One of the podcasts I regularly listen to is the BBC's Bottom Line, which thankfully isn't about techniques to avoid showing a VPL, but instead gets three CEOs  to discuss topics of interest to business leaders. I'm not a business leader, but as a leader in the voluntary sector, there's much of interest as they talk about (for example) innovation, regulation, motivation, leadership, marketing and 'talent management'. And it's hosted by one of the Beeb's finest: Evan Davis from the Dragon's Den. I've just listened to the episode on Alternative Finance(which you can also listen to on iPlayer until Feb 2014) . There three leaders of recent finance startups discuss how they're taking on the big incumbents in finance: the retail banks. One is M-PESA (a newish arm of Vodafone) which is changing the face of finance in Africa, particularly Kenya, that allows movement of money through mobile phones. Some estimate 25% of the GDP of the whole country moves through their system. Another is Zopa, which provides loans to individuals and small businesses, funded by ordinary individuals, not big corporations. The rate of interest are smaller, and because they're unsecured, they're available to more people than the traditional banks will lend to, and yet are still providing more than 5% return to the investors. It's been a good reminder to me to put some savings into this, as a novel way of supporting and loving my neighbours. (Though it would be better still if we were able to combine this with the Relational Principles from the excellent Relationships Foundation, and do this with people we actually know, not just with faceless others from the same country. So Zopa in a church community, or amongst parents connected to a particular school ...)

So not only this excites me as a way of getting involved in helping others, it's another example of innovation in practice. Making headway against a very entrenched way of doing things, with potentially big interests at stake, and the opportunity to find new ways to support individuals and our society too ... isn't this similar to the challenge that our various new religious leaders (Justin Welby, Jorge "Pope F1" Bergoglio ...) face? What opportunities will I have as a Christian and parish leader, should I be able to see them? I may not be officially a capital-P "Pioneer leader" in the Church of England, but I think Dave Male is right to say "we're all pioneers now". Perhaps you too will benefit from listening in to the Bottom Line ...

AuthorJonathan Clark