Build. Back. #3

Following on from my previous posts about returning from Covid in a more sustainable way with different ideas, this post will present some notes around the ideas of finance.

First off, I just want to say that I am definitely not a finance specialist and absolutely nothing in this post is meant as an endorsement or advice. Any services, organisations or people I mention are just things I have found thought provoking – always seek proper financial advice! And probably not off the internet!

Cash-flow for a small business (and I guess for large businesses at the moment) is unbelievably important. Without ready cash, many small businesses cannot survive. An issue linked to the need for cash-flow in micro businesses and startups is that individual businesses rarely have enough money, visibility or clout to compete on a level playing field on many tender calls. And yet, in the Earth observation consultancy world at least, many of the people involved in these smaller companies are respected specialists who looking for a different, flexible way of working. To have them working on a project would likely be a bonus to the overall team. Those of us who fall into this group often end up competing against each other rather than coming  together to be a strong grouping that can work with clients on a wider variety of topics. That’s why, when I heard about Enspiral, and groups like it, my interest was piqued. Enspiral is a collective (originally of developers, but now encompassing a wider skill set) who are coming together to answer larger problems. As such, they are able to form strong groupings of skilled individuals and organisations, but with a common purpose. They have also incorporated methods of handling finance within the collective in a more equitable way (see co-budget for some details).

Linked to these points about funding and cash-flow is the wider concept of the economy. Richard Murphy, a political economist and chartered accountant, and visiting Professor in political economy, accounting and sustainability at the University of Sheffield has some interesting points of view about how Governmental financial decisions can and potentially should be made. He is the author of The Joy of Tax and has an interesting YouTube channel that discusses ideas around the economy, tax, accounting and the Green New Deal. He is politically biased towards the left, but has many thoughts and ideas that make a lot of sense given the economic situation we are faced with. If you are interested in the ‘New Normal’  and how we might remake the economy after Coronavirus and in the face of Brexit, then I think his YouTube videos are worth investigating.

Maybe by now you are starting to see a thread running through this series of posts: I want to see more collaboration, greater emphasis on community structure and working, collective grouping of organisations around solving specific environmental (and other) issues, and a more equitable distribution of money and profits throughout the sector. This isn’t meant to be a politically leaning post, although I can see how some might read it as such, but more a call to find a way to rapidly utilise all of the incredibly positive brainpower that exists in the Earth observation sector to do as much as possible to create a better society and planet, rather than compete over money. Naive? I’m sure. But wouldn’t it be good to break down the old norms and utilise technology and social/community interactions for good?

By having confidence in the work that we do and how we do it, we can make the change that we want to see. We can work together to build the sector, rather than focus on individualism and just thinking of the maximising profit for a single organisation. By growing a sustainable, well-balanced sector all organisations, of whatever size, should be able to thrive.