Monday, 2 January 2012

What's in a name?

A4e gets a mention in a piece in the Guardian about a school in Middlesborough which has been teaching kids how to set up and run businesses. A4e's role, apparently, was to co-ordinate the programme. Trouble is, the writer, Patrick Kingsley, initially described A4e as a "social enterprise". Someone quickly pointed out that it is not a social enterprise but a "straightforward, profit-making business". And to give the Guardian its due, they changed it straight away - to "social purpose company". But the Guardian has made this mistake before, so it shows how the wrong description has stuck. The official definition is: "a social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners' (DTI, 2002)." Clearly A4e doesn't fit that definition. But to call it, instead, a "social purpose company" (apparently Emma Harrison's idea) is to deliberately fudge the issue.

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