Front cover of Social Enterprise Mark CIC social impact report

Social Enterprise Mark CIC
2020/21 impact report

As a social enterprise, we hold ourselves accountable to the same standards that underpin our assessment of other social enterprises, which includes reporting on how social objectives are being achieved.

We report on our social impact on an annual basis through the social impact evidence on our directory listing, and now for the first time we have created a dedicated Impact Report, which summarises the impact we created during 2020/21 in our role as an advocate for the social enterprise sector.

This impact was not created in isolation and we recognise and value the power of collaboration in creating positive social change. Thanks go to all our partners and our social enterprise community for their contributions!

Click here to view/download the report.

 

8 Tips For Success: Taking Your Social Enterprise To The Next Level

Charity Bank and Social Enterprise Mark CIC meet an expert guide banner

We have recently collaborated with Charity Bank on the latest instalment of their Meet an Expert series, where they bring together sector leaders to provide expert opinion and insights to charities and social enterprises.

In a special guide, our MD Lucy Findlay shares her tips to help other social enterprises to learn from the mistakes and benefit from the wisdom Social Enterprise Mark CIC has accrued over the last decade of working within the sector.

Download your free copy from the Charity Bank website.

Social Enterprise Gold Mark Outstanding Practice

Recognising outstanding practice in social enterprise

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark was introduced almost seven years ago, providing a framework to encourage and recognise excellence in social enterprise, that encapsulated and built upon the standards established by the criteria of the original Social Enterprise Mark.

A few years ago, we completed a review and revision of these standards and the assessment process, which now serves to distinguish organisations that have demonstrated an exceptional level of consistency and depth of compliance across all the Gold Mark criteria. Having completed the re-assessment of all existing Social Enterprise Gold Mark Holders, any organisation that now engages with a Gold Mark assessment can now be awarded one of two levels of accreditation, as follows:

  • Social Enterprise Excellence – where an organisation has demonstrated a range of best practice across all five of the additional Gold Mark criteria as whole, even if they are stronger in some criteria, and less so in others.
  • Social Enterprise Outstanding Practice – where an organisation has demonstrated the highest levels of excellence and has clearly and unequivocally shown robust best practice across all the Gold Mark criteria.

Organisations that demonstrate the highest levels of excellent practice may be awarded the distinction of Social Enterprise Outstanding Practice. This standard is meant to be demanding, and whilst it possible to attain this recognition immediately, it may sometimes only be possible through closely engaging with all the requirements of the framework, which is best achieved through the Social Enterprise Gold Mark assessment and first demonstrating Social Enterprise Excellence. The assessment process helps inform where an organisation stands in relation to the Gold Mark framework, in order to better understand what specific development may be required to achieve Outstanding Practice.

University of WinchesterWe are delighted to announce that the University of Winchester has become the first organisation to be awarded the Social Enterprise Outstanding Practice status.

Assessment and Compliance Manager Richard Cobbett, who was responsible for assessing the University, said: “The Social Enterprise Gold Mark sets standards of social enterprise excellence, which an organisation can work with to help raise their performance and achieve recognition for the highest levels of best practice in what it means to be an excellent social enterprise.

The University of Winchester have held the Gold Mark for several years now, and in the intervening period between assessments, have continued to build upon the levels of excellence they originally reached, particularly in the criteria of stakeholder engagement and reporting social impact. Their progress and achievements in these areas reinforce their award for Social Enterprise Gold Mark Outstanding Practice, the first organisation to have achieved this, and the evidence suggests there is much to come from them as a result of these efforts.”

Our accreditation portfolio provides a pathway for development for all social enterprises, from those just establishing themselves to those who are beacons of a broad range of best practice. Any social enterprise committed to continuous improvement and external scrutiny can engage with the framework to help develop and reinforce recognition of their good practice against clear and robust standards.

If you have any questions about the Social Enterprise Gold Mark and assessment framework please get in touch.

SE100 index badge 2021

Social Enterprise Mark CIC included in index of top social enterprises

We are delighted to have been recognised in the NatWest SE100 Index of the UK’s top social enterprises for the third year in a row.

The SE100, which has been delivered by Pioneers Post, in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, for the last ten years, recognises and rewards the leading 100 social enterprises across the UK each year, and also builds greater intelligence about the growing social enterprise movement through the collection of both data and stories.

Tim WestOn announcing the 2021 index earlier this month, Tim West, Founding Editor of Pioneers Post, said: “It’s always a high point of our year to reveal the names of the UK’s top 100 social enterprises, and a real pleasure to give these organisations and their teams some well-deserved recognition.

It’s never easy to make our final selection but it’s always an inspiring exercise. Their stories remind us what’s possible when social purpose and business savvy come together, even in these times of incredible pressure and uncertainty experienced during the past year.”

Congratulations to all the businesses featured in the index – we are in impressive company! We were especially pleased to see several members of our social enterprise community are also included:

  • Charity Bank
  • Forward Carers
  • Impact Hub King’s Cross
  • Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise
  • Pilotlight
  • Resonance
  • Social Ark

You can view the full list on the Pioneers Post website.

Solent Business School atrium/lobby with large red pod

Lucy Findlay joins new Business Advisory Board at Solent University

Our MD Lucy Findlay is proud to have been invited to join a new Business Advisory Board at Solent Business School.

This Board, which brings together senior business leaders with an interest and influence in relevant industries and organisations across various areas of business, will help inform student success, curriculum development and knowledge exchange.

Board members will provide input and feedback for both strategy development and operational requirements, such as supporting student employability, graduate outcomes, mentoring and ensuring our courses are future-proofed. They will also be actively involved in driving knowledge exchange between business and Solent’s student community, sharing their knowledge, expertise and experience through a range of programmes and initiatives.

On joining the Board, Lucy said: “I am very pleased to join the Solent Business School Business Advisory Board. I ‘m hoping to apply my knowledge and experience gained over the years in social enterprise to help prepare students and graduates for the new demands of the business world – where social and environmental issues are integral to a sustainable business model to create a better world.”

Caroline Walsh, Director of Solent Business schools said: “This exciting initiative will provide the school with an additional platform for collaboration and innovation with business.  It will help Solent achieve its strategic priorities by producing dynamic, work ready graduates that industry needs.

“By ensuring that the school is aligned to relevant industry practices and future skills needs, their valuable insights will benefit staff, students and the economy, Caroline continues.”

Visit the Solent University website to find out more about the Business Advisory Board and its members.

Making a Mark competition winner badge

2021 Making a Mark competition winner

Today, we are excited to reveal the final winner of our 2021 Making a Mark competition, which celebrates and recognises the incredible impact created by social enterprises during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We usually announce the competition winner at a special awards reception at our annual conference, but, like many events over the last year, this celebration has been moved online. This year, we are excited to be working with our media partner Pioneers Post to showcase the fantastic stories of impact that characterise the social enterprise sector.

Beyond Recovery logoWe are delighted to announce the winner of the 2021 Making a Mark competition is… Beyond Recovery!

The judges were really impressed with Beyond Recovery’s entry (video below), especially as a fairly new social enterprise, which had to adapt quickly when the Covid restrictions meant they weren’t able to deliver their offender rehabilitation programmes in prisons.

On being notified of their success, Beyond Recovery founder Jacqueline Hollows said: “We are delighted to be the winner of the Making a Mark competition. This award means so much to us all after a year of hard work and dedication to supporting our beneficiaries in new and innovative ways. We were also very impressed with the other finalists and wish them all the best in their endeavours and acknowledge the amazing work they are doing.”

You can find out more about Beyond Recovery in a special competition showcase in Pioneers Post.

Forward Carers logoIn addition to Beyond Recovery, the judges also wanted to recognise Forward Carers as a very close contender and have awarded them Highly Commended status.

As Pauline Gannon, Co-Founder of Social Impact Ireland and one of the judges, explained: “I loved how the Foward Carers video gave a voice to so many. They brought you to the heart of their social enterprise and the work they do. It was a very well laid out story and explanation, which showed how they rose to all challenges and showed great adaptability and resilience.”

Beyond Recovery were shortlisted as finalists alongside four other organisations, and we would like to extend our congratulations to the other finalists:

  • Montage of company logosHope Enterprises
  • Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise
  • University of Winchester

Our thanks go to our external judging panel for their time and support:

Celebrating the social enterprise response to Covid-19

After a break last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we are excited that our annual Making a Mark competition has returned for 2021.

Earlier this year, we invited our social enterprise community to share their ‘Story of 2020’, which illustrates how they have responded to the demands and challenges created by Covid-19 – i.e. how they are ‘Making a Mark’.

We were really impressed with the quality and variety of submissions, which were scored by an external judging panel, made up of representatives from across the social business sector, including Tim West from Pioneers Post and Ali Ward of Social Enterprise Yorkshire & Humber (SEYH).

We are now delighted to announce the below shortlist:

  • Montage of company logosBeyond Recovery
  • Forward Carers
  • Hope Enterprises
  • Peninsula Dental Social Enterprises
  • University of Winchester

Entries were judged according to how engaging they were in describing the key role of social enterprises in the fight against Covid-19.

Click here to view the entries from each of the finalists.

The winner will be announced in June, with a special competition showcase feature in the Pioneers Post online magazine.

Quote - "you are leading the way in advocating on behalf of the sector for the recognition it requires and deserves"

Social Enterprise Mark CIC 2021 stakeholder survey summary report

Earlier this year, we conducted a comprehensive survey of our community of accredited social enterprises, as well as wider stakeholders, to ensure our services continue to address the evolving needs of the growing social enterprise sector as we enter a new phase of growth.

Many thanks to all who took the time to respond – we recognise the many demands on your time and really appreciate your participation. The feedback is invaluable in helping us to continue to develop robust, relevant and credible standards for the growing social enterprise sector.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC stakeholder survey report front coverWe have now analysed the responses and are excited to share this summary report, which highlights the key findings from the survey and illustrates the impact we have on the social enterprise sector.

The report contains headline findings and statistics, including:

  • The impact of Covid-19 on social enterprises
  • The impact and influence of social enterprise accreditation
  • The influence of Social Enterprise Mark CIC
  • The customer experience

As a customer-focussed organisation, the findings will now be used to inform our strategic direction and the future development of our accreditation services.

If you have any comments or questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Grey and orange overlapping circles with a stamp across the top left saying 'Approved Employer'

Recognising exemplar employers of disabled people

Social Enterprise Disability Employment MarkIn 2019, we launched the Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark (SEDEM); a new standard for social enterprises that primarily deliver social value through the employment of people with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

This bespoke accreditation was designed specifically for the supported business sector, with the aim of providing assurance for commissioners/funding bodies and disabled people on the specialist supportive environment provided for employees with disabilities.

Following an initial pilot phase with a number of supported businesses, including Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company and MTIB, we have now developed the criteria and assessment process. This was done in consultation with the Supported Business Steering Group* to ensure the criteria and assessment is relevant and appropriately robust.

Assessments will be reviewed by an independent Accreditation Panel, which comprises individuals from different backgrounds, including those with experience of disabilities and long-term health conditions, and the criteria being examined. The Panel’s role will be to consider and make judgements on assessments conducted, ensuring these conform with criteria expectations and setting new precedents for assessing eligibility going forward.

Local Authority Disability Employment MarkAfter initial testing of SEDEM with a number of local authorities, we also developed a separate accreditation, the Local Authority Disability Employment Mark (LADEM), to recognise the specific benefits of supported businesses that are embedded in Local Authorities.

We are now rolling out these accreditations more widely to provide recognition to innovative employers that are tackling the disability employment gap by creating supportive working environments, which empower disabled people to find and maintain meaningful employment. Applications are subject to an external assessment process, where organisations are required to describe how they are meeting the criteria and submit supporting evidence in respect of this.

If you want to get recognised as an exemplar employer and prove how you are delivering social value through the employment of people with disabilities or long-term health conditions, you can register your interest and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss the next steps.

 


*The Supported Business Steering Group comprises members of the British Association of Supported Employment and other sector stakeholders. They provide an advocacy and lobbying role for supported businesses and promoting the employment of people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. This includes regular engagement with the Department of Work and Pensions, who manage funding in support of these interests, who were also involved in the consultation around the development of these accreditations.

Red background with a white sign saying 'We are hiring'

Join our team!

Are you passionate and driven to help build a better world and have experience in sales or business development?

We have a vacancy for a Business Development Manager to join our small team, to cover a period of maternity leave (up to 12 months).

This exciting and rewarding role works closely with the Managing Director to ensure that business development, sales and renewals targets are successfully achieved.

Key Duties and responsibilities include:

  • Contributing to overall business planning
  • Ensuring that new customer sales and renewals targets are met
  • Working proactively to develop, manage and follow up on leads
  • Managing initial sales enquiries
  • Co-ordinating the application and renewals process, including effectively resolving queries and complaints
  • Representing Social Enterprise Mark CIC effectively at events
  • Building and developing effective partnerships

As Business Development Manager, you will have knowledge and awareness of the social enterprise environment and personal values and convictions that fit with the social enterprise movement and business model.

We are looking for candidates with:

  • Demonstrable experience of and skills in business development/sales in a commercial context
  • Excellent customer service and people skills
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills
  • Attention to detail, particularly in developing and delivering processes
  • Organisational and planning skills, including achieving goals and deadlines
  • Flexibility and willingness to travel where necessary
  • Ability to work independently and manage own workload and operate as part of a small, cohesive team
  • Good literacy and numeracy skills
  • IT literacy

Roots HR CIC is handling applications for this role – visit their website for full details and to apply.

