If you joined our ‘Navigating Different Routes to Market’ session at Social Enterprise Futures 2021, you will have heard a range of suggestions on how social enterprises can reach prospective customers across different market segments – the consumer market, the business-to-business market and public sector markets.

We also decided to compile the most useful resources and links in one place. Here goes.

Public sector markets

If you are a charity or social enterprise looking to sell to central Government, local authorities and/or other public sector buyers, you will find useful guidance on finding contracts, frameworks to join and top tips on tendering at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vcses-a-guide-to-working-with-government

Responding to a tender process is not necessarily the best starting point unless you are sure your organisation fits the scope of the contract, as it can become a drain on your team’s resources, but if you do aim to find tender opportunities then you will find government contracts with a value above £10,000 in central government (and above £25,000 in the rest of the non-devolved public sector) listed on Contract Finder. https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder

You can potentially gain an advantage in government tenders and improve outcomes by helping commissioners to co-design services before a contract specification is even written. Select the “early engagement” or “future opportunity” options when searching on Contract Finder.

Business-to-business

If you are interested in selling a product or service to corporate clients, there may be opportunities through SEUK’s dedicated ‘social procurement’ programmes. In spring 2022, we will be launching a new social procurement initiative which targets a wide range of buying organisations and supports them to find social enterprise suppliers.

This builds on our flagship corporate engagement programme – the Buy Social Corporate Challenge – which brings together a group of high-profile businesses which are aiming to collectively spend £1 billion with social enterprises through their procurement. Becoming a supplier to a large corporate client is often a long-term project in itself and it requires patience and perseverance, but if your product or service is a good match for corporate procurement requirements the opportunities are on the increase. We recommend watching the following webinar as a starting point: https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/webinars/corporate-supply-chains-the-challenges-and-opportunities-for-b2b-social-enterprises/

If you would like to find out more about the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, email business@socialenterprise.org.uk.

E-commerce (consumer markets)

If you are a member of SEUK, the eBay for Change programme may be a useful avenue in engaging with consumers. eBay for Change is a unique partnership between SEUK, The World Fair Trade Organization and eBay to support social entrepreneurs and create jobs in marginalised and vulnerable communities by supporting the growth of the social enterprise sector through ecommerce.

There are currently over 90 social enterprises, housed at the eBay for Change hub, and we will be inviting more social enterprises to join the programme in spring 2022. SEUK has pulled together a FAQs document on the eBay for Change programme. Just follow this link

Email Joanna Pollard at Joanna.Pollard@socialenterprise.org.uk to express your interest in getting involved.

Buy Social Directory

Finally, if you are a member of SEUK make sure you are listed on the Buy Social Directory to get your product or service in front of as many buyers as possible. Email membership@socialenterprise.org.uk if your organisation is not yet on the directory and we will help you to get listed.