The Big Issue founder, John Bird, welcomes back BA Social Enterprise students

Published: 20 Oct 2011

September has marked the return of the Bromley by Bow Centre’s BA Social Enterprise students and what better way to start the new academic year than an inspirational talk by The Big Issue founder, John Bird.

The Centre’s flagship Social Enterprise degree is awarded by the University of East London and generously funded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Logo

September has marked the return of the Bromley by Bow Centre’s BA Social Enterprise students and what better way to start the new academic year than an inspirational talk by The Big Issue founder, John Bird.

John Bird’s talk opened with a tale of surviving tough economic times and the need for difficult choices; 10 years ago The Big Issue lost 40% sales and 25% advertising leaving John with the task of letting people go. John explained how he had gone from “the social hero” to “now destroying the paper”. John wanted to prepare the students for the hard road ahead pathed with tricky economic decisions when seeking social justice through enterprise. John spoke of the founding days of The Big Issue and receiving funding from The Body Shop Founder, Anita Roddick. This was particularly topical for the students as they will be learning about business planning and securing funding later this term. John opened up the floor for questions and the students were eager to learn more – there was an honest and open dialogue as John answered challenging questions with insightful answers on a wide range of topics from business advice to the wider social issue of homelessness. John’s unique oratory style full of quips, jokes and even the occasional song made for an enjoyable and inspiring talk: The perfect way to motivate everybody as they begin their second year of study!

In many ways The Big Issue symbolises what many of our students aim to achieve; providing us with the ideal example of a business solution to a social problem. It is a business which has succeeded whilst being simultaneously driven by commercial aims and social objectives.

Just as The Big Issue has its feet firmly in real life so does the BA in Social Enterprise. The Communiversity’s BA in Social Enterprise aims to enable its students to make extraordinary life changes for themselves and their community. Students study the community and economic life of the UK and learn how to maximise their potential in social enterprise.

John Bird’s message for our students was simple – success is about having the motivation and drive to do something; it is about learning from your mistakes and turning rejection into something positive. Oh and of course speak loudly enough and people will have to listen!

We would like to say a big “Thank You” to John Bird and wish all of our Social Enterprise students all the best for this academic year.

The Centre’s flagship Social Enterprise degree is awarded by the University of East London and generously funded by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch