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23 November 2011 | Adam Leach
A campaign to get 50 major companies to source
from five social enterprises each within the next 250 days has been launched.
The‘50 in 250' campaign,
announced yesterday by Social EnterpriseMark and supported by the City of London,
brought together buyers and social enterprises to discuss potential business
opportunities to reach the goal of getting 50 UK businesses to procure from
five social enterprises.
The government defines a social enterprise
as “a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally
reinvested for that purpose”.
At the event, procurement representatives
from Network Rail, Rothschild and Accenture, mixed
with social enterprises including recruitment firm Local Labor Hire and travel
buyer Travel Matters Enterprises.
Chris White MP, whose social value bill is currently going through parliament,
was keen to make it clear in a speech to delegates that the campaign is about
business, not PR.
“I hope this campaign to promote the use of
social enterprises in supply chains will show that there is no incompatibility
between a sense of social responsibility and the demands of running a
successful business,” he said.
In response to a question about keeping the
social value elements of a supplier in context to cost and quality of service,
Mark Powderham, head of procurement at KPMG Europe, was adamant social enterprises
would not get the advantage. He said: “As much as we are keen to push the
responsible side of our business agenda, we have no intention of lowering the
bar in respect to cost, risk or service.”
“We genuinely believe that out there we can
find companies that can be more agile, more responsive and are going to provide
something more finely tuned to what we are looking for.” He added.
Sophie Hulm, corporate responsibility
manager at City of London, told SM
that she would like to see businesses engage with social enterprises in the
supply chain in the same way that they do through community outreach programs:
“If you’re investing time and money into supporting social enterprises, why not
just buy from them?”
Asked what tip she would give to buyers looking
to get senior managers engaged with the social enterprise market, she said:
“Expose them to it.”