I am, and have been for many years, an ‘Entrepreneur’ in the literal sense of ‘one who brings together resources to undertake a speciﬁc purpose’ although I had been more or less retired for some time.
Then, in 2014, the Journal “Prospect” produced a supplement: ‘Poverty in the UK. Can it be Overcome?’ with long essays by distinguished contributors but no really practical suggestions.
I live in the Isle of Man, which has substantial resources. It is relatively wealthy – though with pockets of severe poverty. We have a long tradition of community involvement supported by very experienced professional people in the finance sector and many retired people who have started and grown substantial businesses, together with others who have held responsible appointments in major companies.
But there is still a substantial gap in the provision of support for community development projects, particularly in medical and social services where we have very close links with UK hospitals. And I have been approached to to help establish an international fund to support medical and social innovation here and with our university based partners in other communities.
I have many years’ experience of bringing together resources to help create sustainable businesses and social enterprises and I had the great privilege in 1984 of being awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study the ‘Creation of Small Business and Community Enterprise in America and Canada’.
A commitment is required from Churchill Fellows that they will use the experience and lessons learnt to make a difference in their own communities. Last year The Churchill Trust, as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations told me that they were asking one Fellow from each of the 50 years to send them a brief report of achievements since their Fellowship Year. I had been selected to represent 1984 and they needed a brief report. I struggled to make it brief enough for their space, and decided that I should put it into a web format and use the opportunity of this to launch another major initiative.
As a memorable quote of Michael Korda reminds us: “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” I suppose it is even more important that others believe that you can. So I hope I may be forgiven for an otherwise boringly long list of economic development projects successfully undertaken.
When London First organised the launch of Prya Partnerships London in 2003 Stephen Timms MP, Minister for Trade and Industry, in his generous introduction, told the distinguished audience that I had helped in the formation of ‘more than one thousand’ new businesses.
In Wales, the enterprise trust I founded, Powys Self Help, brought together public, private and voluntary sector resources to help local people launch several hundred businesses – albeit in the face of some considerable antagonism from a public sector funded rural development agency.
And in the Isle of Man I launched, in 1985, Enterprise in Mann, a charitable company limited by guarantee, which ran for fifteen years with support from the Isle of Man Bank and very dedicated volunteers, helping establish over 300 successful businesses. I also established The Manx Community Help Trust to support small charities, with the kind help of His Honour Deemster Luft and His Honour Deemster Callow who joined our board, in premises loaned by the Manx Government and with the benefit of a substantial generous donation from Allied Irish Bank. There are more details (with apologies for repetition) in My Background
Local socio-economic development can only take place where there is a supportive local business and professional community and welcoming public sector support. Only then will investors have the confidence they need. So, with the support of colleagues, I am progressing several exemplar projects to bring together resources of partnering individuals, companies and organisations.