The City of London Corporation (CoL) has picked up a prize for changing its own procurement practices to spend more with social enterprises and for encouraging the City's business community to do the same.
It did this through training staff and implementing a Social Value Panel of external stakeholders to scrutinise plans for major procurements. As a result, it spent more than £800,000 with social enterprises in the past financial year – more than three times the total of just two years ago.
CoL collected the gong in the 'buy social market builder' category of the 16th annual Social Enterprise Awards held at LSO St Luke’s in central London last night. It was one of a whole list of winners who have recognised the achievements of social enterprises and supporters in 11 categories, including social enterprise of the year, women’s champion and inspiring youth enterprise. The ceremony was hosted by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) with television presenter and comedian Sue Perkins making the presentations.
Gary Dowling, head of business enablement at CoL, told SM: “Buying social is quite rightly becoming a hallmark of procurement best practice as organisations continue on the journey to buy responsibly and sustainably. At the same time as competing successfully for our contracts, social enterprises help us to diversify our supply chain, and make a difference in the community."
He said the CoL has led the development of a Buy Social Directory, which makes it simpler for buyers in the public and private sector to identify high quality social enterprises. "The directory is backed by heavyweight partners, including Cabinet Office, Social Enterprise UK, Aspire Group, and Telereal Trillium, who are paving the way to make social enterprises mainstream,” he added.
SEUK chief executive Peter Holbrook said of the ceremony: “Last night’s awards were a fantastic celebration of Britain’s very best social enterprises and champions of the sector. Each year they help shine a light on the extraordinary work social enterprises are doing to help people and the planet. Competition was tougher than ever this year and the shortlist was bursting with inspiring examples of how businesses can have a positive impact on society – the winners deserve to be widely recognised and celebrated.”
The UK now has more than 70,000 social enterprises. They are businesses with a social or environmental mission, contributing more than £24 billion to the UK economy each year.
Full winners round-up
Divine Chocolate - Overall social enterprise of the year
Divine is a Fairtrade chocolate company part-owned by its cocoa farmers, who get a slice of the profits to invest in their communities.
Monwel - One to watch
Monwel produces signs and provides employment to people with disabilities and those furthest from the workforce. It currently employs 32 full-time people from the local community in the Valleys, 96 per cent of whom manage some form of disability.
Furnishing Lives (FRC Group) – Social impact award
FRC Group started out by redistributing good quality, unwanted furniture to those in need. It is now a leading UK enterprise, running commercial businesses that give people in poverty and unemployment the opportunity to change their lives.
Ethex & PEC Renewables – Investment deal of the year
In just seven weeks, Ethex and PEC Renewables rallied investors and local authorities to raise £600,000 in social investment, funding solar panel installations to tackle fuel poverty in the local area. Supported by Plymouth City Council, the deal demonstrates how a national platform, a community-owned organisation and local authority can work together to help harness a movement of socially-motivated investors to create real change.
Social adVentures- Health and social care social enterprise
This Salford-based organisation helps people to lead healthier and happier lives. Through delivering public health and social care contracts and developing a number of subsidiary businesses, its turnover has grown by 300 per cent in recent years, helping it support more than 3,000 of the local community’s most vulnerable people.
Belu – Consumer-facing social enterprise
Bottled water maker Belu donates 100 per cent of its profits to WaterAid. In the past year sales have soared enabling Belu to beat its fundraising target for WaterAid, which has helped to provide access to clean, safe water to roughly 40,000 people in developing countries.
PM Training - Education, training and jobs social enterprise
PM Training provides new work opportunities to 16-18 year olds through range of training and support services. It is currently the largest provider of apprenticeships for this group in the country, with 75 per cent of those who complete training securing jobs afterwards.
Kilsyth Community Market Garden t/a Kelvin Valley Honey - Environmental social enterprise
Kelvin Valley Honey aims to reverse the decline in Scotland’s honey bee population while improving the lives of people who may be isolated in their communities. Its work has helped increase Scotland’s honey bee population by almost 30 million, as well as provide 100 marginalised people with an income, training and employment.
Firstport & Icecream Architecture - Inspiring youth enterprise award
Firstport supports start-up social entrepreneurs in Scotland. Icecream Architecture CIC is a team of community-led facilitators, environmental artists, designers and illustrators who aim to boost regeneration, enterprise, youth engagement and civic pride. Together they created Beyond the Finish Line, a campaign getting young people in Glasgow to regenerate local high streets using social enterprise.
June O’Sullivan MBE, London Early Years Foundation – Social enterprise women’s champion
Under June O’Sullivan’s leadership, London Early Years Foundation has become the UK’s largest social sector childcare provider, operating 26 nurseries and providing high quality childcare to 3,000 children. It supports disadvantaged families that struggle to afford costs associated with childcare.