I’m a Social Entrepreneur Get Me Out of Here

London is currently full of stranded social entrepreneurs, prevented by volcanic ash from returning home from this week’s Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford. This has prompted all sorts of initiatives to make their enforced ‘volcation’ in London more bearable. The Global Impact Investing Network, for instance, is holding its ‘First Annual GIIN Volcanic Ash Refugees Impact Investing Dinner’. (A free drink is offered to anyone who can pronounce the name of the guilty eruptor, Eyjafjallajokull.). The annual post-Skoll party hosted in London by trendy microfinance lender Kiva will surely now require bouncers to turn away the hordes of less cool social entrepreneurs that may now turn up because they have nothing better to do.   

We don’t know what Jeff Skoll, the eBay billionaire who endows the annual event he calls the ‘Woodstock of Social Entrepreneurship’, makes of this. He may wonder why his new Skoll Global Threats Fund – mission to address urgent threats facing humanity – did not alert him to this volcanic risk ahead of time, so the forum could be rescheduled.

Actually, the volcanic disruption provides an interesting test of the power of social entrepreneurship: can all these geniuses of social change figure out an innovative way to get themselves home? To encourage them, perhaps Skoll should deploy the cutting edge techniques of philanthrocapitalism. First, to catalyse collaboration, the theme of this year’s Skoll Forum, he should endow a prize – let’s call it the Skoll Eyjafjallajokull Prize – for the best idea to get Skollers home. As much of the discussion at this year’s Forum was about the power of crowd sourcing, he should also set up an interactive discussion website, Eyjafjallajokullwiki. (In the meantime, feel free to post ideas here at Failing any better ideas turning up, here’s our proposal for a scalable socially entrepreneurial solution: Skoll should open his cheque book and charter the QE2 and a fleet of eco-friendly Tesla sports cars to transport everyone to the nearest working airport.