Closing Date: 11.59 pm 16th May 2021

Interviews: 24th or 26th May 2021

Wooden tiles spelling out 'support'

Responding to the needs of the sector – assessment relaxation

During the Covid pandemic, we have been keen to support our social enterprise community in any way we can. We recognise there is likely to be long-lasting economic consequences for many social enterprises (like all other businesses), including a drop in their trading income following an increased reliance on grants and funding to support them through the crisis. Some may even have ceased trading temporarily due to national restrictions on businesses in certain sectors.

Photo of a shopfront with an open sign in the windowAs social enterprises work to re-establish their businesses in the aftermath of the Covid outbreak, we are keen to support them to get back on their feet, whilst continuing to recognise them for meeting recognised standards of good practice.

Therefore, we have consulted our Accreditation Panel and they have agreed a temporary relaxation of the Social Enterprise Mark assessment criterion around trading income.

We will continue to ask new applicants and existing Mark Holders to report their income levels, so that we can assess how social enterprises have been affected; but provided the trading criterion requirement* was being met before the outset of the pandemic lockdown, any failure to meet it following this will not count against an organisation’s eligibility to hold the Social Enterprise Mark (and similar conditions will apply for our other accreditations).

We hope this measure will alleviate pressure on our existing Social Enterprise Mark network, as well as encouraging other social enterprises to consider joining our pathway to recognised standards of good practice and excellence.

We remain responsive to the challenges facing the sector and will continue to consider adjustments to our processes, while continuing to deliver meaningful accreditation services.

If you have any questions around the assessment requirements, please contact Richard Cobbett, Assessment and Compliance Manager.

 


*The trading criterion normally requires organisations to demonstrate that they have been recently trading and that at least 50% of their income has derived from sales and fees, or similar receipts in respect of services and product outputs, as opposed to support grants, loans, interest, donations and other similar types of income.

Pioneers Post media partnerMaking a Mark competition

Partnership to boost the importance of storytelling for social enterprises

We are excited to announce we are working in partnership with social enterprise news network Pioneers Post to recognise and celebrate the fantastic stories of change that characterise the social enterprise sector.

Pioneers Post has come on board as the official media partner of our Making a Mark competition, which will showcase the incredible impact social enterprises have been creating during the Covid-19 pandemic, by sharing stories of how they have responded to the challenges of the last 12 months and weathered the storm to play a vital role in the response to the Covid outbreak. Pioneers Post Founding Editor Tim West will be joining an external judging panel, which will review the competition entries to select a shortlist and final winner, which will be announced in June.

Speaking about his role as a judge, Tim West said:

Tim West“What is a good story and how do you tell it in the most effective way? We all like to celebrate success – and goodness knows, we need some celebrating after the past year – but at Pioneers Post, we think the best ‘success stories’ are not simply about triumph in the face of adversity, but are those that we can all learn from. They need to be clear, engaging and honest – telling the whole story, warts and all, without glossing over the difficult stuff.

So in this Making a Mark competition, the ‘winning’ stories for me will be those that move and inspire but which also confront the challenges, explain the solutions – and provide more opportunities for positive impact as we ‘build back better’ in the coming months and years.”

Pioneers Post is an independent media platform committed to ‘solutions-led’ journalism. Operating as a social enterprise, it aims to explore, explain, connect, challenge and inspire this new wave of changemakers around the globe, whose pioneering approaches seek to build a better future for people and planet.

SE100As part of the partnership, we will be supporting the NatWest SE100 Index and Social Business Awards, which has been delivered by Pioneers Post, in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, for the last ten years.

The SE100 Index recognises and rewards the leading 100 social enterprises across the UK each year, and also builds greater intelligence about the growing social enterprise movement through the collection of both data and stories. We are encouraging our social enterprise network to enter the awards and our MD Lucy Findlay is also joining the SE100 judging panel, which will select the nominees/entrants which demonstrate best business practice in six categories: Growth, Impact, Resilience, Leadership, Social Investment and Climate, as well as selecting an award-winner in each of these categories.

Speaking about the partnership, Lucy Findlay said:

“We are really delighted to be working in partnership with our old friends at Pioneers Post.  Working together we can really highlight some of the great work and stories from social enterprises that have been on the cutting edge of both responding to the pandemic as well as helping communities to recover as we move forwards into hopefully a more positive outlook for us all. 

Social enterprises are so important at this time.  We need to use every opportunity available to illustrate our leadership in creating a more sustainable economy that helps address the huge disparities that have been further exacerbated over this devastating year.”

Social enterprises can find out more information about the SE100 Index and Social Business Awards and submit nominations/applications here: https://www.pioneerspost.com/news-views/20210312/uk-social-enterprise-top-100-champion-climate-action-and-covid-recovery

Enterprise Development Programme logo

Enterprise Development Programme supports social enterprise to gain accreditation

Second Shot Coffee logoSecond Shot Coffee, a social enterprise that trains, employs, and supports people affected by homelessness, has met recognised standards of good practice to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.

The Social Enterprise Mark is an externally assessed accreditation, which provides an independent guarantee that an organisation has met sector-agreed criteria and is operating as a genuine social enterprise, committed to creating positive social change.

Second Shot Coffee was supported to apply for accreditation through the Enterprise Development Programme, which aims to support charities and social enterprises to become more financially resilient by developing new enterprise models, or by growing existing ones.

The Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and delivered by a coalition of national partners, including Homeless Link, which is the delivery partner for the homelessness sector. As part of the programme, Homeless Link worked with Julius Ibrahim, founder of Second Shot Coffee, to identify which support could help them grow their enterprise activity to become more financially sustainable.

Murphy Hopkins-Hubbard, Enterprise Development Manager at Homeless Link, suggested to Julius that accreditation may be beneficial for Second Shot Coffee and the EDP grant supported him to apply for the Social Enterprise Mark. After an independent assessment process to ensure the organisation met the sector-agreed criteria, which defines what it means to be a social enterprise, Second Shot Coffee was awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in early February 2021.

Murphy Hopkins-HubbardMurphy said: “We have worked with 20 homelessness organisations this year as part of the Enterprise Development Programme and each of them has undergone diagnostic consultations to understand what support would be most valuable. It’s so exciting to see Julius’s work with developing Second Shot Coffee recognised through the Social Enterprise Mark. We hope to find this accreditation boosts the credibility of the organisation as well as boost opportunities for partnerships.”

Second Shot Coffee was set up to tackle negative misconceptions and lack of understanding around homelessness. By providing employment and training to individuals that have been failed by society, it aims to eliminate these perceptions and bring people closer together, and in doing so improve the long-term life outcomes and wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness.

Julius IbrahimOn being awarded the Social Enterprise Mark, Julius Ibrahim said “Creating meaningful impact has been at the core of Second Shot Coffee since we opened in 2016. It’s amazing to now have the Social Enterprise Mark to underpin that dedication and to highlight the work we do. Going forward we’re excited to grow within the community and work with new partners to shout about the importance of social businesses as we progress on to the next phase of the Second Shot story.”

To find out more about Second Shot Coffee click here.

To find out more about Homeless Link and the Enterprise Development Programme click here.

Top 100 women in social enterprise

Euclid Network announces Europe’s Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, Euclid Network has announced the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise, which features women leaders in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation from across Europe.

Lucy Findlay with her Euclid Network Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise certificateOur Managing Director Lucy Findlay was delighted to be included in this list of exceptional social enterprise women leaders, in recognition of her contribution to the social enterprise sector over the last decade.

Lucy said “I’m honoured to be in the company of so many amazingly driven women who are acting to change the world for the better. I think that this initiative is a great idea – it gives well deserved recognition, profile and voice to women in the sector who are often quietly getting on with the job.”

For almost 15 years, Euclid Network has been fostering social entrepreneurship and social innovation in Europe through knowledge exchange, capacity building, networking and international advocacy. In the spirit of empowering women leaders in Europe, it launched the Top 100 Women in Social Enterprise initiative in partnership with Empow’her, to celebrate women in the social enterprise sector, spotlighting their impact, journey and achievements, connecting them and enabling them to learn from and inspire each other.

Click here to meet the women who are leading the way in social entrepreneurship and innovation in the European social enterprise sector.

Free WriteWell community places for accredited social enterprises

Do you need a way to de-stress and boost your positivity?

WriteWell logoWriteWell, a new online writing community designed to support mental health and wellbeing, offers people the opportunity to explore writing as a practical self-care tool to boost health and happiness — no writing experience is necessary.

To support our social enterprise community during the pandemic we’ve partnered with WriteWell to offer a number of FREE 3-month places on a first come, first served basis.

Illustration on a hand holding a pencil and drawing a plant stemWriteWell offers the opportunity to tune into the power that writing and creativity have to bring perspective and fresh insight, particularly in difficult times. A growing body of research shows that writing and creativity can have a positive effect on mental health and help to build resilience. At the same time, being part of a learning community and writing alongside others can motivate, inspire change, and help alleviate feelings of isolation.

WriteWell is designed to work for people from all education levels and backgrounds, and as well as supporting mental health offers the opportunity to develop writing and creative skills that are much in demand in the professional arena.

The online platform offers a variety of learning activities for people to take part in. There are courses designed to help you build resilience, navigate change and create calm, as well live workshops with writing and wellbeing experts. There are also fun creative warm-ups, a library packed with uplifting resources, and a monthly book group.

WriteWell offers a safe learning space with moderators managing the community day to day, helping people find and complete activities. It is easy to access and easy to use.

The online community has been developed by the Professional Writing Academy, which already offers advanced therapeutic writing courses and has nearly 20 years’ experience of building online learning communities and premium courses.

Social enterprises accredited by  Social Enterprise Mark CIC can reserve their free 3-month place by clicking here. You must be over 18.

More information about WriteWell is available here.

Share your ‘Story of 2020’ to enter our Making a Mark competition

We know that many social enterprises have been at the forefront of the response to Covid-19 and will also play a vital role in the recovery from this crisis, and we are keen to showcase the incredible impact that social enterprises have been creating during this challenging time.

What's your story chalkboardFor our annual ‘Making a Mark’ competition, we are inviting our Mark holders to share their ‘Story of 2020’, showing how their organisation responded to the Covid-19 outbreak and how they have weathered the storm to continue providing much needed support to local communities and wider society. We are looking for stories of resilience and adaptability, of which we know there are many!

We are encouraging video submissions where possible – these need not be professionally created, just a short video message recorded on a phone will do! All we ask is that it clearly illustrates how the organisation has responded to the demands and challenges created by Covid-19 – this could be providing new services, switching to new ways of delivering services, or supporting different individuals/groups to your usual beneficiaries. If submitting a video, we ask that it does not exceed 5 minutes in length.

Entries will be judged according to how engaging they are in describing the key role of social enterprises in the fight against Covid-19. When judging entries, consideration will be given to such elements as:

  • Is the impact of Covid-19 on the organisation, its beneficiaries and other stakeholders (e.g. staff) clearly articulated?
  • How has the organisation worked to address these impacts? What results have there been?
  • How imaginative and creative was the subject matter in terms of how the organisation responded to particular issues or needs?
  • How the story is presented and conveyed

The competition is open to all organisations accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC. To enter, simply send across your ‘Story of 2020’ to marketing@socialenterprisemark.org.uk by Friday 16th April. Although we do encourage video submissions, we will accept alternative entries if video is not a viable option for you. Alternatives could include impact reports, news articles, or updated social impact statements.

We will select a shortlist from the entries, which will be showcased on our website and via social media. An external panel will judge the final entries, with the winner being announced in June.

As part of our partnership with Pioneers Post, the winner and finalists will be showcased in a special competition feature in the Pioneers Post online magazine.

If you have any questions or would like any additional guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Wooden tiles spelling out the MIND THE G_P

Mind the gap: Women’s leadership in social enterprise

By Lucy Findlay (MD of Social Enterprise Mark CIC), Julie Hawker (Joint CEO of COSMIC) and Pauline Gannon (CEO of Social Impact Ireland)

International Women's Day banner with photos of Lucy Findlay, Julie Hawker and Pauline Gannon

Like many, as three women leaders in the social enterprise sector, we have been carrying on supporting our teams and negotiating our businesses around the challenges of this time of crisis. For us it has meant looking hard at what we are doing, exploring different ways of working and responding to the needs of our customers and stakeholders as well as planning for how we will contribute to a better society moving forwards.

Now, there is no denying that leading any organisation, business, charity has been tough this past year whether male or female. But it’s also true that many, many women in leadership positions do not benefit from established networks for their support and peer learning. And this applies in business, charity, but especially in social enterprises where the prioritisation of networking and support has rarely been strong, and even less-so during this time of unprecedented crisis. But as we start to put our heads back above ground-level once more, its clear we need support.

Women tend to lead with more empathy and tend to have a personal connection to the work they do within the Social Enterprise space. A global pandemic has heightened the need for empathy, a need we, as women, rise to meet. Whether it’s the teams we work within, our services users, friends or family, with the heightened need for empathy comes also a heightened feeling of stress. 

So, when life is so frenetic, as we have experienced in particular over the past year, it can be hard to focus on our own support needs and this can lead to a feeling of isolation and disempowerment. Technology can help, but sometimes it adds to the communication pressure that we all feel, which can be overwhelming both in our businesses and in our private lives (which have merged more than ever over the last year). Zooms and Teams meetings also makes it harder to read the room and respond to the needs of both our staff and customers, who are all affected by the pandemic themselves.

