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Businesses urged to ‘buy social’



MPs and private sector businesses gathered today to mark Social Enterprise Day and learn how buying from social enterprises can create a positive impact.

Currently only 49% of social enterprises trade with the private sector, but the Buy Social initiative aims to change this. At an event in the Commons, Social Enterprise UK, which advises big businesses on social enterprise procurement strategy, launched a new guide about supply chains and incorporating social businesses.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said, “Just like having a carbon footprint, every business has a social footprint and this can be strengthened by the purchasing of goods and services from social enterprises.”

He added that many businesses have already taken significant steps towards achieving sustainability, diversity or small business perspective and said that buying from social enterprises, which could contribute to all three, was the next step.

Figures released at the beginning of the month demonstrate that the rise of the social enterprise in the UK is gathering pace. The whole sector grew by 82% this year and generated £2.7 billion to plough back into society.

Minister for employment relations and consumer affairs Jo Swinson said, “Social enterprises do great work maximising the amount of social good they create while working to achieve their financial goals.

“Customers and investors are increasingly thinking beyond simply the prices they are paying and the returns they are seeing. They rightly want to know what steps a business is taking which will have a positive effect on the environment, society, their local community and the employees, before making their decision.”

A survey from sustainable bank Triodos indicated that nearly 3 million investors will consider social investment within the next year, as concern over giving back to society while bringing financial returns becomes more mainstream.

Three leading social entrepreneurs were recently celebrated at the Good Deals conference. The trio were rewarded for their efforts in educating Afghan people, creating a fairtrade chocolate company and chairing a social investment bank.

Further reading:

Social enterprises generate £2.7 billion to plough back into society

Social entrepreneurs celebrated with awards at Good Deals conference

Triodos survey says 3m may consider social investment in next year

Positive investment worth £1.6bn in the UK

Cameron’s keynote speech criticised by social enterprise and environmentalists