Social enterprises should buy more from each other, says sector body


SEUK has launched a campaign to get social enterprises buying from one another. The Buy Social campaign asks social economy organisations to ‘do a great deal’ by buying the products and services they need from social enterprises.



New research has revealed that 88% of social enterprises said they want to buy goods and services from other social enterprises. Currently 1 in 4 do not have any social enterprises in their supply chains. 

The research, carried out by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), shows that 70% of social enterprises have at least one other social enterprise in their supply chain. For the majority of those who took part (32%), social enterprises make up less than 10% of their suppliers, while 28% report a third of their suppliers to be social enterprises.  Only 13% said that the majority of their suppliers are social enterprises. 

When asked what barriers prevented social enterprises buying from others, 35% reported that other social enterprises don’t promote or market themselves to potential social buyers, and 29% had never been able to find social enterprises for the services or products they’ve needed. Very few said that social enterprises couldn’t compete on quality (6%) or price (6%) with other suppliers. 

Do a great deal #buy social 

Participants are being asked to get ONE new social enterprise into their supply chains by Social Enterprise Day on 15 November.  New business deals will be announced on Twitter @SocialEnt_UK and #buysocial - and the best deals will appear on the SEUK website and e-newsletter. 

To help organisations to find a new supplier, information is available on the Social Enterprise UK website, and free campaign materials, including a fold out directory, are available to order online.  

Celia Richardson, Social Enterprise UK’s Director of Communications, said: 

“We believe there is major potential for growth in the social sector if social enterprises trade with one another. Any organisation can grow its own social impact and keep its money in the social economy, simply by changing suppliers to social enterprises. We have done this at Social Enterprise UK and the results have been fantastic. Our members often say they want to trade more with one another so this campaign is designed to help them do it. In a year we hope to have brokered at least 500 deals between social enterprises. This is a relatively simple way to achieve sustainability and growth in our movement.” 

Social Enterprise UK commissioned the social enterprise Poached Creative to develop the Buy Social campaign messaging and design. 

Jessica Smith, Poached Creative director, said: 

“I’m a great believer in the power of the social economy. We use social enterprises for our banking, CRB checks and printing needs and we’ve found we’re able to get what we need at a good price, while achieving a social and environmental impact beyond our own activities. 

“This campaign with Social Enterprise UK is a fantastic opportunity for us to show what we can do creatively and promote the benefits of buying social more widely. We’re currently mid-way through a training programme for unemployed people who want to get into the creative sector and as we grow, we’ll be able to create more jobs and opportunities for them.”

Social Enterprise Day takes place on Thursday 15th November 2012, within Global Entrepreneurship Week.