At a time of political, environmental and economic crisis, we all need to do our bit to build a better world. With inequality on the rise and a climate emergency on our hands, social enterprises are providing us with the hope and solutions we need.
Here at Social Enterprise UK, we’re convinced that social enterprises are the future of business. The UK already has a thriving and active social enterprise sector. There are over 100,000 social enterprises delivering social and environmental benefits through the way they do business. We’re also fortunate to have well-established investment infrastructure in place, with organisations like Good Finance - here to help social enterprises and charities navigate the world of social finance.
So now we need to build momentum in the movement. But where do you start?
To build a better world, we need three things:
1. Amazing social enterprises that make a real impact
2. The financing and investment to support it
3. A powerful, ambitious movement of people.
Uniting the sector: Buy Social
A great example of movement building (even if we say so ourselves) is Social Enterprise UK’s ‘Buy Social’ campaign. Buy Social is our flagship campaign. It aims to build markets for social enterprises among the general public as well as the private and public sectors. It challenges us all to think about where we buy our goods and services, and the social and environmental impact of who we buy from.
The Buy Social campaign is successful because it unites the sector. It brings together social enterprises of all sizes and kinds around a single campaign - to show the world that there is a better way of doing business.
The campaign launched in 2013 with the goal being to encourage social enterprises to buy from one another. It’s since grown into something much bigger. Campaigns that have sprung from it include the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, a first of its kind initiative which will see a group of leading companies collectively spend £1 billion with social enterprises through bringing them into their supply chains. Our public-facing campaigns, which aim to raise awareness of the sector, were also a result of the initial Buy Social campaign. This has included campaigns such as Social Saturday, which we've run for the past five years.
This year we are running a brand new public-facing campaign, ‘Buy Social for a Better World’. It's all about celebrating the positive impact you can make through buying from social enterprises.
Focusing on Impact: Buy Social for a Better World
From 7-12th October, Buy Social for a Better World will take place. It’s an opportunity for social enterprises to tell the public about the impact they can help create when they choose to buy from them. The more of us that get involved the more we can raise the profile of social enterprise, creating an even greater positive impact when people #BuySocial. We want to make as much noise as possible to make sure everyone knows what a social enterprise is and why it’s so important to support them.
The future of business is a world where the social, environmental and financial impact of every purchase are given equal weight.
It’s up to everyone in the sector to make sure the public knows and believes this.
With a political meltdown in full swing and a 24-hour news cycle it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s important to come together as a sector to cut through the noise. We don’t want to wake up in a few years to realise it’s too late for the climate and the communities suffering around the world, while we’d all been too busy talking about Brexit!
That’s why we need as many social enterprises as possible to get involved.
There’s even an exciting augmented reality element to this year’s campaign. It's supported by our patrons Michael Sheen and Chris Addison as well as Caitlin Moran and Sali Hughes. If you want to find out what Caitlin Moran’s doing appearing in a menstrual cup, or why Michael Sheen is popping out of cans of beer then click here.
With the support of the sector, we can build a movement towards a common purpose and establish social enterprise as the future of business.
If you run or work for a social enterprise, make sure to get involved.
It’s important to remember that no matter how much awareness we raise and consumers we inspire, the sector can only flourish with exciting innovative social enterprises to meet the demand and the finance to sustain them.
At Social Enterprise UK, we exist to support the sector to grow and succeed. One of the questions our members often ask us is where to find out more about funding opportunities. If you’re a social enterprise wanting to find out more about social investment check out the Good Finance directory and the host of other resources on their website.