Wednesday, 18 February 2009

10 online resources for social entrepreneurs

What is it about lists?! Everybody loves 'em! That was certainly the case with my last blog update. My tips for the social entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter was easily my popular post so far so as you like lists so much, I'd thought I'd write another one! This time it's my favourite websites for social entrepreneurs.

Social Edge is a network for social entrepreneurs. Set up in June 2003 , it is sponsored by funding group the Skoll Foundation. Social Edge contains blogs on issues of relevance as well as a useful Wiki which can be edited by members. The site also organises regular webchats with well known social enterprise experts, all of which are archived.

Third Sector Forums is a newbie on the internet scene but is fastly establishing itself as one of the places to be for social entrepreneurs. Established only a few months ago, the site is building up a loyal following and all through word-of-mouth. Use the site to network and share ideas with other social entrepreneurs and those interested in charities, volunteering and non-profits.

Society Guardian, a major supporter of key events in the UK social enterprise calendar including the Social Enterprise Coalition's annual Voice conference, publishes excellent articles on current issues of interest to social entrepreneurs. As well as regular news stories, check out the section on the award winning Guardian website for blogs, video and image galleries.

UnltdWorld is a social network. Combine the best of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, add an audience of social entrepreneurs and you've got UnltdWorld. Run by UnLtd, the UK social enterprise funding organisation, the site allows members to connect with others, search and share opportunities, find and list products and services, share and find answers to key questions and support inspiring projects.

Third Sector is the online version of the UK magazine of the same name. Packed with news, opinion and blogs of interest to charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises, the site also publishes job vacancies, a supplier directory and an events diary.

Office of the Third Sector is the British government department responsible for social enterprise. We may not always agree with the politicians but at least the setting up of the department in 2006 represents recognition from the powers that be that social entrepreneurs play a massive role in the economy. Cabinet minister Liam Byrne recently pledged an even bigger role so keep an eye on this site for whether or not he keeps his promise.

Ashoka proves that social enterprise isn't a new phenomenon. Founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton, this remarkable organisation provides the resources to social entrepreneurs in deprived areas around the world to make a difference to their local communities. As well as details of the organisation's many projects, the Ashoka website includes lots of practical resources including podcasts and articles written by top experts. is a social enterprise based in San Francisco. Serving as a central platform informing and empowering movements for social change around the world, this massive website has dedicated bloggers who post on specific issues including social entrepreneurship. Each week the site also features a selection of causes to which visitors can donate money.

Social Enterprise Coalition is the sector's representative body in the UK and as a British blogger I couldn't ignore it! Some areas of the SEC's website are only available to members but many resources can be accessed by all visitors. A key area of the organisation's work is its Social Enterprise Ambassadors.

Muhammad Yunus is seen as the father of social enterprise and very justifiably so. The Nobel Prize winner is most well known for setting up the Grameen Bank. Founded in the 1970s, it reversed conventional banking practice by giving credit to the poorest of the poor in rural Bangladesh without any collateral. The bank currently provides services to more than 99% of the villages in Bangladesh. If anyone can inspire budding social entrepreneurs, it's Muhammad Yunus and this website tells you all you need to know.