Leadership programmes are hard enough to come by in social enterprise let alone a programme aimed at women. This need is more urgent now than ever, we all crave that quality connection with like-minded women in a space that inspires but also allows the real issues to be discussed, along with much needed peer to peer support.

Many women who find themselves leading social enterprises have a recognition that they “never chose to be CEO – the job chose me!”… our passion is often the factor that led us to achievements, and to role seniority. Our commitment, vision and values provided the leverage to get to the top. And it’s a lonely place, particularly during the past year.

Focus and facilitated time are essential for creativity and innovation are much harder to come by. Craving connection with those who inspire and understand our space, drive and ambition. You can’t just go for a coffee with a friend or colleague and chat! All three of us have found that much of our drive and strength come from informally speaking, exchanging ideas and working together and this becomes much more of an effort when we can no longer meet face to face.

We have also had brief discussions about how we gain more formal support through leadership programmes. According to the 2019 State of Social Enterprise Report, 40% of social enterprises are run by women. We did a bit of research and found….. nothing! Leadership programmes are hard enough to come by in social enterprise let alone a programme aimed at women. This need is more urgent now than ever,  we all crave that quality connection with like-minded women in a space that inspires but also allows the real issues to be discussed, along with much needed peer to peer support.   

There are some great initiatives which are adding profile to the work of women leading in Social Enterprises, including the Natwest WISE100 celebrating the top 100 women working each year – 2020 included Lucy for her work with Social Enterprise Mark CIC. But there are no specific networks or peer learning programmes that we could find. And so this got us thinking – is this a gap we could fill?

International Women's DayThis made us think about how we get the conversation going. Being three female ‘action takers’, we immediately recognised the opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day today (8th March) by starting the much needed conversation. Therefore, we have decided to invite you, the women who inspire us, as a start. Some of the Social Enterprise Mark community’s international women leaders and supporters will attend an initial meeting to discuss this very issue and how we can better support one another as a network.  We can’t wait to hear the ideas!

If you are interested in joining discussions on this in the future please let us know by emailing us on enquire@socialenterprisemark.org.uk. Do keep an eye on our newsletter too.

 

White text on a black background: recruitment

Recruitment for new specialist Certification Panel

Social Enterprise Disability Employment MarkWe are looking to recruit a specialist Certification Panel to oversee the assessment process for our bespoke accreditations for the disability employment sector – the Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark and the Local Authority Disability Employment Mark.

The criteria for these accreditations has already been developed with the aid of people with declared disabilities or long-term health conditions, as well as organisations who employ and support them. We therefore want to ensure this experience continues to be reflected in the oversight role performed by the Certification Panel.

As such, we are ideally looking for people with a declared disability or a long-term health condition, who can bring their lived experience when helping the Panel reflect on the evidence being examined as part of the assessment process. Over time, they will also provide a valuable contribution to how the accreditation criteria and assessment process may evolve.

The Panel’s role will be to consider and make judgements on assessments conducted, ensuring these conform with criteria expectations and setting new precedents for assessing eligibility going forward. This will include reviewing all assessments where set evidence requirements are not clearly met, and routinely examining a selection that have been approved by SEMCIC every year, to ensure consistent standards of assessment are being applied.

In the interests of independence and impartiality, we are seeking representatives from outside the group of organisations currently involved in these accreditations. To find out more about the role and to express your interest, please contact Richard Cobbett at richardc@socialenterprisemark.org.uk or 07813 151234.

Please note this is a voluntary role and involvement typically requires attendance at two meetings a year, which are usually conducted in Exeter or Plymouth, although virtual attendance is also an option. Outside of this requirement, Panel members are called upon to review assessments across the year. Although the number of times this happens may vary, it is unlikely to exceed a couple of hours in a month and it is quite rare for the Panel to be called upon in this way more than half a dozen times a year.

New Economy Alliance logos

Lobbying government for improved access to financial support (Part 2)

Throughout the Covid crisis, we have been working with our partners across the social sector to ensure that appropriate support packages are available to get social businesses through this crisis.

As part of this work, our Managing Director Lucy Findlay has taken a lead for the New Economy Alliance on tackling issues that many social businesses are having in accessing the government’s emergency finance measures, which the BBC recently reported on.


The Restore Trust logoThe BBC report features the The Restore Trust in Bristol, which is one of many social enterprises that has faced long delays getting necessary support. They explained that they had “tried every lender on the government’s list… none of them would let us open a new account and get a bounce-back loan.”

The social sector has been raising awareness of these issues for several months and it is now absolutely vital that these are addressed by government, to enable social businesses, which are playing a crucial role for our communities in this pandemic, to continue their important work for the long-term. The latest research from the social sector shows that Covid-related uncertainty, trading income and other funding/finance are the leading concerns for social entrepreneurs in the year ahead.

Back in the autumn, we collected feedback from the social sector, which showed there were some fundamental gaps and challenges in accessing the vital financial support being offered by the government. In particular, there were clear obstacles to social businesses trying to navigate the government emergency loan schemes – Bounce Back Loans (BBLs) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs).

As we reported in a recent news post, consistent anecdotal evidence from social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses showed us that there are two key obstacles blocking access to government-backed loans:

  1. Many ethical and social banks that social enterprises bank with are not approved to provide Bounce Back Loans
  2. Social enterprises are not able to open new accounts with participating banks, with waiting times to open new accounts often being several months

In January, we wrote a letter to Minister John Glen (Economic Secretary to the Treasury), raising our concerns that many vital services are in danger of being lost unless access to emergency finance is improved. We were disappointed to receive a response which, although sympathetic to the plight of social enterprises, basically demonstrated that the government is unwilling to intervene in what they see as operational matters which are under the “commercial discretion” of the banks involved.

We plan to respond to the Minister, proposing solutions to the problems he acknowledged in his letter. We propose the following actions, which can be made to Government-backed emergency loan schemes to make them work quicker, better and more inclusively:

  1. The Treasury should explore every avenue to encourage more banks to become lenders of Government-backed emergency loans, especially the ethical banks popular amongst social entrepreneurs. If banks can’t take on new customers during lockdown periods when many businesses are being hit hardest, we need to extend the emergency loan scheme to more banks.
  2. The government should set-up a separate emergency loan/investment fund, or section out a specific ‘pot’ within the overall loan scheme, tailored to our sector, provided by lenders with sector-expertise.
  3. A central helpline should be set up to support social enterprises that are unable to communicate directly with banks to troubleshoot any issues. Reports of common issues and barriers should be reported to both government and the banking sector with a requirement to act on these.

The measures announced earlier this month to extend repayment periods for the loans shows that the government can still deliver improvements to the schemes and we hope they will take this opportunity to address the issue of access to financial support.

We’re committed to ensuring fair access to government support for all businesses, including social enterprises, many of which are currently missing out on vital emergency finance. Along with our partners, we will continue to push for action until these issues are resolved.

A boy shouting into a microphone

Have your say on the future development of our services

As we look to move into a new phase of growth we are keen to consult our stakeholders, in order to ensure our services address the evolving needs of the growing social enterprise sector.

We invite you to participate in our 2021 stakeholder survey to share your thoughts on our accreditation services, our role in the sector, and our future strategic direction.

The Data PlaceAs a thank you for your time, there is the option to be included in a prize draw* for a chance to win a free data consultation from The Data Place, worth £250. Whether you have questions about GDPR compliance, making your data more reliable, using open datasets to help with marketing or targeting your social impact, using databases or publishing your own data, The Data Place has friendly and practical expertise to help you. The online session will run for approximately 1 hour with up to 3 hours additional work to follow up as appropriate.

Please complete the survey below, or click this link to complete the survey in a new window.

Please note: the survey will close at midnight on Wednesday 31st March.


*The winner will be drawn at random from all complete survey responses after the survey closes.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Social Enterprise Mark CIC statement on Clarity & Co.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is aware of the situation where former social enterprise Clarity & Co. is alleged to owe £200,000 in unpaid wages. In response to recent news articles, we wanted to make a short statement to clarify our position on this matter.

Clarity & Co. previously held our Social Enterprise Mark accreditation, but their licence to hold the Mark was expired in April 2020 following the sale to Mr Marks, when it became apparent they no longer met our criteria and did not intend taking action to return to the required standard.

Organisations are permitted a short period of grace to remove all mentions of the Mark from their website and communications following such action. We have since consistently repeated our requests for our Mark to be removed and have received assurance that this is now being actioned. We note that the Clarity & Co. website is currently unavailable, so are unable to confirm this action has been taken at this time.

We are deeply troubled by the allegations surrounding Clarity & Co. and hope that the situation is resolved as quickly as possible for the staff involved. It is sad to lose one of the UK’s longest standing social enterprises, which, over the last 160 years, has provided valuable employment and training for vulnerable and disadvantaged workers.

This matter has raised the important point of how social enterprises which fall upon hard times can be supported to remain true to social enterprise principles, in the event of a transfer of ownership. It is our policy to allow any Mark holders who are identified as not meeting the standard a fair period of time to take action to address issues and return to the good practice the Social Enterprise Mark encapsulates, although failure to demonstrate what actions they have taken will result in their accreditation being revoked.

Our accreditations are designed to encourage the maintenance of social enterprise good practice and raise aspirations to achieve standards of best practice, whilst regularly scrutinising and recognising these standards are maintained.

We are committed to working with our partners, regulators, Government and other stakeholders to protect the integrity of the social enterprise sector.

New Economy Alliance logos

Lobbying government for improved access to financial support

In response to feedback on the difficulties experienced by many social enterprises in accessing Covid-19 financial support, we are working with our social economy partners to influence the government to ensure that these support packages are available to support social businesses through this crisis.

These businesses are playing a crucial role for our communities in this pandemic. They are easing the pressure on frontline health and care services by producing PPE, facilitating online education and training, providing mental health support, and much more. It is also clear that the pandemic will continue to affect us all for many more months and social entrepreneurs need to be equipped and supported to keep doing their important work for the long-term.

Last week, we sent a letter* to Minister John Glen (Economic Secretary to the Treasury), raising our concerns that many vital services are in danger of being lost unless access to emergency finance is improved.

Back in the autumn, we collected feedback from the social sector, which showed there were some fundamental gaps and challenges in accessing the vital financial support being offered by the government. In particular, we looked at how easy it was for social businesses to navigate the government emergency loan schemes – Bounce Back Loans (BBLs) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs).

The results of our survey, and consistent anecdotal evidence from social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses, showed us that there are two key obstacles blocking access to government-backed loans:

  1. Many ethical and social banks that social enterprises bank with do not provide Bounce Back Loans
  2. Social enterprises are not able to open new accounts with participating banks

The waiting times to open new accounts are being quoted as months rather than weeks, and some businesses are being turned away by the banks responsible for delivering these loans.

These delays are being further exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure for social enterprises, as many of these businesses have complex bank mandates and ‘out of the ordinary’ legal structures, which require special channels to process loans. A 12 week wait for a loan could be the difference between a business surviving or failing.

We have requested a meeting with John Glen and his team, to agree a way to remove these barriers to the much-needed government-backed loan schemes. We hope that by working together with the government, these two obstacles can be swiftly overcome.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey. Your time and answers have been very useful in helping us shape a supportive response, and we will continue to use them to advocate for a supportive political environment for social businesses.

 


*Letter signatories:

Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Locality
James Alcock, Chief Executive, Plunkett Foundation
Kirsty Cumming, Community Leisure UK
Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC
Colin Jess, Director, Social Enterprise Northern Ireland
Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK
Catherine Manning, Interim Chief Executive, Social Value UK
Rose Marley, Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK
Chris Martin, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Scotland
Mark Norbury, Chief Executive, UnLtd
Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre

2020

Social Enterprise Mark CIC 2020 review

As we start a new year, it’s our usual custom to share our reflections on the previous year and to look to what the year ahead may bring.

This year we have created the below short video to share our highlights from what was an incredibly challenging year for us all, as well as summarising our key priorities for 2021.

This year, we look forward to continuing to champion strong and credible standards for the social enterprise sector, both here in the UK and internationally.

If you have any questions, feedback, or would like to discuss how we can support you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

New Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board members

Social Enterprise Mark CIC strengthens its Board of Directors

We are delighted to announce we have appointed three new Non-Executive Directors to our Board, as we look to move into a new phase of growth.

With over ten years’ experience of providing clear and credible standards for the social enterprise sector, we are now looking to take the business to the next stage, by expanding our international licensing operations and increasing our portfolio of standards, which support social enterprises to become better businesses.

During the first UK lockdown back in April 2020, we identified online board recruitment platform NuRole, who were keen to help make a difference at such a difficult time for the sector. They worked hard to find high calibre candidates, with impressive results. The recruitment process led to the appointment of three new Directors, all bringing a wealth of valuable experience.

Matthew DoyleMatthew Doyle has a successful track record in the management of transformational change programmes for regulated and complex environments, and was the Managing Director of Pension Quality Mark from 2016 to 2018, during which time he was responsible for re-writing the standards that UK DC Pension schemes are assessed against, and re-designing the accreditation process. He is also an Adjunct Professor for Global Strategy, Risk Management and Leadership at the Cox School of Business at the Southern Methodist University in the US.

On his appointment, Matthew said: “I am excited to join the SEMCIC Board at this pivotal stage in their growth journey. I hope to bring my experience from both corporate and regulatory environments to support the company to start influencing the corporate Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) agendas, to encourage more businesses to incorporate social enterprises into their supply chains.”

