Does ownership matter in social business?

<p>I find myself becoming increasingly impatient for change.&nbsp; I'm 35 now and have been actively involved in this social business game for 10 years or so. In those 10 years, in broad terms, the world's become a worse place to live.&nbsp; So if we're going to make the world a better place, social entrepreneurs had better get a move on.<br /> <br /> I sometimes wonder whether ownership structures get in the way of creating social change. Social ownership is generally seen as one of the three pillars of a true social enterprise - alongside a clear social mission and an enterprising approach.&nbsp; But is ownership as important as some people make it out to be?<br /> <br /> The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochdale_Pioneers">Rochdale Pioneers</a> suddenly spring to mind.&nbsp; Ownership mattered then because people were being sold adulterated flour by unscrupulous private merchants.&nbsp; So by taking control of flour production and distribution, the early co-operators could ensure that business was done for the benefit of the many, not the few.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.divinechocolate.com/home/default.aspx">Divine Chocolate </a>comes to mind next.&nbsp; Ownership clearly matters there.&nbsp; Through social ownership, Ghanaian farmers are given a stake in the part of the cocoa business where real money is made - selling chocolate bars.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> But does ownership matter everywhere?&nbsp; Surely it's the social change that you create that matters most.&nbsp; I'm not convinced that, for the bulk of social businesses, ownership makes any real difference at all. <br /> <br /> I see many social enterprises going through the motions when it comes to social ownership.&nbsp; They'll proudly proclaim their social enterprise status, as if being a Company Limited by Guarantee, or a CIC, automatically means that everything they touch turns to social gold.&nbsp; It doesn't.&nbsp; A structure is no more than a legal vehicle.&nbsp; If you drive that vehicle in a certain way, it may help you to get where you want to be - a better world - more quickly.&nbsp; But there's no guarantee that it will.&nbsp;</p>