Posted by

Kamala Mackinnon, Campaigns Adviser

26 Apr 2012

In many ways Chambers of Commerce are the ‘original’ social enterprises. Most are registered as companies limited by guarantee and work to support their local community on a not-for-profit basis.

In researching Chambers’ work with social enterprises I heard some amazing stories. From the inspirational training organisation that works with young people from abusive families and drug/alcohol addictions to help them develop living skills, to businesses within the Chamber Network that turn ex-offenders’ lives around by hiring and retraining them, there is no end to the positive relationship between social enterprise, charity and the business community. Certainly, one of the most moving moments at the BCC’s Annual Conference this year was when John Timpson OBE, Chairman of Timpson, described how his organisation hires ex-offenders and gives them a chance to build a life in a society which would otherwise likely have forgotten them. Timpson has over 800 branches nationwide with a turnover of £150m and profits of over £10m, and provides opportunities and services to local people and communities.

Often, the public assumes that charity and business are entirely separate – that it is not possible to make a profit and at the same time do something for the good of local communities, people and the environment. I was at Dorset Chamber of Commerce earlier this week and met some great member businesses who disprove that theory entirely. For example, the Green House Hotel – a booming business which has plans to expand and is also the greenest hotel in the country to the extent that the company car runs off cooking oil from the hotel kitchen!

Indeed, business is the foundation of local communities. It creates the wealth that helps them thrive and provides jobs for hard working people. That’s why in 2012, our Business is Good for Britain campaign will help to highlight the ways that a strong and prosperous business community is good for our country and our society.

It’s time to get behind UK businesses, and show the value they add to our society every day.