Nita P WoodsNita P.Woods is a senior strategist, specialising in purpose-led strategy, corporate sustainability and small business entrepreneurship. She has worked with well-known brands, such as Barclays, Danone, Tetra Pak, and Unilever, to provide C-suite and Board level advisory services and develop corporate sustainability strategy with social purpose campaigns or ESG (environment, social and governance) reporting. She also advises the Advertising Standards Authority and the London Mayor; sitting on both the London Recovery Board and London Economic Action Partnership.

On her appointment, Nita said: “I am passionate about facilitating the growth of many more sustainable businesses and social enterprises, which can provide strategic solutions for the world’s environmental and social problems. I am looking forward to bringing my extensive experience in purpose-led strategy and business sustainability to supporting the SEMCIC team to take the business to the next phase in their growth plan.”

Russell LongmuirRussell Longmuir is an accomplished CEO and board advisor with a long career of leading teams and driving strategic and cultural change. He is currently the CEO of EFQM, a well established accreditation framework that helps companies improve their performance and ability to manage change and transformation. Russell began his career in the banking sector in London and New York before moving into Management Consultancy. He spent 20 years working as a Partner at PwC/IBM and KPMG before moving to EFQM in 2018. He has also held a number of Non-Executive positions in the UK, US and Australia.

On his appointment, Russell said: “I welcome the opportunity to share my experience of organisational transformation projects to support SEMCIC to achieve their ambitious growth plans. In particular, I hope that my experience in developing an international accreditation framework, which can be applied around the world via an assessment and training franchise model, will prove useful in helping SEMCIC to strategically expand their own operations on a global level.”

On welcoming the new Board members, Professor Linda Drew, Chair of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board said: “I’m delighted to announce we have strengthened our Board, with the appointment of three new Non-Executive Directors, each of whom share our values and bring a wealth of experience to help us drive the company forward as we embark on an ambitious growth trajectory. I’m really looking forward to working with the Board (and staff team) to create the next chapter in the SEMCIC story together.”

We also welcome a new employee representative to the Board – Rachel Fell is taking over from Richard Cobbett, who has completed his year’s tenure in the role.

We would like to extend our thanks to Ian Bretman, who has stepped down from the Board after seven years, although will continue to be involved as a Social Enterprise Mark Ambassador.

University of Westminster launches first industry-backed Social Enterprise MSc

To coincide with Social Enterprise Day (19th November), the University of Westminster has launched a new Social Enterprise MSc, which is the first course of its kind to gain official endorsement from the social enterprise sector.

We have been involved in the development of the course and facilitated a number of focus group sessions with sector representatives to inform the course content and structure. We are proud to endorse this course, which we believe will equip students with a practical toolset combining the theory, knowledge and skills to make a positive difference through social enterprise.

The course, which can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two, is designed for people with an interest in or already working within existing social enterprises, as well as social entrepreneurs, advisors, officials, and sector representatives. It offers an opportunity to gain a formal qualification, learning from other participants working in the sector and interacting with established social enterprises and their advocates.

Talking about the course, Course Director Dr Joy Tweed said:

Dr Joy TweedIf the pandemic has taught us anything it is that businesses need to adapt to the new normal. Consumers are looking for brands and organisations which are acting ethically, sustainably and empathetically in today’s unsettling world. And, whilst social enterprise isn’t a new concept, it’s certainly gathered momentum in recent years. Given its disruptive nature, it is an approach to business that is well-equipped to support the enormous challenges now facing our society. 

“Social enterprises have the power to deliver the changes now being demanded by society. Here at the University, we’re committed to supporting a wide range of Sustainable Development Goals. We are also committed to empowering people from disadvantaged backgrounds or minorities. Our Masters course is purposefully practical and ‘of the moment’. We don’t just teach you the theory and concepts surrounding social enterprise, but you’ll also develop the essential skills and abilities needed to lead, support or create sustainable social enterprises that not only deliver value to their customers and stakeholders, but also create a positive impact in the communities they seek to serve.”

Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said: “We are delighted to provide endorsement for Westminster Business School’s MSc Social Enterprise. During our 10-year track record in social enterprise accreditation, we have often been frustrated at the lack of clearly- focused social enterprise education. It’s great to see a Master’s course that combines academic rigour and practicality within a very engaging format. I hope that it will encourage a diversity of applications from people in all walks of life to develop the breadth of their knowledge in both setting up and working in an existing social enterprise.”

Click here to learn more about social enterprise at the University of Westminster.

Social Impact Ireland and Social Enterprise Mark CIC logos

New collaboration to pioneer social enterprise accreditation in Ireland

We are excited to announce a new partnership with Social Impact Ireland to introduce social enterprise accreditation in the Republic of Ireland.

We will be working in collaboration to enhance and grow the Irish social enterprise sector through the introduction of the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation standard, which enables social enterprises to gain recognition that will build their capabilities as competitive, sustainable businesses, dedicated to maximising social impact.

The team at Social Impact IrelandSocial Impact Ireland aims to separate and elevate social enterprise, by fully supporting individuals and enterprises to reach their full potential, impacting communities across all regions.

They provide valuable incubator programmes, workshops and events specifically designed to support and nurture social entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journeys; to connect them with the wider business community and to help them become viable and financially independent. They believe in the power and the potential of each individual to make a real difference that will benefit their community and beyond, and make a positive social impact.

Social Impact Ireland is now conducting a pilot project to support six social enterprises through the process of applying for accreditation from Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

Speaking about the partnership our Managing Director Lucy Findlay said: “We are really excited to be working with Social Impact Ireland to pioneer the Social Enterprise Mark in Ireland. The current worldwide health and economic crisis has shown that there is more of an appetite than ever for the formation of businesses that can evidence social impact as their raison d’etre. The Social Enterprise Mark proves those credentials in a world where actions must speak louder than words.”

Pauline Gannon

Pauline Gannon, Director of Social Purpose and Impact at Social Impact Ireland, said:

“We are incredibly privileged to work with Social Enterprise Mark CIC to bring their worldwide recognised Social Enterprise Mark to Ireland. A momentous moment in the history of the social enterprise sector here in Ireland and a turning point for all involved in the sector. Bringing recognition and credibility to those who work with impact at the heart of what they do.”

The Social Enterprise Mark was officially launched at online launch event on Social Enterprise Day (19th November).

A hand putting a coin into a blue piggy bank

Social sector submits proposals to Comprehensive Spending Review

Collection of company logosWorking with partners from across the social economy, we have written to the Chancellor to outline a number of proposals for the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, which will broadly decide Government spending for the next three years.

We believe the social sector will play a crucial role as the country faces a huge economic and social challenge in recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We need to level up the country to close the gap between parts of our nation. To do this, we are going to need a mixture of public investment, better public services and a strong economy. Social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses have a strong track record in all three areas:

  • Their legal structures encourage reinvestment into the areas that they work in, boosting capital in places which need it most
  • They bring innovation to the public sector through empowering staff, communities and entrepreneurs
  • They have a track record of creating new businesses and jobs in the toughest markets – performing better than many of their peers in the private sector

We have put forward four key proposals, which we believe can help get the UK back on its feet after the shock of Coronavirus:

  • Trade to Recovery – a match trading scheme to support social enterprises through difficult COVID trading conditions
  • Social Enterprise Fightback Fund – a programme to help a new wave of start ups which have emerged during the COVID crisis
  • Project Restart – a fund to support the communities take over failing businesses and turn them around as social enterprises, cooperatives and community businesses
  • Community Entrepreneurship Zones (CEZs) – a place-based initiative to help groups of social entrepreneurs within local communities

Click here to view the full submission.

 

Neon sign in a recording studio that says 'Recording'

Social enterprise webinar series

Is Social Enterprise a legal structure? What model can you adopt? How do you finance a purpose-driven business?

These are questions we will explore in an upcoming webinar series with Sara Osterholzer of the Good Business Club. Join us at these free online sessions to gain more clarity on the social enterprise business model and get insights on what it’s like in practice running a social enterprise.

You can find out more and book your place on the individual sessions below:

To give you a taste of what to expect, you can catch up the Introduction to Social Enterprise webinar we record:

Graphic of two hands shaking, with text announcing a partnership between Social Enterprise Mark CIC and C3

New partnership to bring social enterprise accreditation to Middle East

C3 logoWe are delighted to announce a new partnership with UAE-based social enterprise Companies Creating Change (C3), who will act as our official representative to expand social enterprise accreditation in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) region.

With a ten year track record in providing social enterprise accreditation, we have developed an international assessment process that can be applied anywhere in the world. C3 was our pilot international applicant and became the first organisation outside the UK to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in April 2015.

The Social Enterprise Mark now has a presence in 10 different countries and we are now looking to expand our reach within the MENAT region, where there is an interest from both governments and investors in implementing a robust system for recognising genuine social enterprises.

As our representative for the MENAT region, C3 will use their local knowledge to conduct outreach programmes for potential applicants and provide support to organisations that wish to meet the requirements of the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation. From their own experience of applying for the Social Enterprise Mark, C3 can provide legal advice on how to navigate the regulatory environment of countries in the MENAT region as well as technical support with the application process to the Social Enterprise Mark.

Medea Nocentini

Commenting on the partnership, Medea Nocentini, Co-Founder of C3 said:Since it’s creation in 2012, C3 has supported more than 500 social entrepreneurs in MENAT, while engaging a community of more than 2,000 experts and investors.

C3 runs programs that accelerate social innovation and social impact: the ‘Change Journey’ starts from identifying a disruptive business solution to a pressing global challenge, to achieving business growth and measuring social and environmental impact. This mirrors the accreditation pathway that has been developed by SEMCIC, which supports social enterprises of all sizes and at all stages to achieve recognised standards of good practice and excellence.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director at Social Enterprise Mark CIC added: “We are delighted to be developing this partnership with C3, our longest standing international Social Enterprise Mark holder.

A female-led social enterprise, C3 has a great track record of working in UAE and the MENAT region and is familiar with the challenges and opportunities of working in this environment. They also have a clear understanding of social enterprises and the journey from pre-startup stage to financial sustainability and proven social impact, and so are well placed to support others on that journey.”

Coins in a glass jar and three stacks of coins on a table in front on a blurred green background

Your experience of applying for emergency loan finance

Through our recent work with partners across the social sector, it has become clear that many social enterprises have experienced challenges when applying for government loans via mainstream banks. In particular, Bounce Back Loans (BBLs), which are designed to be accessed easy and self-certified, have proved difficult to access for social enterprises.

We are working collectively with our partners and UK Finance (the banking trade association) to try and resolve these issues.  If you have been trying to access emergency loan finance as a result of Covid-19 business interruption, we would appreciate you sharing your feedback via the below survey.

Responses will be used as evidence to strengthen our case to government and UK Finance.

 

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As we emerge from this crisis, now is the time to Build Back Better; sign the statement

Join the call to #BuildBackBetter

New research from the New Economics Foundation has showed that only 6% of the UK public want to return to the same type of economy as before the coronavirus outbreak, with almost 1/3 of those polled said they want to see big changes in the way the economy is run. It is clear that now is the time to Build Back Better.

We are proud to support the #BuildBackBetter statement, alongside over 350 other organisations, from civil society, mainstream businesses, trade unions and academia. The statement calls for an economic recovery that:

  • provides high quality public services
  • tackles inequality
  • creates good jobs
  • reduces the risk of future pandemics and climate emergencies

Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation, said: “The crisis has revealed a number of harsh truths – that our health and social care services had been under-resourced, and that longstanding inequalities have left too many people vulnerable. But we have seen what can be achieved when we are faced with a crisis – government can spend wisely, at speed and at scale.”

We encourage you to add your backing to this campaign by signing the statement and sharing widely using the #BuildBackBetter hashtag.

 

National Employability Day banner; a day to celebrate the employability sector

How social enterprises provide vital employment support

Today is National Employability Day; an opportunity for employment support organisations and employers to celebrate their hard work supporting people to enter or progress in employment.

The theme this year is ‘Business as Usual’, which  highlights the vital role that employment support organisations and employers will play in the unprecedented challenge we face in building economic recovery and getting Britain working again post-Covid.

Many social enterprises support those furthest from the labour market to access meaningful employment. Collectively, the UK’s 100,000 social enterprises employ over 2million people, with 40,000 of these specifically seeking to employ people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those with disabilities, homeless people and veterans.

We have shared some examples below to illustrate the significant impact social enterprises have in terms of job creation, employment support, and providing training and development opportunities.

Evenbreak

Evenbreak logoEvenbreak is a specialist job board, which connects inclusive employers with talented disabled candidates.

The employers who advertise on Evenbreak are actively aiming to attract disabled candidates and the platform enables disabled jobseekers to access a range of opportunities with employers who put talent first.

Evenbreak is run by disabled people for disabled people – all of the team are disabled and have lived experience of the challenges faced by candidates.


Jericho Foundation

Jericho Foundation logoJericho Foundation was established in 1993 to help support local people in finding employment. It now operates eight social enterprise businesses across Birmingham, through which it provides employment and training for marginalised individuals.

They work with people who experience significant personal or occupational barriers to employment, training or social inclusion and help them overcome these obstacles and gain relevant vocational skills to secure sustainable employment.

Image of an open window looking into a shed building


Yateley Industries

Yateley Industries logoYateley Industries  operates one of the few remaining supported factories, which helps vulnerable adults to do paid meaningful work and training intended to help progress them into mainstream employment.

The factory is operated on a commercial basis, providing customers with specialised packing facilities, which includes machine shrink wrapping, boxing and bar coding. They also undertake light assembly and hand packing work.

