Social business: too good to be true?

Last month, I made my one post perfectly clear to hear after the UK’s general election took place. Disappointed with the result, I certainly think our system for dealing with discrimination and looking to end austerity has taken a tumble and needs to be repaired. A new year is now upon us, and I believe we we’ll only truly benefit if a new approach is made available.

Do you believe new beginnings could work well for disabled people? Do you like the idea of starting something new to try and combat social issues that continue to exist in society?

Well, I do.

In this modern day and age, something new is likely to communicate with more recent inventions, services and products. And, although disabled people’s organisations exist, do any of these have a website that you eagerly explore on a regular basis?  

Personally, I don’t check them out too often – and they’ve never been recommended to me either.

But a wonderful website that helps disabled people hold a focus on their lifestyles and connect them with others could be our new niche. 22% of the UK’s population is disabled, and isolation is a major problem for many of us. I’ve had to handle a lot of seclusion due to my epilepsy in the past, and I know other disabled people deal with these issues as well.

New ideas

Last year, I was involved with The Work and Health Programme (part of the The Growth Company). That wasn’t a job; the programme exists and somewhat tries to empower disabled people – offer us the abilities and facilities to find the work we so often need. Now, as people on the programme couldn’t cut that out for myself, I decided it was time to drift into self-employment.

However, it was obvious from the start that those who work there make major efforts to find me work and get me plenty of interviews as well. My main advisor there was Michael, and voluntarily he set up a social group for disabled people near to Stretford to attend during his time there.

The group was well attended; around 15-30 people attended it every two weeks; a turn out that shows it was worth setting up. I wasn’t so interested in socialising there myself; focused on other work regarding my writing, and staff there were satisfied with the actions I was undergoing. I’m also a very independent person. However, it’s clear from the results that seclusion is something disabled people without work are having to deal with on a regular basis.

Website with a purpose

The name of something special I’m looking to create became an idea a couple of years ago now. As time’s continued, it’s also become obvious that my idea will take plenty of time and effort to establish.

The chosen name of an organisation I’ll be dealing with is Disability Central. I simply believe there are nowhere near enough disabled people’s organisations on planet earth. The amount of disabled people who know how the social model of disability represents our difficulties in society is sorely below par – never mind non-disabled.

So, as I speak out about setting up a website, what will become more of a social network appears in my mind. To begin with, I only want disabled people to acquire more understanding and warrant involvement with what’s happening all around the world.

So, what is Disability Central looking to provide?

To begin with, creating a top quality and well supported service is the plan that makes more sense. Upon the website, I very much anticipate the idea of it providing disabled people with the opportunity to sign up and operate a profile of their own. I want people to feel a friendship’s been made by joining, honestly telling them that we’re not operated by the government and only intend to improve our lives as time continues.

However, I don’t want depression to then be a dealer, only suggesting members engage in social issues by pointing them out. The media that people already see online provides them enough of these opportunities. We need to promote positivity, and there are a lot more services we can serve to customers that that’ll I’m sure they’ll appreciate.

Many options available

In its prime, I believe the website could offer:

  • A personal profile for disabled people, with the option of displaying as much information about themselves as they wish towards other members.
  • The chance to join online groups and speak with other disabled individuals.
  • A vast amount of information about disabilities and social issues we’re currently looking to combat as disabled people.
  • Information explaining how to support yourself as a disabled person and join disabled people’s organisations to learn a lot more useful information too.
  • The opportunity to buy useful goods to help deal with your disability easily from the website.
  • Links to other individual disability-related charity websites (e.g. Cancer Research UK, Epilepsy Action, National Autistic Society) and local disabled people’s organisation websites.
  • News about ongoing disability rights related issues.
  • The ability to set up, book a place and socialise with people at friendly face-to-face events.
  • Online magazine articles about disabled people significantly achieving success in society.
  • A forum to discuss issues online if people are interested in other matters.

In a sense, this website sounds a lot like a “Facebook for disabled people”. But idea of only allowing disabled people to access it could have its benefits. With sort of movement will be seen with interests arising from non-disabled people too. They’ll be very curious about what we’ve created, and we can explain to them that their isolation from our social network is an example of how we’re forced to facilitate our lives on a regular basis due to social barriers.

