Gordon D'Silva OBE
If the greatest challenge to private capital in the 21st Century is the unabated rise of global inequality, then the experience of the social entrepreneur is likely to become increasingly valuable for companies that need to invest in the communities they also wish to profit from.
Gordon D'Silva OBE is a multi-award-winning pioneer of social enterprise and social investment business models. He was one of the first business figures to develop a capital assets model for charities (i.e. the acquisition and restoration of heritage buildings as a social enterprise catalyst to kick-start inward social investment in support of local neighbourhood regeneration). More recently he uses his keynotes to help business leaders navigate the chasm that exists between profit with purpose
Many of the social enterprise business models he innovated such as the Apprentice restaurant chain, went on to become a prototype for similar initiatives such as Jamie Oliver’s 15, Clink and the Brigade. Hoxton Apprentice restaurant in particular, won a Michelin Recommendation for five consecutive years and the Dartmouth Apprentice was anointed by the New York Times as the new icon of Devon, amidst winning several business, social enterprise and design awards.
For well over 25 years, Gordon has worked with a range of business leaders - from Cisco Systems, Compass Group, Searcy’s, Whitbread, Barclays Bank, Marks & Spencer’s and KPMG - helping them to come up with sustainable, purpose with profit solutions to perennial societal problems that also impede business interest. More recently he joined the board of RCB, a publicly listed social investment company that has raised in excess GBP225,000,000million through profit with purpose focused institutional and sustainable investors. He was also Chair of Executive Coaching Consultancy where he helped to launch the Good Business Initiative.
Gordon has acted as an advisor to the UK government on social enterprise and in 2008 they adopted his proposal to develop a Social Stock Exchange. Training for Life, his social enterprise charity partnered the South African Government’s Tourist Board in a major international marketing campaign that promoted sustainable, purpose-with-profit driven tourism. In subsequent years he also worked with the Italian Government’s Regional Development Board to promote sustainable food and beverage businesses in both countries and subsequently acted as an Advisor to the Sustainable Restaurants Association. He was also, until recently a Senior Advisor to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
Gordon has been the recipient of several professional awards that includes Ernst Young’s London Social Entrepreneur of the Year twice (in 2003 and again in 2006), a UK finalist in Orange Mobile’s Entrepreneur of the Year (2004), several academic awards and professorships and in 2008 he was named as one of the UK’s top seven social entrepreneurs by the Guardian newspaper. His business awards include the Government’s Inner City 100 Award (2003) to Training for Life as one of the UK’s fastest growing companies; the New Statesmen Charity of the Year Award (2005) and Social Enterprise of the Year Awards (2005, 2006 & 2008) for Hoxton Apprentice and several corporate business partnership awards. In 2011 he was inaugurated with the Order of the British Empire by HRH Queen Elizabeth for services to furthering social entrepreneurship.
Gordon is a passionate and inspiring speaker sharing both the successes and failures of a serial social entrepreneur. More importantly, his is a story of particular relevance for business leaders and budding entrepreneurs in post-Covid society that need to navigate through technologically open and connected communities that operate within a paradox of increasingly disconnected and uncertain markets.
The big questions he addresses will be on how do we inject purpose-with-profit strategic thinking into the boardroom; how to connect and grow the critical mass of personal entrepreneurial endeavour aligned with public good; how to find an optimum between shareholder value with social purpose; how to match sustainable innovation with institutional and individual investment and social investment and finally, how to invest in the communities we also wish to also profit from.