Good Business: Social innovators at Oxford Jam

Good Business is a column hosted by Anna Levy from HUB Islington, an incubation space for socially driven entrepreneurs. Each month she catches up with the people leading change

This month, Anna talks to three social innovators from Oxford Jam, the Skoll World Forum’s unofficial fringe ‘unconference’. Here, the traditional conference format is turned on its head with the speakers paying for the privilege to take part and all tickets offered for free to delegates.

Lucinda Hardwick, Remedy Partners

Anna: Hi Lucinda, tell me a little about what you do

Lucinda: A couple of years ago, I set up a social enterprise called Remedy Partners that supports public services to work with people who’ve survived gross human rights abuses such as torture, trafficking and rape.

I came up with the idea in a job at a torture treatment centre for refugees and asylum seekers, where I saw that there was a real need for specialised training for the professionals who worked directly with survivors. Our work was getting cut back and I thought the service was still needed, but it could be done in a better way.

Studies show that there’s an average of 21 people in every inner city GP surgery who’re survivors of torture, and so there’s a high chance if you’re working in the health and social care services that you’re working with one. If you were a doctor or a nurse, and someone said that they were a victim of torture, would you know how to respond?

Why social enterprise?

Well, what we do is bridge the gap. The charities we partner with are focused on working directly with clients. What we do is aim at the providers (doctors, nurses, prison workers, etc) so that if they spot someone who they think could be a survivor of torture or trafficking, they know who to come to for advice.

I think social enterprise is better placed to provide that intermediary role, especially as we’re not reliant on funding.

How’s Oxford Jam been for you?

Oxford Jam was amazing. I enjoyed being around so many positive, excitable and thoroughly decent people. I got three concrete things out of the conference: a sound piece of advice from an UnLtd mentor, a very interesting new angle on my business and a new volunteer.

Dee Kyne, Pathfinder Developments CIC

Hi Dee, what do you do?

I’m CEO of Pathfinder Developments CIC and Pathfinder India. We deliver primary healthcare in marginalised communities.

Why social enterprise?

The reason I moved into social enterprise is that I’ve worked in the public sector and I’ve run my own charity, and I feel that the imperative in this world is to do good business – and that’s my mechanism.

Charities get politically drawn. If the paymaster makes you jump, you jump. If you’re a business that’s multi-funded and most of your profit is reinvested, you may have funders but they aren’t your sole income. Business for business sake? Well that’s good, but for me there’s more in the world than that.

What drives you?

My personal imperative is to shift social structure so that it’s more orientated around society and quality of life. So if I see someone living in India at the bottom of a garden under a tarpaulin and I hear about children starving, then I know something needs to be done. I’m a citizen of the world who feels that until things are a little more stable and fairly balanced, there’s stuff for me to do socially.

How’s Oxford Jam been for you?

Being at Oxford Jam is a little bit of soul food, filling up the well and knowing you’re not alone. Here you meet new friends and collaborators and there’s a willingness to help each other.

Ben Keene, Tribewanted

Hi Ben, what do you do?

I’ve launched a social enterprise called Tribewanted. We’re on a mission to build a global network of eco-retreats and sustainable communities connected to a group of crowdfunders. So hopefully we’ll be the first crowdfunding network in the world that can also be a holiday when you want it!

What drives you?

There are two key issues we’re tackling. Firstly, how can we scale social enterprise in tourism? But the one I think that’s really interesting for us is how you can make the most out of someone’s holiday to inspire behavioural change when they come home. How you flick the switch through what, on the surface, is just a responsible holiday. It’s not volunteering, but how do you change someone’s perspective on the world in three or four days?

How’s Oxford Jam been for you?

I’ve been meaning to come here for five years and I should have come earlier, as it’s fantastic. What’s refreshing, and what I’m pleasantly surprised about, is there’s lots of talk about scaling ideas. There’s a lot more acceptance now that there’s a myriad of different ways of delivering social impact in the world, but what really matters is scaling it. And we’re all in a hurry to do that!