What kind of organisation?

Plus, along with the website, the idea of an organisation gaining more power internally is one that I certainly wish to summon. Fellow disabled people on the website can help us find what issues need to be dealt with via occasionally questions and surveys. It’ll give us the opportunity to work as a group to gain disabled people a lot more esteem and make more interventions with the media as well.

One main point that the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People stand by is that we’re simply searching for deserved human rights. Therefore, charitable donations are not ones that they wish to accept. Although it’s ignored by many, the UK’s Equality Act 2010 is supposed maintain equal rights in our nation. So why should we use charity to gain ourselves something that we’re all equally entitled to?

The charity organisation Scope isn’t one I’m massively keen on. It seems amazing to me that they were named “The Spastic’s Society” until March 1994. I perhaps appreciate the fact that the charity offers a lot of information and support to disabled people online, but the campaigns they use to try and create a fairer society seem much too ineffective.

An idea has recently crossed my mind regarding what kind of organisation Disability Central should become. I obviously don’t want it to emerge as a charity, so what other options are available?

Well, have you heard of a social business?

First of all, I want to explain that a social business isn’t the same as a social enterprise. Social enterprises are much more common and pulling profit in for investors is always the ultimate plan.

However, social businesses clearly seem to run in a more meaningful way for society. To get one up and running, you need an investment from whatever source seems plausible. After that, the investment is always set at returning to the investor after the business has gained enough profit to do so. The amount they receive back will be exactly what they donated; strictly no more and no less.

After that, the social business will continue to run itself by making a profit from whatever products or services it supplies. After that, the profit it makes is always reinvested in the business. Social businesses can quite often be owned by all of those that use it frequently.

Muhammed Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 after he introduced the idea of social businesses to others.

Yes, social business been criticised

Now, you may be wondering – why haven’t I heard of social business yet? It sounds like a superb idea. However, this often ignites the idea that there’s probably something wrong with it; if anything, it only sounds too good to be true.

Well, I cannot deny that it has received its criticism in the past.

But is that so surprising? New ideas are always indented, and everything receives criticism. And despite the fact that social businesses could improve the lifestyles of the less wealthy, not all individuals are going to gain interests in activating social businesses.

Right now, I live in the UK – a nation now ran by a high majority of right-wing MPs. Ever since the Conservative Party gained power ten years ago, the wealthy have increased their wealth by hundreds of billions of pounds.

And yet, those that seek rights sit within our nations field of poverty. Poverty continues to exist and is only worsening. When the United Nations have highlighted our issues, they’ve only been denied and ignored by Tory MPs.

Muhammed Yunus set up Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, around 37 years ago. However, he was indeed fired from his position in 2017. The reason? Very technical legal reasons regarding how he began his business. However, it’s a bank made for the poor that is still running itself and is owned by the community that uses it. It provides owners with a little extra money to manage their lives better and is an important asset to families in Bangladesh.

Let’s try it out

The investment needed to get this project underway won’t be millions of pounds. I don’t know the figure of what it’d need yet, but my best guess might be £50,000. With many people in support of ending austerity in my country, I don’t see how we couldn’t get that from somewhere. And gaining that money back for the investor wouldn’t be too difficult.

If we simply asked members to put in a two pounds payment to join, we’d only need 25,000 people to become part of our website before regaining the investor’s money. And, with 13.9 million people in the UK being disabled, that happens to be just 0.18% of the disabled community.

Plus, if some disabled people aren’t so interested in social media and the internet, then we can still give them a reason to join. Our organisation wants to work in a political manner, making itself acknowledge in the media. By joining online they’ll be becoming part of a force that fights and speak out about disability rights issues all the more as time continues.

With the use of a social business, disabled people could well be able to use profits to shout out so much louder than we can right now. Doesn’t that sound like something you’d like to see us doing in the not-so-distant future?

Well, I do.

2012-11-08 14.58.48 by Kimberly B / Jaflong, Bangladesh by Miguel Navaza
/ The obligatory suitcase by Jeremy Johnstone