Bangladesh to Broadway

The search for sustainability in community enterprise

There is, arguably, a strong historical link to be seen developing between global faith and business thinking from the mid-eighties of the last century.

With the introduction of spirituality, thinkers and social entrepreneurs we would argue, have tried to address the inequalities and exclusiveness of shareholder capitalism, focusing as it does on the maximisation of profit and the transfer of capital away from its communities of origin.

The emergence of Social Business as a philosophy and a business discipline, and the creation of Social Enterprise to resolve community poverty and individual needs, springs directly from this ‘energy in faith’, we would argue.

Broadway Social Enterprise Limited, a company limited by guarantee – with no shareholders to pay and a volunteer board of directors – which returns all the money it makes back into its community projects – Broadway SocEnt is a direct manifestation of faith and business combined, in looking to support individuals and communities of interest in its Branston Road hinterland, we would argue.

This short article will look at three key texts we have used in the historical development of our social business, and in conclusion, how they have influenced the shape, planning and potential future of our ethical, caring enterprise.

Muhammad Yunus is a Muslim from Bangladesh.

To give him his fuller salutation, Professor Yunus is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, instrumental from the mid-eighties onwards in the origination and development of the Grameen Bank.

A micro-credit banking system aimed at enabling the skills and enterprise of the poorest on the Indian sub-continent, particularly in the economic emancipation of women. This process has been controversial for some, particularly following initial success, when mainstream banks and national governments began to take an interest in the Grameen system. Not least in the communities most needing help, where female literacy and female financial independence were resisted by existing hierarchies.

None the less Professor Yunus has persisted in supporting the efficacy of micro-loans to stimulate economic activity and self reliance amongst the poor, as well as continuing to develop his thinking on alternatives to mainstream capitalism and how ethical enterprise can foster lasting and sustainable change in communities.

His book Building Social Business explores this thinking and offers the reader some clear, simply declared ideas of how business methodologies, filtered through a mixture of faith, broad community interest and care for the individual can make a real difference in the lives of the poor, the disenfranchised and discriminated.

(Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs )

Publ: Public Affairs, 2010

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Professor Yunus usefully defines social business, bringing clarity to often misunderstood terms such as social enterprise, community business and so on. His definitions accept that a surplus is to be made, through process, but it is how that surplus is deployed and in what context that is part of his revelatory position on business.

The Yunus key declaration has seven key elements which define the Social Business, and we like the last of them the most.

1. The business objective is to overcome poverty, or one or more problems – such as education, heath, technology, access and the environment – which threatens the welfare of people and a society – not the maximisation of profit.

2. The company will attain financial and economic sustainability.

3. Investors, if there are any, get back only the their investment amount. No other dividend is given or offered.

4. When investments are paid back, profits and surpluses created stay within the company for expansion and improvement.

5. The company will be environmentally conscious.

6. The workforce, if employees are engaged, get market wages and better than standard working conditions.

7. Do it with joy!

Visiting clients over the years, we have come to pretty soon recognise organisations where number seven is absent, whatever their corporate ethos. Working with people you trust and care for, as well as delivering goods and services to people you also care about and have compassion for is the key, for us, to Social Business delivery.

In our experience you can create energy, business returns and employment – none of which need be based on rigidity of thinking, clock watching or restraint of creativity for the individual.

We like to have business meetings that contain the ‘joy element’.


Lynne Franks is a Buddhist entrepreneur from London, UK

The SEED Manifesto emerged at the end of the 20th Century, dedicated to using principles of femininity, sustainability and social responsibility in business.

As a successful and wealthy Public Relations consultant, a business she subsequently sold in the early nineties, Lynne Franks was subject to gross parody as the character Edina Monsoon in the TV series, Absolutely Fabulous. None of which caused her to falter in the creation of the SEED Network to expand upon her original ideas.

Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics.

Subscribers to the SEED Manifesto can, amongst other promises, agree to focus and direct their activities towards…

1. Constantly plant seeds as well as pick the blooms

2. Make the space and time to stay in tune with my higher self

3. Never let go of the big vision

4. Put my values, including integrity, passion and love at the centre of my enterprise

5. Listen as well as talk

6. Learn the rules and then break some

(The Seed Handbook: The Feminine Way to Create Business )

Publ: Thorsons Publishers, 2000

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There are more manifesto elements, but we hope you get the idea. Reflective, compassionate and action driven philosophy as a way to establish, grow and succeed as an ethical, feminist entrepreneur.

As Broadway SocEnt has our own Muddy Boots therapeutic garden as a one of its first projects, then the allusions to and references to planting and crop cultivation – ideal for us as business metaphors – see the combination of faith and horticulture blend in this quotation from the Franks canon…

‘…I give thanks to the gods of my special garden for empowering me with the strength and clarity to nurture my seeds and bring them to full growth. I ask for my higher self to join me in courageously moving into my future..’

You can still find the Network on-line at – and although time has past the feminist ideals, thoughtful and inclusive philosophy that Lynne Franks espouses can still speak to us after nearly two decades.


Ann Morisy is a Christian community theologian and lecturer.

She directed the Commission that wrote the report ‘Faithful Cities’ and has written on the spirituality of public transport, ageing, and neighbourliness as a radical.

Being seismically un-qualified to comment or reflect upon Anglican mission, ministry or liturgy, the author of this article none the less found the book, where it touches upon activism and enterprise, wholly accessible and delivered in a language, both of community business and community development, which was understandable.

The jewel in the crown of the book for us is Chapter Six – Doing Community Ministry. The Morisy framework for action in communities even covers a section on ‘using a consultant’. Now here is an action plan we can embrace we thought.

Morisy defines community work as ‘…involving the application of community development approaches within a defined locality over a period of years’.

She proposes that key workers must ‘…help people to build up their self-esteem and confidence, as well as to engage with issues of local concern’.

( Beyond the Good Samaritan: Community Ministry and Mission )

Publ: Continuum Publishing, 1997

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Morisy maps well some very traditional skill sets and methodologies for developing community projects. Clear thinking about aims, governance and evaluation. She does not shy away from the complexity of some of these issues, but neither is shy about faith groups seeking and engaging with external advisers and supporters.

The book make reference to ‘the church politic’, which we do not comment upon here, but she does define how community development and ministry, and in the case of Broadway SocEnt through enterprise, can deliver faith aims…

1. Enables Christians to act like Christians

2. Feeds people’s imaginations so that the significance of the Gospel can be sensed

3. Can be a force for positive change in society



Broadway, our social enterprise in Burton Road, embraces a variety of faiths, experiences, cultures and enterprise disciplines.

We hope that this short article shows that the inter-twining of faith, with enterprise, is not mutually exclusive for either thematic delivery.

Care and compassion, a focus on social outcome and the support of community without ego, greed or exploitation is the shining thread through the three texts, we would argue.

Broadway has made a good start with our Muddy Boots garden project. We are building a children’s book business presently to foster literacy, cross community understanding and personal development in families. (The book is powerful in many contexts).

We are planning to develop training and other activities, such as supporting families through the Forest Schools programme, which is already under way.

We will look to widen partnerships we have already established, with the likes of Marks and Spencer, MIND and Craythorne Farm in Stretton.

From Bagladesh to Broadway Social Enterprise has been a journey of some years. Now we have properly begun, we hope our story and our values inspire you.

And, we hope, you will engage with us.

Muddy Boots is open every Thursday from 9.30am. We look forward to seeing you and showing ethical enterprise in action.