Their aim is to encourage each individual to fulfill their own potential, both at work and at home. This is achieved by providing paid, meaningful employment alongside assisted accommodation (where desirable/required). Employees are supported towork towards identified goals, encompassing areas such as financial management, independent living skills, production output and social integration.

Photo of a man sat at a desk sorting through paperwork

Text over a map of the UK saying "We have called on the PM to create a green recovery that is just for all"

Business leaders call on PM to Build Back Better in recovery from Covid-19

Richard Curtis CBE, Paul Polman, Michael Izza and leaders of more than 100 renowned companies, charities, universities, and trade associations have called on the UK Government to ensure the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of UK Covid-19 recovery plans.

A letter has been sent to the Prime Minister today (Tuesday 9th June), which references a statement made by the Prime Minister at the Financing for Development event on 28th May, where he called for “fairer, greener and more resilient global economy” after Covid-19. He said that we must “work together to get shared goals back on track including […] the Sustainable Development Goals”.

UKSSD logoThe letter, coordinated by the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and the United Nations Global Compact Network UK (GCN UK), supports this and states ‘we do not need to reinvent frameworks or agreements, we can instead use the global goals as the basis for a socially just and green recovery in the UK and abroad’.

Early evidence from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission showed that, if implemented, the SDGs create at least US$12trillion in business opportunities in just 60 market hotspots and estimates this could be 2-3 times bigger across the whole economy.

The letter states that the ‘SDGs provide an internationally agreed framework, which also works at national, regional and local level, alongside and reinforcing existing plans and commitments.’ It asks that the SDGs be used ‘to consolidate and future-proof [recovery] plans’ and goes on to recommend that they are used to:

  1. Prioritise the most vulnerable in our society and level-up regional and societal inequalities
  2. Build coherent policies for a healthy planet and to aid the transition to net zero
  3. Unite all sectors behind a plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy

Emily Auckland, Network Director, UKSSD said:

“Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on inequalities in our society. We have an opportunity to make sure our recovery from this crisis is fair and just so that people and places across the UK can prosper. This does not have to be in conflict with our net zero carbon ambitions and the SDGs help us work together to create social and environmental outcomes, so all people have a happy life on a healthy planet”.

The SDGs are part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and give a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. There are 17 Goals at its centre, encompassing climate action, education and health.

Unfortunately, the UKSSD Measuring Up report, found gaps in policy or inadequate performance for 57% of targets, and 15% where there is little to no policy in place to address it, or where performance is poor. It anticipates that this situation will be worsened by the societal and economic impacts of Covid-19.

 

Hand with coins

Monthly payment plan available from just £15/month

In an effort to ease immediate cashflow pressures on social enterprises, we are pleased to offer monthly payment plans for our Aspiring Social Enterprise and Social Enterprise Mark accreditations.

For those who wish to spread the cost of the annual licence fee, it is possible to pay the annual licence fee in monthly instalments, just £15/month for Aspiring Social Enterprises and from £25/month for the Social Enterprise Mark.

This option is available to existing and new customers – please get in touch if you would like to set up a direct debit for your annual licence fee.

White and orange circles on a yellow background

Vacancies – Non-Executive Directors

As we look to embark on an ambitious growth trajectory, we are currently recruiting two new board members to help move the business forward and reach new markets.

We are specifically looking for candidates with expertise in:

  • Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategic leadership, and corporate relations; OR
  • Franchising and licensing management, and international expansion

Nurole is leading the search for the appointment of these roles:

For full details and to apply, please email Grace Thomas at Nurole. The deadline for applications for both roles is 30th June.

These roles are unremunerated, but reasonable and pre-agreed domestic travel expenses will be covered. The term of appointment is three years.

Click here to view profiles of the existing board members.

White graphic of two hands holding a £ sign, on top of a blurred image of a banknote

Social enterprise leaders welcome additional government financial support

Together with our partners from across the social economy, we welcome the recent Government announcement  that £85million is being released in a significant step towards saving the sector, in response to our recent sector campaigning for urgent intervention.

Over 1,000 businesses, including The Co-operative Group, have signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, urging him to act to protect the UK’s social enterprises. Research shows that, without action, half of the sector could run out of money by June – putting one million jobs at risk, including many held by society’s most vulnerable people.

At the daily briefing on 20th May, Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced that the Government will be unlocking £150million from dormant bank and building society accounts to help charities, social enterprises and vulnerable individuals during the coronavirus outbreak.

This includes:

  • £45million to allow better access to investment, including emergency loans for charities, social enterprises facing cash-flow problems and disruption to their trading following the coronavirus outbreak
  • £30million for blended finance packages through the Access Foundation, to support social enterprises helping people in vulnerable circumstances, up to £10million of which will be made available for emergency support through social lenders.
  • £10million to help organisations which support unemployed, disadvantaged young people into work. The Emergency Levelling Up Youth Fund will support young people from the hardest hit communities and the existing Development and Impact grants programme will be expanded to rapidly increase youth employment provisions.

Social enterprises are the first responders to hard-hit communities recovering, pivoting to deliver the most urgent social need at this timeThis announcement comes just in time to support  these organisations, and will make a huge difference to those who receive it. However, there is more still to do to deliver the full package needed to ensure the UK’s most valuable organisations survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with our partners, we have outlined four clear policies that are the quickest and most effective ways to save the sector, and we continue to push for their delivery. 

Commenting on the announcement, Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said:

“We are pleased to see that our collective efforts and campaigning as a social enterprise sector are at last being rewarded. It’s great that the government has listened, and we now have some finance measures that will help social enterprises survive and do what they do best – helping to build back a better economy and society for the future.

“We see this as the first step in the Government recognising the vital importance of supporting the sector to survive this crisis.”

Mark Norbury, Chief Executive of UnLtd said:  We are pleased to see the government recognising the crucial role that social entrepreneurs play in sustaining our communities. This financial package is a welcome move to boost a sector that contributes £60bn to the UK economy and works for and by the most vulnerable in society. There is still more to needed to ensure social entrepreneurs are able to make it through this pandemic and we look forward to further steps from the Chancellor. 

To find out more about the measures announced, visit the Gov.UK website.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Calling on Government to protect jobs for vulnerable workers

We have joined other national business networks to call on the Government to adopt a more nuanced approach to protect vulnerable workers from the effects of the current crisis.

The Chancellor announced last week that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (aka furlough scheme) would be extended to October, but confirmed that employers may be asked to make more of a contribution from August.

A blanket approach to the withdrawal of this support could trigger widespread job losses for firms with higher numbers of vulnerable staff, many of whom are among the 2.5 million people who have been told by the Government to shield from Coronavirus. As businesses move towards resuming operations, these businesses will struggle to return to full capacity as their staff will need to maintain shielding to safeguard their own health.

Businesses which specialise in employing vulnerable workers, such as supported businesses, social enterprises and social firms, are at potential risk of closure unless there is flexibility in the furlough scheme to avoid the risk of redundancies for the most vulnerable people in society. If these specialised businesses are lost, their employees and thousands of future employees will struggle to re-enter employment, at a considerable long-term cost to the taxpayer.

We have written a joint letter to the Chancellor, asking the Government to consider implementing a tapering of arrangements to ensure that employment is protected wherever possible for vulnerable workers.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said:

“It has become clear that vulnerable people have been the most affected by Covid-19. We need the Chancellor to make a more nuanced approach to the end of the furlough scheme, in order to protect the most vulnerable in society from the ravages of this disease and further marginalisation and disadvantage.

“We were pleased to see the Guardian cover this story and encourage others to share this widely to put pressure on the Government to provide additional support for the most vulnerable workers.”

Lucy Findlay presenting Sam Peplow of Yateley Industries with the Social Enterprise Disability Employment MarkSam Peplow, CEO, Yateley Industries – a registered charity and supported business providing employment and accommodation for people with disabilities, said:

“We are doing our best to get through this unprecedented crisis and government must be sensitive to the fact that not every business or employee is the same. What we don’t want to see is our most vulnerable workers being put out of work because they were overlooked.

Small changes to the Job Retention Scheme will help businesses like mine get through to the other side so that we can keep disabled people in work with all the benefits to health, wellbeing and society that come from that.”

Lifesaver ring

Calling on Government to #SaveOurSocents

We are working with partners in the social economy to call on the Government to make some small changes to the way it is currently distributing business support, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the UK’s 100,000 social enterprises, co-operatives and community businesses.

We realise that many social enterprises have been falling through the cracks of Government support and are unable to access the necessary grants and loans to keep their businesses afloat. We are urging the Government to act now to ensure social enterprises are supported to get through this crisis, which we believe will increase the chance of a quick, fair and inclusive recovery from this lockdown.

We have written a letter to the Chancellor to outline a four-point action plan to ensure social enterprises receive appropriate support:

  1. Extending existing business grants to include social enterprises;
  2. Changing the delivery of loan finance to work for social enterprises;
  3. Opening up emergency financing for public services to social enterprises delivering services on behalf of the state;
  4. Providing business support so that social enterprises can use any funds they do receive effectively to transition their business.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said “Social enterprises are part of the glue that holds our society together. They will now be needed more than ever to help rebuild a more resilient economy moving forwards. To not invest in them now risks huge holes in getting back to normal and will leave the most vulnerable without the support that they so desperately need.

How you can help

We are calling on our network and the wider social enterprise community to back our call to the Government for urgent support. Please complete the below short form to add your support to our letter to the Chancellor.

 

Click here to open the form in a new window.

Health Devolution Commission

Sharing social enterprise perspectives with the Health Devolution Commission

We are pleased to be supporting the Health Devolution Commission; a piece of thought leadership work in which five former health ministers (along with other senior figures from the health and social care world) are holding an independent cross party inquiry into the value and accountability of devolved health systems.

Health devolution is seen as one approach to place-based health service reform that has the potential to integrate not just disparate services within the NHS, and NHS and social care services in a locality, but to bring together in a combined strategy and structure all of the services and systems within a community that have an impact upon the health of a local population. Therefore, it may provide the means to better meet their health and care needs.

To support the engagement of social enterprise providers in the Commission, we are facilitating opportunities for our social enterprise network to share evidence. We hosted an online discussion group, which provided useful and interesting insights:

  1. Social enterprises (SEs) have freedoms and flexibility that statutory providers don’t, so they can be more agile and responsive to local needs in devolved areas. This feature is vital to the success of health devolution so SEs need to be fully engaged as partners in devolved structures. At present SEs are not even at the table – to their own detriment but also to the detriment of health devolution itself.
  2. The process of health devolution should include design principles of co-production and co-design in the shaping of the devolved system. This includes providers collaborating together to deliver better services locally; and commissioners avoiding using their devolved freedoms and powers to unnecessarily create new organisations and thereby undermining existing social enterprise providers.
  3. Health devolution must embrace community health improvement, particularly improving housing quality, which can be a major driver of physical ill-health and lead to mental ill-health as well.
  4. There is a chasm at national and local levels between health policy and strategies on the one hand and economic development policy and strategy on the other hand. The social enterprise organisational form embraces organisations in both spheres, so SE networks could play a useful role in promoting a ‘health and prosperity’ way of thinking to move forward from the existing siloed ‘treatment’ and ‘integration’ paradigms hat currently underpin most health thinking.
  5. The post Covid-19 exit strategy needs to avoid a ‘return to normal’ approach, and take it as an opportunity to re-shape policy and strategy around the ‘health and prosperity’ paradigm that could be delivered in part through the implementation of a comprehensive approach to health devolution.

Thanks to those who took part in the focus group. Further contributions are welcomed by the Commission – you can find out more and share your views at https://healthdevolution.org.uk/our-work.

Question mark

How can we support you?

We realise this is an extremely challenging and uncertain time for individuals, businesses and society in general. We are here to support our network and the wider social enterprise community in any way we can during this difficult time.

To enable us to focus on how we can best support you, we have created a short two question poll to better understand how the current crisis is affecting social enterprises.

We would appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes to share your thoughts.

powered by Typeform

Click here to open the poll in a new window.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC partnership with Ethical Angel

New partnership to provide virtual support to social enterprises

In response to the current coronavirus outbreak, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Ethical Angel, which will harness tech and people-power to provide free, virtual support to social enterprises during the coronavirus crisis (and beyond).

Ethical Angel logoEthical Angel, an employee engagement engine, can virtually match the skills and resources of the private sector with the operational needs of social enterprises, many of which are directly supporting vulnerable communities most affected by coronavirus.

The platform uses sophisticated technology to break down the broad needs of social enterprises into actionable projects that they then automatically match with the perfect person in their large community of business members. This means, that, without cost, social enterprises can very quickly and easily get what they need, when they need it.

“We often get asked what causes can ask for, the truth is anything that can be delivered by people-power. For example, brand guidelines, data-screening, GDPR policy templates, feedback on websites or sentiment mapping for customers. Just tell us what your need is and we will help break it down for you.” says Alexander Fahie, CEO of Ethical Angel.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC has partnered with Ethical Angel to ensure that more social enterprises are aware of the resources available to them during this challenging time.

Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark said: “Online platforms have become even more important in helping businesses at this difficult time. We are pleased to be partnering with Ethical Angel to encourage our network of accredited social enterprises to utilise this opportunity to connect them with a whole range of corporate talent for free. This can support them to achieve their goal to make a positive difference.”

Social enterprises can find out more and register on the Ethical Angel website.

RSA logo

Fast track RSA membership for accredited social enterprises

The RSA is offering all social enterprises currently accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC a fast track membership to become RSA Fellows. Social Enterprise Mark CIC’s partnership with the RSA has been created to foster collaboration between our two networks and bring about a future in which everyone is able to participate.

