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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . .

When you look in the mirror every morning what do you see? Do you see the face of a person eager to confront the challenges of the day, or the face of someone tired of the same old work life work routine?

Now look out of the window. What do you see there? Has anything changed? No, I don’t mean the new car at No. 16 nor do I mean the tantalising glimpses of flesh as the Johnsons prepare for the day with their curtains open – yet again!

What I want you to see is not visible to the eye, but is certainly there and different all the same. You see your street, your town and indeed the whole nation is now covered with a thin film of new opportunity. That opportunity is called ‘Big Society’.

We all know the principle behind it. A cash strapped new Government deciding to peel away the layers of bureaucracy, over-regulation and rules to clear the ground for local people to take back control of local services. Individual communities can now design and develop the things they want and need. It’s no longer one size fits all, but a tailor made approach to public service delivery.

But what about the sad face that greets you in the mirror each morning? What does it mean to you? Well for those willing to rise to the challenge and seize the opportunity, it’s the chance of a lifetime to follow your heart and do what feels right, rather than the same old thing.

For some this means adapting their job to help their organisation meet the challenges presented by ‘Big Society’. For others it’s the chance to go it alone and replace the sad face in the bathroom mirror with an excited one, as each day brings with it new opportunities.

For Peter, James and Dean that meant starting Ethecol, the first truly ethical merchant services provider. Fed up with corporate life and excited by the new world they can clearly see, they’ve started a unique social enterprise that does business in a very different way to its established rivals.

For the small business paying through the nose for the now vital opportunity to accept card payments Ethecol is a godsend. They enable you to get a better service at a lower cost. This is achieved simply by introducing you to a bank that wants your business; rescuing you from one who sees your modest turnover as nuisance.

Next the clever bit. Banks usually pay a small commission to the introducer on retailer’s card transactions. Ethecol’s mission is to help charities raise cash, so in your area, that bank commission would be paid direct to your local Community Foundation. Here it joins commission from all the businesses Ethecol signs up in your part of the world. Collectively, you are now building a significant fund from which grants will be made to emerging and vulnerable community groups.

So what do the Ethecol lads see when they look in their respective bathroom mirrors each morning? They see happy faces. Happy because they have a business that saves customers money and generates income for charity. It’s what ‘Big Society’ is about; it’s the future and it’s here today!


  1. Excellent - thank you for spreading the word about social enterprise and about Ethecol! - Lori

  2. Nice intro Robert.

    But you have started the dialogue at the middle of the page.

    What is "Big Society"? What is "social enterprise"? Will either of them ever be more than a quango-led money-pit that is non-regulated and an ever decreasing circle of diminishing returns?

    In other words, will the average consumer get to to eat this fine pie in the sky, and will they actually feel more than a marketing feel good glow?

  3. For instance, I have found this,

    and if you really read and digest it, and remove the jargon, the marketing speak and the ego- centric rhetoric, it can be boiled down into a few lines. "we can help, if you are worthy", "blah blah and blah", "we are wonderful."

    Are you going to miss this opportunity to prove me wrong?

  4. I very much like the sound of this. Thank you for sharing.