I’m doing a series of posts exploring the edges of social enterprise. In each instance I will create a poll for you to choose between:
- This is a social enterprise and I would invest in it.
- This is a social enterprise but I wouldn’t invest in it.
- This isn’t a social enterprise and if someone else invested I would question their credentials as a social investor.
After the poll I will put my own thoughts. If you have any questions you would like to put to the management of my fictitious social enterprise please ask a comment and I will endeavour to respond appropriately. In this instance they have some quite strong opinions.
Social enterprise arms manufacturer
So, a group of ex-military types have got together. They have seen the horrors of war and in particular the impact on civilian populations. They have also been involved with clean up operations afterwards. They have ideas on how military hardware can be made easier to clean up and lower impact on non-combatants without impacting on its lethal effectiveness against the enemy.
In particular they have ideas for a clean up mechanism for mines, where an encrypted key can be used to make them safe and more easily detected with the relevant equipment that would only be available once hostilities were over. They are confident that they can make this work to the satisfaction of the military users of such equipment and that this would be a “route to salvation” for some of the larger non-signatories to the Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines, including the US, Russia and China.
Their plan is to go to the arms manufacturers state customers to create an impetus behind “safe but lethal” weaponry. They then plan to work alongside the more sceptical manufacturers around design and the further research and development needed to move their ideas into implementation. They believe that over time they will build credibility with the manufacturers due to their military experience and complete comfort with, indeed enthusiasm for, weapons being as lethal as possible to the opposition.
They need investment, initially of £3m, rising to £10m for both the lobbying effort and to do the initial work on their designs to get them to the point of detailed designs and non lethal replicas which are important for arms fairs, a key part of the marketing cycle. The can’t get this from traditional commercial sources, though if they are successful, they should make a reasonable return on your investment.
This may appear an unconventional investment. Some of their opinions are uncompromising, but the intensity and seriousness of their interest in reducing civilian casualties, and enabling countries to rebuild after war cannot be questioned. Nor can the blood curdling stories on which that passion is based.