Last Wednesday on a sunny afternoon in Westminster we launched Year 4 of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge – our flagship campaign working with big businesses to get social enterprises into their supply chains. We welcomed five new partners to the Challenge, each one making a commitment to use their spending power to support social enterprises. So, a big thank you from all of us to ENGIE, Lendlease, Nationwide, SAP and Willmott Dixon for coming on board!

We also had the pleasure of hearing from Adaire Fox-Martin, Executive Board Member at SAP and Head of Global Customer Operations, who announced what could be a game-changer for our sector.

We’re going to be working closely with SAP to use their technology and skills to help more businesses find and buy from social enterprises. A staggering £2 trillion worth of trade passes through SAP’s Ariba platform each year – that’s more than Amazon, eBay and Alibaba combined. The Ariba Network connects millions of buyers and suppliers across the globe and now we have the opportunity to direct some of this spend towards social enterprises. It’s an incredible opportunity and has the potential to not only boost the Corporate Challenge but to also shift how businesses more generally buy their goods and services. Watch this space.

But how is the Corporate Challenge doing so far, I hear you ask?

You can find out more in the Year 3 Impact Report, but in short, we have seen our corporate partners spend more money with social enterprises with the current total being £65.2 million. Corporate contracts have allowed social enterprises to re-invest £5.5 million into their social missions – creating more jobs, opportunities and also allowing them to diversify into new products and markets. There is a way to go before we get to our target of a £1 billion spend but the Corporate Challenge has undoubtedly galvanised a group of forward-thinking businesses who are now committed to supporting our sector.

We are always on the lookout for new partners to join so if you are working with any corporates and think they have an appetite to support social enterprises more broadly, please get in touch and let me know! You can email me at [email protected]

Finally, just to introduce myself, I am the new Director of Business and Enterprise hear at SEUK. I’ll be leading on our work with corporate partners, seeking to build new opportunities for our members and working to get more companies involved in the Corporate Challenge. I only joined the organisation at the beginning of March and I’ve already been inspired by the incredible work carried out by the social enterprises I’ve met. I look forward to meeting many more of you.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Exon

Director of Business and Enterprise, Social Enterprise UK