Business leaders in Bristol and Plymouth have announced that the cities have jointly become the UK’s first social enterprise cities.
The unveiling, which took place on Tuesday, is part of a Social Enterprise Places scheme being run by trade body Social Enterprise UK (SEUK). Towns and cities across the UK are declaring themselves a social enterprise place. In order to meet the criteria, they must promote the social enterprise message and encourage locals to buy from social enterprises.
Social enterprises are businesses that make their money from selling goods and service on the open market but reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community.
Peter Holbrook, SEUK chief executive, said, “Continued austerity is dismantling communities and local amenities, deepening the UK’s social problems and leaving many people out in the cold.
“Social enterprise cities are taking matters into their own hands, re-injecting life into their local area and protecting local economies using social enterprise.
“Bristol and Plymouth are prime examples of what enterprising communities can achieve in times of hardship. We hope to see many more towns and cities celebrate their social enterprise statue.”
Two more cities have launched their bids to achieve social enterprise town status and more are expected to do so later this year.
A report released in July by SEUK outlined how social enterprises were now, in many aspects, more attractive to entrepreneurs than mainstream businesses.
Some of the UK’s most influential social enterprises joined forces in June to form the Social Economy Alliance in a bid to influence policy ahead of the 2015 general election.
Made up of 15 organisations and led by SEUK, it is backed by the likes of the Young Foundation, Co-operatives UK and the Social Investment Forum, as well as a number of thinktanks, charities and MPs.