‘50 in 250’ campaign to support social enterprise sourcing

23 November 2011

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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.”

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