For 260 years, the RSA has been at the forefront of social change. Today, it is a community of over 30,000 proactive problem-solvers from around the world uniting people and ideas to resolve the challenges of our time.

Being a Fellow is about supporting the mission of the RSA, but also gives you access to several opportunities that help you connect with like-minded people. You can find out more about how to get involved as a Fellow here, but some highlights include:

  • RSA Events: all events are completely free to Fellows.
  • RSA Research: access the RSA’s current research projects, such as the Future of Work Centre.
  • Project Support: the RSA regularly supports Fellows and their projects through Catalyst grants.
  • RSA Get Involved: there are a huge number of ways for Fellows to get involved with the RSA.
  • RSA Coffeehouse: a number of spaces are available to hire at RSA House.

Join the RSA

Joining is simple: all you need to do is complete a short application form and answer three questions about why you would like to join the RSA.

For social enterprises that are accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC, the £75 registration fee is waived and there is no need to submit referee details.

Please get in touch with Joseph Menezes if you would like to join the RSA and help create a better future for all.

Neon open sign

Reaching out to our network

Given the current situation, we wanted to reach out to our network to remind you that we are here to help in any way we can.

First and foremost, we hope you and your families, friends and colleagues are all safe and well during this difficult time.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC team

Acting on the latest government advice, we have now implemented remote working, but we remain very much open for business and all of our team are still available as usual via email.

You can also speak with us via our helpline – 0345 504 6536.

As we all adjust to this new way of working (and in our wider lives), we are aware this can lead to feelings of isolation. We want you to feel as much a part of our network as ever, and encourage you to engage with us during these turbulent time (and beyond).

Here are some ways you can stay connected:

Social media

You can keep up to date with news and developments via our social media channels, which we will be keeping regularly updated:

Twitter logoFacebook logoLinked In logo

 

 

You can also join our Linked In discussion group to connect with other social enterprises. We encourage you to use this as a peer support platform, to share your concerns and issues you are facing, as well as supporting each other.

Newsletters

Poster saying 'good news is coming'We will continue to send our weekly news bulletins, which contain updates from our international network of accredited social enterprises.

Don’t forget to let us know if you have any news that you would like to share… perhaps you are able to offer advice/support to other social enterprises during this time…?

Information and advice

We realise that many people will be implementing remote working for their teams, possibly for the first time. Advice and guidance on remote working can be found on the below links:

Up to date information and advice on what to do during this time can be found on the below links:

You can also stay up to date with government and NHS advice on the below links:

Whilst we are doing all we can to keep our staff safe,we also want to ensure that as a network we remain connected during this difficult time, and provide support to each other where possible.

Stay safe and well, and if there is anything you need from us during this difficult time, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Linda Drew

New Chair for Social Enterprise Mark CIC

We are excited to welcome Professor Linda Drew as the new Chair of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board of Directors.

Linda is a creative education champion with experience as a board member and trustee in higher education and the creative industries.

She takes over the role from Ian Middleton, who has been Chair for the last six years. We will miss Ian and thank him for all his support in taking the company to where we are today.

Ian officially handed over to Linda at our recent 10 year anniversary celebration event in London.

Linda DrewOn starting her new role, Linda said: “I’m excited to be taking on the role of Chair at the Social Enterprise Mark at such an important time for the business.

I’m energised by the recent 10 year anniversary celebrations in London and pledge to offer support and challenge to the board and the team to go the extra mile in achieving business development with social impact with aspiring and existing Mark holders. What really excites me is working with great people towards great goals, and continuing to innovate in order to get there together.”

Click here to find out more about our Board.

Ten years of the Social Enterprise Mark

Celebrating a decade of providing credible standards for social enterprise

Today (1st February) marks ten years since the national launch of the Social Enterprise Mark.

We are so excited to reach this milestone and are proud of what we have achieved during this time – the Mark has evolved from a regional, funded project to now being the only internationally recognised standard of good practice in social enterprise.

To mark this anniversary, we have created the below timeline, which highlights the key stages in our journey over the last decade.

 

 

Social Enterprise Mark CIC timeline

Two hands holding mobile phones showing the CoGo app

Social Enterprise Mark incorporated into CoGo impact framework

CoGo logoWe are excited to announce the Social Enterprise Mark is now included in the impact framework for the CoGo app, which makes it easy for consumers to find businesses that do good for people and the planet.

The app lists only organisations that have met the requirements of one or more ‘badges’, which reflect sustainable practices in business operations and products that respect people, the planet and animals. To achieve each badge, an organisation needs to provide evidence that they have committed to sustainable practices within their operation and/or that they’re offering sustainable products to consumers. Each badge has specific standards that must be complied with and businesses are reviewed every two years to ensure ongoing compliance.

To ensure credibility and transparency, CoGo incorporates independent certifications, standards and NGO programme ratings into its badge standards, including the Fairtrade Mark, Marine Stewardship Council, Soil Association, Living Wage Foundation, and now Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

CoGo social enterprise operational badgeGenuine social enterprises that are accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC can now automatically achieve the Social Enterprise badge on the CoGo app.

Ben Gleisner, CEO of CoGo said: “We’re so pleased to welcome Social Enterprise Mark CIC (SEMCIC) to our accreditation framework here at CoGo. We are thrilled to be further supporting businesses accredited by SEMCIC, which are waving the flag for purpose before profit and can thus be awarded this badge.

Like us, they are dedicated to paving the way for a better world for both people and the planet and we can’t wait to further support their crucial work by listing more of the organisation’s wonderful businesses on the app and thus helping consumers to put their money where their heart is. Let’s CoGo.”

To find out more about CoGo, watch the below video. You can download the app here.

Students working at a desk

Influence the design of new postgraduate course in social enterprise

University of Westminster logoWe are excited to be supporting the University of Westminster as they develop new postgraduate courses specifically for the social enterprise sector. These courses will  be aimed at current staff of social enterprises as well as those looking to work in the sector.

The University value the input of the sector and invite you to join them at one of the events below to influence the development/design of the course to ensure it meets market needs:

  • Tuesday 28th January in London – A round-table event hosted by the University and Social Enterprise Mark CIC , sharing news from the sector and looking at the future requirements  in terms of skills and capabilities of the workforce. This event is aimed at Senior Leaders within the Social Enterprise sector and will be held at one of the central London campuses of University of Westminster, beginning with lunch at midday and running until 2.30pm.
  • Wednesday 12th February in Plymouth – a focus group hosted by Social Enterprise Mark CIC and University of Westminster to test out the ideas collected from the January event in terms of possible course content and to gain further feedback. All those who have an interest are invited to attend. The event will be held at Millfields Trust in Plymouth, beginning with lunch at midday and running until 2.30pm.

We hope you may be able to attend one of these events and look forward to seeing you there.

If you are unable to attend but have thoughts you would like to feed into the development process, please do get in touch.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board members

Welcome to new Board members

We are pleased to welcome two new members to our Board of Directors.

Professor Linda DrewProfessor Linda Drew is a creative education champion with experience as a board member and trustee in higher education and the creative industries.

Linda said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Board of Directors of Social Enterprise Mark CIC. I know the excellent work the team does, across the UK and internationally. My own experience as a leader in Higher Education confirms that people and society benefit from social enterprises.

Many universities now recognise this in their employability strategies and contribute to developing the diverse talent pool which energises the social enterprise sector. I’m looking forward to helping Lucy and the SEMCIC team to achieve their ambitious future goals with the Mark in Higher Education and other sectors.” 

We are also excited to welcome our first employee representative to the Board.

Richard CobbettRichard Cobbett has worked for Social Enterprise Mark CIC since the very early days and is responsible for the assessment and accreditation process.

Richard said: “I believe it is good practice for a social enterprise to actively engage with its stakeholders – including employees – at all levels, and where possible involve them in top level decision-making structures.

I have worked for the Social Enterprise Mark CIC since its first year and am pleased to take up the inaugural position of employee representative on the Board.”

Click here to find out more about our Board.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board members

Building Social Value logo

Social value support package for social enterprises

Organisations with a well communicated social purpose build stronger relationships – with employees, clients, funders and investors, suppliers and the wider community alike. Building social value builds your bottom line.

Inspiring Women Changemakers logoWe are excited to be partnering with Inspiring Women Changemakers (IWC) to offer ten eligible UK-based social enterprises a package of support to identify, build and measure your social value – and then gain the accreditation to rubber stamp your commitment to recognised standards of good practice.

From just £300* you can access the Building Social Value programme to help you identify, build & measure your social value, plus a one hour coaching call, as well as the Aspiring Social Enterprise Mark or Social Enterprise Mark accreditation.*

Simply complete the form on the IWC website to submit your interest. This is a limited offer – there are only ten packages available, so be quick!

*Cost dependent on level of accreditation and size of company

**Subject to assessment against eligibility criteria

Hand with coins

Introduction of new lower fee tier

In our effort to provide a comprehensive pathway to support social enterprises of all sizes to meet recognised standards of good practice and excellence, we have introduced a new lower fee tier for smaller organisations.

Social enterprises with a turnover of under £100k will now pay just £250+VAT for the Social Enterprise Mark annual licence fee.

Through consultation with our Mark holders, we are aware that the previous entry point (£350+VAT) represented a barrier to some social enterprises with lower turnovers. We recognise that this standard of social enterprise good practice should be open to all who wish to prove their social enterprise credentials by submitting to the scrutiny of external assessment. We hope this move will encourage more smaller social enterprises to become accredited and demonstrate how they are meeting a clear set of standards.

For organisations that aren’t yet ready to apply for the Social Enterprise Mark, we have also introduced the Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation, which is available for a flat licence fee of £150+VAT.

To find out more about how the Social Enterprise Mark can benefit your business, register your interest – it only takes a few minutes.

Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation

Providing a pathway to social enterprise excellence

We are excited to introduce a new addition to our social enterprise accreditation portfolio.

The Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation will support new and aspiring social enterprises to get started on the pathway to good practice and excellence. Through this entry-level accreditation, aspiring social enterprises can access tailored support to achieve sector-agreed standards of good practice and excellence in social enterprise, represented by the Social Enterprise Mark and Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

Applicants can prove their commitment to social enterprise principles, and will be supported on their journey to becoming a fully accredited social enterprise, with an annual review of their progress towards achieving the Social Enterprise Mark.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC accreditation Marks

 

Lucy Findlay and Rebecca Dray signing Social Enterprise Mark franchise agreement

Social Enterprise Mark CIC breaks new ground with USA franchise

We are excited to announce we have signed a new franchise agreement to take our unique Social Enterprise Mark accreditation to the USA.

Society Profits logoThe agreement grants an exclusive licence to Society Profits for awarding the Social Enterprise Mark in the USA. The franchise will enable social enterprises within the USA to gain international recognition that they are operating as a genuine social enterprise, with a core motivation of creating social impact.

Lucy Findlay,  Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC met with Rebecca Dray, founding CEO of Society Profits at RSA House in London this week to sign the franchise contract.

“We are delighted to work with Rebecca and Society Profits on this new adventure for the Social Enterprise Mark CIC.” says Lucy Findlay.

“We hope that we can test and refine how our Mark works overseas, to a provide a model for the future. Rebecca really understands the benefits that accreditation can bring to social enterprises and we look forward to a fruitful partnership.”

On signing the agreement, Rebecca Dray said “I have known and admired the work of Social Enterprise Mark CIC for many years and I am excited to be bringing such a trusted name to the US social enterprise sector.” 

“We need transparent and trusted social enterprise sellers that can have greater impact in our communities to support those most in need. The Social Enterprise Mark will give us this strong foundation on which we can build supply chains for social minded corporations and individuals to buy with confidence.” 

During her visit to the UK, Rebecca will be spending time with the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team in Plymouth to receive full training on the accreditation process, which will include the assessment of the first test applications from social enterprises in the USA.

Following an increase in international interest in recent years, we have developed a proven assessment process that can be applied anywhere in the world. Organisations outside the UK to hold the Social Enterprise Mark include global Fairtrade certification body FLOCERT, social enterprise support agency C3 in the United Arab Emirates, and the Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP).

 

Map showing international Social Enterprise Mark holders

Luke Joy-Smith joins Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board

We are pleased to welcome Luke Joy-Smith to our Board of Directors.

Luke has worked within the Learning Disabilities field for over 25 years, both within the NHS and the Voluntary Sector. He is currently Managing Director of Discovery, a Social Enterprise Mark holder, which supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism across Somerset.

Luke has provided consultation work for Local Authorities, CCG’s and other third sector providers. He has a sound knowledge base of the social care sector in order to develop new ways of ensuring people with learning disabilities are given greater choice and control over their lives in order to be  active, engaged and valued citizens within their communities.

We are keen to have more stakeholder representation on our Board and look forward to Luke bringing a Mark holder perspective to discussions, as well as his extensive experience in the public and third sectors.

Click here to find out more about our Board.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC Board members

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Our response to the Social Value in Government Procurement consultation

We welcome the fact that the government is considering trying to use its buying power to increase social value. If this is to be achieved successfully it will not only be a better outcome for those that the contract delivers for, but it will also help to achieve wider societal and environmental benefits for all.

The government recently invited responses to proposals for how it should take account of social value in the award of central government contracts.

For our own response, we consulted with our network of accredited social enterprises – thanks to those who attended our focus group to share their thoughts and experiences of public sector procurement, which we fed into our final response.

Click here to view our full response to the consultation.

