback
2. to act in good faith at all times
3. to treat all community members with respect and courtesy

Make a Wave Awards – closing date 12 December

unltd_logoThe second round of the Make a Wave Awards 2008-2009 from Ogunte and UnLtd (The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs) closes on 12 December Open to Women!

ogunteSo if you are a woman with  “bold, fresh and ground-breaking ideas to help solve issues emerging in the communities of their choice, in the UK”, why not apply for an award of up to £1,000?

They are made to women in the UK who can show that a very small amount of money, paired up with a resourceful brain, can be used to make a difference.

“We are looking for ideas that fit with the values of UnLtd’s mission to reach out and unleash the energies of people who can transform the world in which they live. UnLtd call these people social entrepreneurs.

Your ideas need to be aligned with Oguntê’s Women in Social Leadership vision: inspiration, entrepreneurship, networking, confidence, and sustainability.”

DOWNLOAD SPECS Make A Wave Award – (Word Doc

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION FORM 2008-2009 (Word Doc)

Are you ready to start your own business?

starting_a_businessWell, according to the new Enterprise Readiness quiz on the SFEDI web site I am, as I scored 9 out of 10.

Your score is: 9 points out of 10
Looks like you really do have what it takes to be an entrepreneur… you’ve considered what’s involved in running your own business and you’re ready to take the leap. Contact your nearest SFEDI Centre of Excellence to find out how we can help you achieve your goals.

SuperJam Tea Parties helping to tackle loneliness

Great to see that one of our most memorable Inspiring Entrepreneurs speakers Fraser Doherty (the teenager behind the Super Jam brand) has been doing his bit to help with the growing issue of loneliness for elderly people.

This problem has had quite a bit of media coverage in recent weeks such as this item from BBC reporter Tim Muffett.

super_jamFraser has introduced tea parties as a way of bring lonely elderly people together:

“after months of preparation, we today hosted our first of many tea parties for the elderly. About thirty guests came along to Sighthill community center and we all enjoyed a great laugh for a couple of hours and the delicious cakes and scones that were kindly donated by Waitrose. Alan from  Contact the Elderly  also came along and entertained us all with games, a couple of quizzes and a hilarious poem.”

Feeling good about ethical fashion

The British Library had it’s own contribution to London Fashion week in the form of Feelgood Fashion.

We brought together a panel of pioneering design and fashion entrepreneurs to talk about ethical fashion.

Jen Ruppert, founder of eco-fashion company Revamp

Ed Gillespie, creative director and co-founder of communications agency Futerra

Safia Minney, founder and director of People Tree, an environmental and Fair Trade label available in TopShop.

After the presentations and question and answer sessions we were treated to a fashion show in the main entrance of the British Libary. The creativity and quality of the re-cycled clothing was spectacular.

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mItLcACFP_Q]

Blind tours of London?

The ever wonderful source of ideas Springwise has come up with Blind Tours. In this instance Lisboa Sensorial organizes blindfolded walking tours of Lisbon.

After being securely blindfolded, participants are steered through Alfama’s narrow streets by blind guides from the ACAPO (Portuguese Association for the Visually Impaired). The guide share their experience of the surroundings, and encourages participants to fully explore their altered perception of “the narrow streets, the smell of grilled sardines, the sound of a Fado that can be heard from afar.” A guide with historical knowledge of the area also accompanies each group.

The project has two main goals: to provide participants with a new sensory experience of their surroundings through the stimuli of smell, touch, taste and hearing, and the absence of vision.

Secondly, they aim to make sighted people more aware of how the visually impaired experience the world.

As Springwise point out – this seems like a concept that’s worth copying to other cities such as London.

I am trying to imagine the sounds and smells of my various routes to work in London, in particular through Covent Garden and past Monmouth Street Coffee Shop (the best coffee in London IMHO).

A friendly version of Dragon’s Den?

The Pitch

BusinessZone.co.uk has joined forces with the Bristol Design Festival 2008 to organise The Pitch, an opportunity for up and coming entrepreneurs to sell their idea or existing company to a panel of specialists who have their finger on the pulse of business.The UK’s next generation of successful entrepreneurs are being invited to pitch their lightbulb moment to a panel of leading business experts and win a prize package worth over £1,000.

Having watched Douglas Campbell present his Project Hold Me (a unique and innovative egg-shaped incubator aimed at nurturing the bond between mothers and their newborn babies during their stay in hospital), I a would say that the ‘Dragons’ in this instance are a much more friendly and constructive bunch than seen on BBC television.

Have a look at the others and see what you need to do to develop your perfect pitch.