Claudine Reid MBE came to Sanctuary recently to talk about the impact that missionary entrepreneurs can have and are having in the UK.

Claudine supports individuals and organisations to develop social enterprises and social impact strategies. She has extensive experience on advising the government on how to work with the social sector, and also has over 20 years’ experience in successfully running a series of social enterprises in Croydon. Basically, there are few people better placed to offer their thoughts on missionary entrepreneurship.

We learned that for an entrepreneur, motivation is key; it defines the culture of an organisation. There are significant differences between the motivations of missionary entrepreneurs, and what John Doer describes as ‘mercenary entrepreneurs.’

For Doer, missionary entrepreneurs

  • are driven by passion
  • think strategically
  • go for the marathon
  • focus on their customers & value statements
  • are mentors or coaches of teams
  • are obsessed with making a contribution
  • while recognizing the importance of money, are fundamentally driven by the desire to make meaning.

Whilst mercenary entrepreneurs

  • are driven by paranoia
  • think opportunistically
  • go for the sprint
  • focus on their competitors and financial statements
  • are bosses of wolf packs
  • worry about entitlements
  • are motivated by the lust for making money.

Making money is not wrong, and all projects need money and a sustainable business model if they are to survive. But when the subtle shift takes place in our motivation, from wanting to make a difference (and money being a reward for this) to simply wanting to make money, that’s when we may have crossed from missionary to mercenary entrepreneurship.

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The UK Social Enterprise sector

But with that caveat at the back of our minds, Claudine told us about the size of the UK social enterprise sector.

  • 471,000 Social Enterprises in UK (2017)
  • Of this total, approximately 99,000 have employees and 371,000 have no employees
  • 1.44 million people are employed by social enterprises
  • 9% of the UK small Business Population
  • Chair of Social Enterprise UK, Lord Victor Adebowale, says “Social enterprises’ £60bn annual contribution to the UK economy is too big to ignore.”

It’s already too big to ignore, and it’s going to grow larger in the UK. Policy makers are realising that solutions to our society’s biggest problems (e.g. knife crime, how to care for an aging population, climate change, a growing refugee crisis in Europe – to name just four) cannot be solved by government alone.

Increasingly it is collaborations between private, public and third sector organisations that is driving social change in our communities and in our nation. So what’s your idea? What’s the change you want to see in the world? Are you ready to take up the mantle of being a missionary entrepreneur?