We look forward to hearing the Government response to the consultation in due course.

 

FamilyCarersNet named 2019 Making a Mark winners

Andy Lewis of FamilyCarersNet receiving the Making a Mark award from Besma WhayebFamilyCarersNet, a social enterprise providing vital support for unpaid carers, was announced as the winner of our 2019 Making a Mark competition at a special celebration at our conference in Birmingham earlier this week.

Besma Whayeb, a Year of Green Action Ambassador, presented the award to Andy Lewis of FamilyCarersNet during our annual awards reception. His colleague Simon had earlier spoken at a panel session looking at how social enterprises can achieve sustainable business growth without compromising their social mission.

Andy was presented with an award specially created for us by Social Enterprise Mark holder Start Creative *, a social enterprise which provides a range of high quality hand crafted products and services to public, private and social sectors, whilst providing positive commercial experiences to volunteers who are referred via mental health services.

Simon Brown, founder of FamilyCarersNet said: “It was quite a shock, there were many fantastic organisations shortlisted. It’s our first national award and really pleasing for everyone involved to gain recognition from others in our sector for the impact we have in supporting unpaid carers, both in Suffolk and across the UK.”

The annual Making a Mark competition celebrates how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable impact within their local communities and in wider society. This year, we asked Mark holders to submit their ‘Social Enterprise Story’, encapsulating who they are and the nature of the social impact they create – i.e. how they are ‘Making a Mark’.

We were really impressed with FamilyCarersNet’s video submission, which illustrated a sense of genuine stakeholder engagement in how their business is managed and delivered, and clearly demonstrated their purpose and explained how the help and benefits they deliver translate into social outcomes for beneficiaries.

Andy Lewis of FamilyCarersNet with the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team

Andy Lewis of FamilyCarersNet with the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team

FamilyCarersNet was shortlisted alongside five other organisations, including AUARA, who were Highly Commended. The shortlist was decided by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team, which also voted on the final result. We were really impressed with the quality of submissions, and would like to extend our congratulations to all of the competition finalists:

  • Making a Mark competition finalistsAUARA
  • Brighter Futures
  • FamilyCarersNet
  • Hope Enterprises
  • Millfields Trust
  • University of Northampton
Social Value UK

Partnership with Social Value UK

Social Value UK logoWe are proud to announce a new partnership with Social Value UK, the national network for social impact and social value.

Our mutual aim is to create a ‘coalition’ with a focus on furthering the practice of social accounting and accreditation as tools for reporting on social, environmental and economic performance.

This alliance hopes to raise the profile and quality of social value, which lies at the core of both organisations.

Social Value UK aims to change the way the world accounts for value. They work with their members to embed core principles for social value measurement and analysis, to refine and share practice, and to build a powerful movement of like-minded people to influence policy. Together, they are building a movement for change.

Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said:

“I’m really pleased that we are going to be working in closer partnership with Social Value UK.  Any alliance that aims to raise the profile and quality of social value is core to what we do. We look forward to closer working alongside our other key partners that share our values and vision of better business models.”

To find out more about Social Value UK visit their website.

Celebrating the impact of accredited social enterprises

Our Making a Mark competition is back for another year!

This annual competition for Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark holders celebrates and promotes the vast impact that accredited social enterprises make through their diverse activities, illustrating how social enterprises are creating considerable impact within their local communities and in wider society.

This year, we invited Mark holders to submit their #SocEntStory, using a medium of their choice, which helps encapsulate who they are and the nature of the social impact they create – i.e. how they are ‘Making a Mark’. We were overwhelmed with the quality and variety of responses, and were left with a difficult job in shortlisting entries.

We are now delighted to announce the below shortlist:

  • Making a Mark competition finalistsAUARA
  • Brighter Futures
  • FamilyCarersNet
  • Hope Enterprises
  • Millfields Trust
  • University of Northampton

Entries were judged according to how engaging they were in describing what it means to be a genuine social enterprise, trading to deliver social benefit above that of personal profit.

Click here to view the entries from each of the finalists.

The winner will be announced at a special reception at our annual conference (in Birmingham) on 19th June.

 

 

Photo montage of disabled employees

New standard launched to recognise exemplar employers of disabled people

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is proud to launch a new standard for Supported Businesses and social enterprises that support disabled people to find and maintain meaningful employment.

Social Enterprise Disability Employment MarkThe Social Enterprise Disabilty Employment Mark (SEDEM) has been designed specifically for businesses whose primary objective is the employment of disabled people. It aims to provide assurance for commissioners/funding bodies and disabled people on the specialist supportive environment provided for employees with disabilities.

This new Mark, developed in partnership with the Supported Business sector and through discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP, builds on the experience and evidence of the government Disability Confident scheme, the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark accreditations, as well as the customs and practices of the Supported Business community as exemplar employers and businesses.

“We are really excited to announce the launch of our newest products. This marks a key milestone for us in our work with the Supported Business Steering Group, as well as DWP.” says Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

“We hope that this accreditation will become a yardstick for businesses that wish to prove their credentials in creating the most supportive environment for employing disabled people, as well as demonstrating their social value. We are particularly pleased to see take-up from some of the leaders in this field and hope that more will follow as we work with DWP and Steering Group to refine the details.”

The new Mark has been welcomed by the social enterprise and Supported Business sectors, as explained by Mark Norbury, CEO of social enterprise support body UnLtd:

“There are hundreds of social entrepreneurs out there recruiting and training talented and skilled disabled people. They serve as powerful role models for other businesses – particularly the SME sector which employs over 60% of our UK workforce.

“This new initiative will give deserved recognition to social enterprises, such as those backed by UnLtd and Scope, who are innovating to reduce the UK’s unfair and unaffordable disability employment gap. If this gap is to be closed completely, the UK will need to harness the proven potential of these inspiring social ventures to achieve change. Recognition through this new Mark is an important step in the right direction.”

Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark and Local Authority Disability Mark holders

The inaugural recipients of SEDEM, involved in the pilot phase for the new Mark, include one of the UK’s oldest social enterprises – CLARITY, and Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC).

Geoff Streetley, Managing Director of BBMC, said:

“As a socially-thriving, commercial enterprise now in its 100th year of providing crucial employment support to injured veterans and people with disabilities, we are immensely proud to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark.

“This mark is the recognition of our commitment to improve the lives of people in need of support, each and every day.”

Local Authority Disability Employment MarkFollowing the initial testing of SEDEM with a number of local authorities, the Local Authority Disability Employment Mark (LADEM) is also being introduced, to recognise the specific benefits of supported businesses that are embedded in Local Authorities.

To find out more about these new Marks and how to apply, please get in touch to speak to a member of our friendly team.

94% of respondents agreed the Social Enterprise Mark provides clear and credible standards for the social enterprise sector and defines what it means to be a genuine social enterprise

Social Enterprise Mark CIC 2019 Stakeholder Survey Report

Earlier this year, we conducted a comprehensive survey of our Mark Holders and other key stakeholders, to help shape the future direction of Social Enterprise Mark CIC and our growing portfolio of accreditation services. Many thanks to all those who took the time to participate in the survey.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC stakeholder survey report 2019We have now analysed the responses and are excited to share this summary report, which highlights the key findings from the survey and illustrates the impact that we have on the social enterprise sector.

The report contains headline findings and statistics, including:

  • Impact and influence of the Mark
  • Impact and influence of Social Enterprise Mark CIC
  • Benefits of accreditation
  • Key business needs for social enterprises

As a customer-focussed organisation, the feedback received is invaluable in helping us to develop robust and credible standards that meet the evolving needs of the expanding social enterprise sector. We will now use the findings to inform our strategic direction and future development of our services.

If you have any comments or questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Quote: "As a general indicator of credibility, there is no doubt that the Social Enterprise Mark contributes to the trust and confidence that our business/ contributing partners have in our organisation, and in their willingness to partner with us"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote: "Social Enterprise Mark CIC is championing social enterprise as a viable and effective alternative to for-profit business activity"

Devon & Conwall Venus Awards winners

2019 Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards winners announced

Nearly 300 guests, finalists and sponsors from across the South West, attended the Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner of the Devon & Cornwall 2019 Venus Awards, held at the St Mellion resort in Cornwall on 29th March.

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional, and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member. The roll call of nominees, finalists, winners and sponsors is a testament to the growing appeal of the Venus Awards in Devon & Cornwall.

Hosts for the evening’s inspiring celebrations were Tara Howard, founder of Venus Awards, and Alexis Bowater of Bowater Communications.

Every sponsor emphasised the outstanding calibre of their category Finalists when presenting the winner with their “Venus” trophy.

Finalists of Influential Woman category at 2019 Venus Awards

Dr Emily Beaumont of Plymouth Marjon University, Veryan Skinner of Folk2Folk , Lucy Findlay and Alison Jordan of Pete’s Dragons

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was delighted to receive the Influential Woman of the Year award.

“I’m amazed and delighted to win this award. The competition was really fierce and all the women shortlisted were so outstanding in their influencing talents too.

I would like to thank both Venus and Folk2Folk for this opportunity, which especially recognised the work that we have been doing internationally. It’s great for social enterprise to get recognition in a business award and that we can change the face of business on the world platform.”

The Venus Awards were founded in Dorset in 2009 by Tara Howard. Frustrated by the lack of recognition for working women, Tara established the awards to recognise and celebrate the achievements of working women. The event has since expanded to eight regions around the UK, with the 35th ceremony held at the inaugural London Awards at the Waldorf in December 2018.

 

 

2019 SE100 award winners

2019 NatWest SE100 index and Social Business Awards

Nearly 300 people gathered in central London this week to hear who had won the top spots in this year’s NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards.

Seven awards were made to social enterprises working in many different parts of the UK, from Cornwall to Scotland.  The winners were:

  • Growth – Creating Enterprise
  • Impact – ECT Charity
  • Trailblazing Newcomer – InHouse Records
  • Storyteller – Hubbub Enterprise
  • Investment – Resonance
  • Leadership – Fuad Muhamad, ACH
  • Resilience – P3

The Top 100 social enterprises from those who applied were also listed, in this year’s NatWest SE100 index, which represents the ‘top 100’ social enterprises from all applicants based on a variety of criteria, with points awarded based on the seven awards (growth, impact, leadership, etc). Social Enterprise Mark CIC is delighted to be included on the index.

Speaking at the event, the judges said they had been impressed with the quality of submissions. Neil McLean, CEO of the Social Enterprise Academy and one of the external judges, said: “In an era marked by the continual withdrawal of public resources and the need for greater international collaboration to tackle global issues, to learn of these initiatives being led by entrepreneurial leaders in social enterprise is inspiring and brings a much-needed optimism for the future.

It has been an absolute privilege and a pleasure to be a part of the panel judging the 2019 SE100 awards. The entries are testament to the principle that it is not just possible for both social and business causes to be served and thrive but it’s an absolute imperative that it does so.”

You can view the full SE100 index here.

Defra Year of Green Action Ambassadors

Michael Gove welcomes ambassadors for Year of Green Action

Defra Year of Green ActionEnvironment Secretary Michael Gove MP has welcomed a group of Ambassadors, who have pledged to champion and promote the Year of Green Action; a year-long drive to help everyone get involved in projects that support nature.

The Ambassadors include UN Patron of the Oceans and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh, environmentalist David de Rothschild, TV presenter Jan Leeming, and our own Lucy Findlay.

On welcoming the new Ambassadors at a parliamentary reception, Michael Gove said:

Michael Gove welcomes Year of Green Action Ambassadors“The natural world is our greatest asset and we all have a responsibility and role to play in protecting it for generations to come.

These new ambassadors have shown tremendous passion in their drive for environmental protection and have been tenacious in their desire to raise awareness…I am delighted to have them on board to champion the Year of Green Action and inspire change.”

The Year of Green Action is a year-long initiative to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the environment. It provides a focal point for organisations, individuals, communities and businesses to learn more about their environmental impact, take action to reduce it, and spread the word on environmental issues.

The newly-announced ambassadors are:

  • UN Patron of the Seas Lewis Pugh, an ocean advocate and endurance swimmer;
  • Adventurer and environmentalist David de Rothschild, who sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 2009 on a entirely recyclable boat made using 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles;
  • TV presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming, a keen supporter of environmental issues, who has also spent time working on cheetah conservation projects in South Africa;
  • Ethical lifestyle blogger Besma Whayeb;
  • Sian Conway, Green & Eco Influencer of the Year 2018;
  • Explorer, entomologist, zoologist and broadcaster George McGavin;
  • Professor Tim Jackson, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity;
  • Founded of Earth Changers sustainable travel company Vicky Smith;
  • Blogger and social influencer Izzy McLeod; and
  • Lucy Findlay MBE, Founder of Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh said:

“I have been swimming for 32 years and over that period of time, I’ve seen our oceans change completely. That’s why I am delighted to support the Year of Green Action and help share the importance of protecting our oceans and tackling plastic pollution.

We need urgent action. Our greatest hope is that there are 66 million people in the United Kingdom. Any problem, however colossal, becomes manageable when divided by 66 million. If we all play our part, we can fix this.

The Year of Green Action is a leading pledge from the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, an ambitious blueprint to improve the environment within a generation.

Since its launch in January, the government has outlined ambitious plans to overhaul the waste system and transform household recycling, pledged support for charity Step Up to Serve’s #iwillfornature campaign, and set out plans to protect some of the country’s rarest and most threatened fungi.

