Social entrepreneur Jonathan Bland has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Northampton at this year’s Summer Graduation Ceremonies.
Jonathan is one of the highest profile and respected agents of change in the social enterprise world and is a significant force in the development of social enterprise in the UK and Europe. He has shaped debate and policy in both the Labour and Conservative parties, and worked with the European Commission on developing its Social Business Initiative and acted as rapporteur for the largest social enterprise conference ever held by the EU (in Strasbourg, Jan 2014). He drew up the Strasbourg Declaration that defined how EU policy should support social enterprise between 2014 and 2020.
Since 1998 he has been a leader in the UK social enterprise movement, bringing together a diverse range of people and organisations under the umbrella of social enterprise – first as Executive Director of Social Enterprise London and then as the founding CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition, (now Social Enterprise UK). Jonathan helped the British Government to create a highly innovative policy framework for social enterprise and supported the development of some major programmes in the field of public service innovation, enterprise and employment. He campaigned successfully to win widespread cross-party political support for this type of business. He advised David Cameron on social enterprise policy when the Conservatives were in opposition and the Blair and Brown Governments and he currently works closely with senior political figures from all the main parties.
His commitment to social enterprise and the increasing effectiveness of social enterprises is shown by the establishment of the E3M group of large and profitable social enterprises that, together with the University of Northampton and other founding partners, is developing new models of operation, new methods of financing work, and new markets to operate in. E3M has been singled out as the most effective social enterprise network operating in the UK today.
Jonathan said: “For me, social enterprise is all about empowerment. It’s a business tool that people can use to gain opportunity and do things in a different way that balances the economic with the social and very often the environmental.
“I was really pleased to be offered an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Northampton as I started a PhD a long time ago that I was never able to finish and it’s rather nice to be offered one now as it completes the circle of all the work I have done in this field. It is a great honour to be recognised in this way.”
Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton, commented: “In addition to celebrating the outstanding achievements of the graduating class of summer 2015, we are also recognising high profile individuals who have made a positive impact on others. The recipients of these honorary awards will inspire our graduates as they begin the next exciting stage in their lives, making their own mark on the world.”
Listen to Jonathan Bland talk about his career and achievements.