What is the purpose of the Commission?

The role of the Adebowale Commission on Social Investment is to investigate the current state of the social investment market and how the market could better enable the growth of social enterprises.

The Commission is being kindly supported by Fusion 21 – a national social enterprise.

How can I get involved?

We are keen to hear from anyone interested in social enterprise or social investment who wants to support the Commission.

You can do that through participating in the “Call for Evidence” for the Commission, attending Witness Seminars and sending or sharing any data that you have on how social enterprises are interacting with the social investment market.

Please check the Commission’s main webpage for further updates.

If you would like to discuss support which is not covered by the above, please email  adebowalecommission@socialenterprise.org.uk to discuss further opportunities.

What are you defining as “social investment”?

For the purposes of this Commission, “social investment” means any form of repayable finance (unsecured loan, mortgage, bond, repayable grant etc.) or equity that is given to or invested into social enterprises.

What are you defining as “social enterprise”?

The Commission will use SEUK’s definition which in turn is based on the internationally agreed definition of social enterprise promoted by the Social Enterprise World Forum:

  • The entity must have a primary social or environmental mission that is clearly expressed in its governing documents;
  • It must reinvest the majority of its surplus back into the business or give it to another organisation to deliver its mission;
  • It must be independently run in the interests of delivering its mission;

For more information on what is a social enterprise, read What is it all about?.

How is the Commission independent from Social Enterprise UK?

Social Enterprise UK is providing the secretariat for the Commission enabling the Commissioners to carry out their investigation and make their recommendations. The Commission does not have to subscribe to SEUK’s previously stated policy or reflect their views of Social Enterprise UK.

The views of the Commissioners and the Commission do not necessarily reflect SEUK’s own position or policy.

SEUK will review the final report of the Commissioners and recommendations, like any other organisation, and make its own judgement about next steps.

How will the Commission operate?

In broad terms there will be a “three-step” process.

Firstly, the Commission will seek the views and experiences of social enterprises. The aim will be to understand how customers of the social investment market currently interact with it and how it can be improved. We will also seek to understand what future demand may be and whether that demand is likely to be met given the current state of the market.

Secondly, the Commission will share the findings of this work with the social investment community and ask for their response. This will ensure that there is a dialogue between investors and social enterprises, rather than separate conversations.

Finally, the Commission will reflect on all the evidence provided and publish a report with an analysis of the current challenges and how things need to change in the future to support the development of social enterprises.

During this whole process, there will be a series of Witness Seminars to allow social enterprises, social investors and other experts to give their views directly to Commissioners. There will also be intensive desk research and analysis of relevant available data.

The current social investment market doesn’t exist to only grow social enterprises. Isn’t there a danger that the Commission makes recommendations that are unfair on or unsuited to the market?

Although it is true to say that social enterprises are not the only entities that are being supported by the social investment market, social enterprises do make a large part of the potential group of investees.

The Commission views the difference between impact investment and social investment in that the latter not only seeks to generate positive social and environmental outcomes but also does that through investing in socially driven organisations (e.g. social enterprises, charities, community-owned businesses etc.).

It is therefore legitimate to investigate and consider to what extent the current marketplace is enabling the growth of social enterprises, as a significant part of the role of the marketplace.  

The Commission is, however, aware that there are multiple users of social investment and will consider this when carrying out its investigations.

What is the timeline of the Commission?

The Commission will take an evidence-based approach and give careful consideration to the challenges facing social enterprises and the social investment market.

It is currently estimated that a report will be ready by Autumn 2020.

Please check the main Commission webpage regularly for more information.

Size and scope of social enterprise and social investment market

£3.5bn – the current estimated size of the social investment market

100,000 – the number of social enterprises in the UK

£60bn – the turnover of UK social enterprises

47% – the percentage of social enterprises that report access to finance as a barrier to their sustainability/growth

1,023 – the number of social impact investment transactions in 2018

52% – the percentage of social enterprises that report their turnover has grown in the past 12 months

2m – the number of people employed by social enterprises

30% – the annual growth of social investment market in 2018

Sources: Big Society Capital, Social Enterprise UK

The Adebowale Commission is supported by:

Fusion 21 supported the Adebowale Commission on Social Investment