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Social Enterprise & Migrant & BME Communities

May 25th, 2012

LeandroSepulveda.jpg -  bytes This is a podcast by Leandro Sepulveda who is a Principal Researcher at TSRC and the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR), Middlesex University Business School. His research provides evidence of the move towards what the current national policy discourse defines as social enterprise (SE) within an area of highly diverse population.

The findings demonstrate that defining and measuring the ethnic minority SE sector as an object of study or policy intervention is more complex than is portrayed in the policy rhetoric and this has important consequences for its incorporation into the policy process.

They also show that a relatively high number of BME VCO organisations have being compelled to reinvent themselves and adopt income generating survival strategies (or social enterprise) to fund their core mission resulting in reduced dependency on grant funding but increased and potentially fatal financial vulnerability.

The vast majority of ethnic minority organisations have not engaged with the notion of social enterprise and continue to feel more comfortable with the ethos and values of VCOs and charities. Indeed for many, movement towards the social enterprise model is seen as part of the development of a more hostile policy environment towards the BME sector.

These findings do not downplay the significance of the considerable ethnic minority social enterprise activity that is evident on the ground. Many organisations that are playing key roles in serving and supporting BME communities have also embraced the social enterprise policy agenda and material conditions in deprived areas provide demand for such services.

However ethnic minority social enterprise activity is being reduced in practice to a narrow arena for action mainly focused upon the delivery of public services.

In term of the policy process, the evidence presented here of disengagement between the policy discourse and SE activity on the ground raises concerns that recent policy developments have acted to marginalise rather than include ethnic minority organisations.

Without access to ongoing support to develop their capacities many BME organisations will be unable to survive let alone become 'contract ready' and hence gain equitable access to public service contracts.

BME organisations must therefore confront this radically changed environment to identify a basis for sustained operation which at the same time seeks to retain their autonomy, social objectives and political voice. The Social Enterprise form may provide one, although not the only, means of achieving this.