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Finding genuine social value

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The term social enterprise has become widely used to describe just about any type of business that is doing social good - indeed the Government’s latest factsheet indicates any kind of business, including soletraders, can be referred to as social enterprises

To help promote a genuinely different business model as an alternative, the social enterprise sector came together in 2009, to agree on the criteria for social enterprise with the Social Enterprise Mark, which puts social mission at the centre and limits any profits to shareholders. The Social Enterprise Mark makes it easy to identify, evidence and report on social value in supply chains and more widely. How exactly? How do you know social value is being created and how do you establish the credentials of that organisation?

Through robust criteria for social enterprise, overseen by an independent Certification Panel, the Mark guarantees that an organisation:

  1. has social and/or environmental aims
  2. has its own structure and governance
  3. has sustainable income sources with at least 50% from trading
  4. gives at least 50% of profits to the social mission
  5. distributes residual assets to social/environmental objectives if dissolved
  6. demonstrates its social value

No other social enterprise certification such as this exists, which is why the Social Enterprise Mark is helpful when spin-out social enterprises are set up. The Social Enterprise Mark criteria act as a template when setting up a social enterprise - we provide support and advice in ensuring a social enterprise is genuinely working for people and planet, as well as ensuring the provision of transparency for stakeholders. This way the Mark is key in building trust and confidence with communities, staff, commissioners, and procurement managers. The Mark guarantees that assets and profits are safeguarded for the communities they serve.

The Social Enterprise Mark provides independent proof of impact and service to the community, which is a fundamental part of delivering public services, such as social care.  This has been confirmed to us in the words of John Bryant from the NHS Care Trust, “The Social Enterprise Mark is an excellent tool in enabling us as commissioners to establish the credentials of organisations which are delivering social value.

“Within health and social care the reinvestment of surpluses into social benefits is of huge advantage to those receiving and delivering care and the wider community. The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 focuses commissioners on seeking out such social value from their supply chain. The Mark certainly assists in helping us evidence that.”

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