International Application Process
Following the approval of C3 as the first international Social Enterprise Mark holder in April 2015, and subsequently FLOCERT in November 2015 and Northdoc in June 2016, we now have a tried and tested international assessment process that can be applied anywhere in the world.
We are happy to receive applications from organisations based in countries outside the UK, but as we are unable to perform the usual verification actions involved in assessing eligibility for the Social Enterprise Mark, the standard application process cannot be employed.
Assessing an organisations eligibility involves examining matters of company governance that are normally contained with a formal constitution that is subject to public scrutiny, usually subject to some form of legislative jurisdiction. As such arrangements differ according to country of origin, when considering international applicants we remain open to alternative forms of evidence to that which would be common in the UK. However, certain minimum requirements still apply. These, and other types of evidence that an organisation may be able to provide in support of an application for the Mark, are outlined below.
In order to conduct an assessment, organisations need to submit details of their constitution or other documents that describe the type of organisation they are, what sort of legal entity and the core operational principles relevant to the way in which they are governed. In the UK, such legal governing documents are registered with a statutory body – most typically an agency called Companies House.
We specifically need this information in order to be able to identify that the following details have been specified within the governing documents:
- The social and/or environmental purpose and objectives of the organisation (or how social and/or environmental purposes are being supported through profit distribution)
- The ownership/leadership of the organisation and how this is made up (in the UK this is usually defined as members, shareholders, owners, or partners etc, who may also be the Directors of the company or who appoint the Directors of the company)
- How any annual profits generated during the course of trading are distributed
- What would happen to any residual assets (money and other resources with a cash value) after paying debts, should the organisation ever cease trading and dissolve.
It is important that any documentation an organisations submits has been translated into English, otherwise we will be unable to complete our assessment.
In most cases we will also require an organisation to obtain and independent legal opinion letter from a recognised source, verifying the constitution supplied, along with its registration within the legal jurisdiction of the country of origin (and how this functions).
We may also ask organisations to provide us with details of independent referees, who ideally have international recognition and would be willing to endorse that the applicant is legitimately serving the social purposes defined in their constitution and meeting the Mark criteria. These organisations may be clients or partners and we may follow up matters with them further to corroborate the references provided.
In order to assess annual income (turnover) and what proportion of this derives from trading activities (the sale of goods and/or services, as opposed to income from donations, pure grant awards, investment and loans etc) we require accounts or other financial records that provide full details of this. Ideally speaking, such accounts will also be formally registered with a legislative body (as they would be in the UK with Companies House).
We also require information that illustrates how an organisation is striving to achieve social and/or environmental objectives, what activities show this, the different outputs and impact they have made.