Venus Awards finalists 2019

Finalists announced for Devon & Cornwall 2019 Venus Awards

At a splendid cream tea hosted at Pentillie Castle on 8th February, more than 100 guests from the local business community gathered to celebrate the Devon & Cornwall 2019 Venus Awards finalists, who will be progressing to the next stage of these prestigious business awards.

Although in the 6th year, the number of applications continues to grow, making the finalist selection process harder than ever. “We received more than 1,300 nominations and applications for the 15 award categories, which highlights the huge contribution that women in business are making to businesses in the Devon & Cornwall Region.” said Venus Movement founder Tara Howard.

Launched in September, the participants have now been whittled down to the Finalists stage through a combination of sponsor panel and public judging.

Influential Woman Finalists Venus Awards 2019Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was delighted to be named as a finalist in the Influential Woman of the Year category, along with Dr Emily Beaumont of Social Enterprise Mark holder Plymouth Marjon University.

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional, and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member.

The Devon & Cornwall 2019 Venus Awards will culminate in a Glamorous Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on 29th March 2019 at St Mellion International Resort.

What's your story chalkboard

Share your #SocEntStory to enter our Making a Mark competition

Making a Mark competitionOver the last few years, we have held an annual ‘Making a Mark’ competition for Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark Holders, to help promote and celebrate the social impact they have.

In previous years, this has focused on the social impact evidence that Mark Holders are now required to complete as part of their regular assessment to continue to hold the Mark.

This year, we are taking a slightly different approach, one which we hope will encourage Mark Holders to reflect upon their social impact in a more creative way than they may commonly do so. We are therefore asking Mark Holders to provide their ‘Social Enterprise Story’.

We invite Mark Holders to submit entries, using whatever medium they choose, which help encapsulate who they are and the nature of the social impact they create – i.e. how they are ‘Making a Mark’. This could be:

  • a video;
  • a news post/press article;
  • a photo;
  • or even updated versions of the social impact statements you have submitted through a recent annual assessment

Whatever approach you chose (the list above is by no means exhaustive), all we ask is that it clearly illustrates how you are creating a positive impact on society. If using a visual format, please also provide a brief written explanation.

Entries will be judged according to how engaging they are in describing what it means to be a genuine social enterprise, trading to deliver social benefit above that of personal profit. Beyond this brief, there are no strict criteria that must be met, but when judging entries, consideration will be given to such elements as:

  • Is the social purpose and the nature of the social need being addressed clearly articulated?
  • What is said about the way in which the social enterprise operates (i.e. values, methods, investments)?
  • What is the scope and nature of social benefits being delivered? Who are the social beneficiaries?
  • How imaginative and creative is the presentation and in what ways does the presentation in itself reflect what the social enterprise has described about itself?

To enter, simply send across your ‘Social Enterprise Story’ to marketing@socialenterprisemark.org.uk by Friday 29th March.

We will select a shortlist from the entries, which will be showcased on our website and via social media in the run-up to our annual conference in June. The Social Enterprise Mark CIC team and independent Certification Panel will be tasked with judging the final entries, and the winner will be announced at an awards reception at the conference on 19th June.

If you have any questions or would like any additional guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Feedback chalkboard

Help us ensure our services meet the needs of the sector

As we enter our tenth year of providing clear and credible standards for the social enterprise sector, we are conducting a comprehensive stakeholder survey, to ensure our services address the evolving needs of the growing sector.

As a customer-focused organisation, we greatly value the input of our accredited social enterprises, partners, and other stakeholders, to inform the future development of our services.

Therefore, we would greatly appreciate you sparing some time to complete the survey, to provide feedback on your experience of the services we provide, and to have your say on the future direction of Social Enterprise Mark CIC and our accreditation services.

Make an Impact Heidi FisherAs a thank you for your time, we will enter you into a prize draw* for the chance to win a free introductory Social Impact Consultation with award-winning social enterprise specialist Heidi Fisher.

Please click this link to complete the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HKQQH7Q

*The winner will be drawn at random from all complete survey responses after the survey closes on 15th March 2019.

Create your own user feedback survey

9

Celebrating nine years of providing credible standards for social enterprise

Today (1st February) marks nine years since the national launch of the Social Enterprise Mark. We are proud of how far we have come since then – from what was a regional, funded project we now provide the only internationally available social enterprise accreditation.

To mark this anniversary, we have created the below timeline, which highlights the key stages in our journey so far.

Social-Enterprise-Mark-CIC-timeline-

Lucy Findlay and Martin Davies_SEDEM workshop at BASE conference 2018

New quality marks for Supported Businesses

Over the last year, we have been working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Supported Business Steering Group to develop two new quality marks for businesses that provide extra employment support for disabled people with the greatest barriers to work.

Social Enterprise Disability Employment MarkThe Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark (SEDEM) is an accreditation designed especially for supported businesses and social enterprises that have a focus on employing disabled people. It provides:

  • Assurance to commissioners and funding bodies
  • Assurance to disabled employees and job seekers/social enterprises
  • Recognition as exemplar employers and businesses
  • Access to commercial opportunities

SEDEM builds on the experience and evidence of Disability Confident, the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark accreditations, as well as the customs and practices of the Supported Business Community as exemplar employers and businesses.

The Local Authority Disability Employment Mark (LADEM) has been developed following the initial testing of SEDEM with a number of local authority supported businesses, where a different evidence is required to meet the necessary criteria as they cannot be classed as ‘independent social enterprises’.

We are now entering a pilot phase of applications for both SEDEM and LADEM, from existing Supported Businesses prior to launch in March 2019. Applications from other Social Enterprises will be taken later in 2019, details of which will be available soon.

 

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Vacancies – Board members

We are currently seeking new board members to help move the business forward and support the introduction of new services and growth in new markets.

The commercially focused board meetings are currently held in Plymouth every 3 months; whilst there is no financial remuneration for the role, expenses can be reimbursed if necessary. It is important that each board member has time and capacity to keep up with issues and input as necessary between board meetings. Board members are appointed for a 3-year period with an option of a further 3-year extension.

Click here to view profiles of the existing board members.

The current Chair is due to retire within 24 months and we are particularly keen to meet people who may be interested in the role of Chair when the position becomes available.

The successful person(s) is likely to possess:

1) Knowledge and expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • Leading and developing relationships within at least one of our key priority areas, i.e. health , local authority, disability employment and education

2) Experience:

  • Commercial and business development

3) Attributes:

  • Appetite for challenge and practical problem solving
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a passion for the Social Enterprise Mark

4) Skills:

  • Sound strategic commercial and financial acumen
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Problem solving abilities

For more information or to apply, please contact Ian Middleton.

Semi-Finalists announced for Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards

Last week, Plymouth Gin hosted 100 applicants, guests and sponsors at their venue, for the announcement of the names of those progressing to the Semi-Finalist stage of the 2019 Devon & Cornwall Venus Awards.

The eighty five successful Semi-Finalists will now go through to the next stage of the judging process, and the finalists will be announced on 8th February.  The Awards will culminate in a glamorous Ceremony and Gala Dinner on 29th March.

Venus Devon & Cornwall Awards semi-finalist badgeLucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC was shortlisted in the Influential Woman of the Year category, along with Dr Emily Beaumont of Social Enterprise Mark holder Plymouth Marjon University.

Lucy is delighted to be shortlisted for the awards again this year, after being a finalist in two categories in 2018. “The competition is fierce and it’s brilliant to be recognised as a semi-finalist in the Influential Woman category. The semi-finalists in this category all demonstrate that women are leading the way and making a difference at local, national and international levels!

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as The Working Womens Oscars – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member. To provide extra help for our nominees and other working women, the Venus movement has recently launched The Venus Business School, an exciting new initiative offering invaluable support for female entrepreneurs and working women in the areas of confidence, communication, leadership and stress/time management.

Venus Awards Devon & Cornwall is now in its 6th year, and the response remains consistently strong with more than 1,100 nominations and 340 applications. The Devon & Cornwall participants are competing in 15 categories, including Woman in Property/Construction, Small Business of the Year, Inspirational Woman in STEMM and Business Mother of the Year.

This year’s Charity Sponsors are the Devon Air Ambulance and Cornwall Air Ambulance  The aim of Devon Air Ambulance is to help save ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances: parents, partners, children. Nobody chooses to have an emergency, but thanks to the crucial support of the Devon community, they can be there when it matters most. Cornwall Air Ambulance flies more than 700 missions every year bringing vital emergency medical treatment in minutes to patients across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It does not receive any government support for these missions and relies on the generosity of its supporters.

Brand preview 2019

In a year of uncertainty,
it’s time for clarity

As we start a new year, there are undoubtedly both challenges and opportunities ahead for social enterprises. Whatever the next 12 months brings for the UK economy, it is likely to be influenced by factors beyond your control. What you can control is how you respond.

Jonathan AlderIn an atmosphere of confusion and doubt, the ability to communicate clearly will help you to stand out. Jonathan Alder of brand agency Alder and Alder has created a free brand preview for social enterprises, which shares insights into the factors that will be most influential in helping you to do that. The aim is to help you communicate more efficiently and more effectively, by focusing on what’s most important.

The preview takes a look at the year ahead and explores the key brand issues that social enterprises need to consider, and suggestions for how to respond to these.

Click here to download the Brand Preview 2019.

 

Lucy Findlay

Lucy Findlay awarded MBE for services to social enterprise

We are delighted to announce that our Managing Director Lucy Findlay has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list for ‘services to social enterprise’.

Lucy founded Social Enterprise Mark CIC in 2010 and over the last ten years has developed the Social Enterprise Mark from a regional funded project to an internationally available accreditation, which provides, for the first time, a clear standard and definition for the very broad social enterprise sector. She has played a major role in the development of the UK social enterprise sector over the past two decades and is thrilled to have received this recognition of her work.

“It’s a real honour to have this personal recognition and endorsement for my work in social enterprise” says Lucy Findlay. “I haven’t done it alone though. I would like to pay tribute to all my colleagues and friends who have stood by me and supported me over the years through both the highs and the lows of running a social enterprise.

It’s certainly an exciting start to 2019 for Social Enterprise Mark CIC.”

An MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is awarded by Her Majesty the Queen after an individual is nominated for their outstanding achievement or service to the community. An independent Honours Committee reviews the nomination application and makes the final award decision.

Christmas

Merry Christmas from Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Here we are again, fast approaching the end of another year… before everyone logs off, we wanted to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Please note that our office will be closed for the Christmas break from lunchtime on Friday 21st December until 08:30am on Wednesday 2nd January. We will respond to all messages as soon as possible on our return. We hope you all enjoy a peaceful break over the festive period.

Many thanks for your support this year, we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2019.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC team_Christmas 2018

MadeAtUni

We are supporting the
MadeAtUni campaign

Social enterprise universitiesWe are proud to accredit a number of UK universities as social enterprises, which are committed to enhancing the social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of their communities, society and the world around them.

We recognise the important contribution that universities can make to people, lives and communities across the UK, and therefore welcome the launch of the MadeAtUni campaign today, which celebrates the significant role that universities play in everyone’s day-to-day life.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “Alongside teaching, universities play a much wider role in being part of  local communities and making the world a better place. This is why we have awarded the Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark to those that can prove it.

We are pleased to support the MadeAtUni campaign, which will hopefully highlight the amazing and varied contribution that universities make to society.”

For the launch, Universities UK has compiled the UK’s Best Breakthroughs List, which highlights 100 examples of universities are improving lives and enriching our world. From pioneering health discoveries and technological innovations to environmental initiatives, community projects and contributions to art, culture and sport, the list brings to life the many ways universities are improving our everyday lives.

We are delighted that several of our Mark holder universities feature in the list:

To find out more about how universities are offering solutions to local, regional and global challenges, visit the MadeAtUni website.

Social Enterprise Gold Mark

New fee structure for Social Enterprise Gold Mark

Social Enterprise Gold Mark

In response to feedback from our network of accredited social enterprises, we have reviewed the fee structure for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark, with a view to reducing potential barriers to Social Enterprise Mark holders (and new applicants) in achieving this standard of social enterprise excellence.

Through consultation with our Mark holders, we are aware that the existing fees for the enhanced accreditation of the Gold Mark can represent a considerable obstacle for some smaller social enterprises, many of which would likely meet the criteria and pass the assessment. We have therefore worked to address this issue and are pleased to announce a reduction in the annual licence fee for the lower fee tiers (up to £15m turnover), in order to support small to medium social enterprises to continue on the pathway to social enterprise excellence.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, explains the reasoning behind the decision to review the fees: “We are pleased with the success of the Social Enterprise Gold Mark, particularly within the university sector. However, following feedback, we recognise that this valuable Mark of social enterprise excellence should be open to all, as far as possible, to enable some of our smaller clients to benefit from the higher level of accreditation and the support that the process offers.”

The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is a business development tool, which sets benchmarks and an action plan for continuous improvement, in line with best practice guidelines.

“I thought that the whole process was really constructive and we learnt a great deal about our organisation through compiling the application. Richard was very supportive and helpful and made the whole process a positive experience” said Caroline Barfoot, Head of Employability & Student Enterprise of Solent University, which achieved the Gold Mark earlier this year.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC exists to recognise and build the capabilities of social enterprises as competitive, sustainable businesses, which are dedicated to maximising social impact. Through our unique independently-assessed accreditations, we provide clear and credible standards for the social enterprise sector, which define what it means be a social enterprise. Through revising the fees for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark, we aim to open up this quality mark to a broader range of social enterprises and encourage more social enterprises to commit to continuous improvement in their business practices.

Click here to view the new fees. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, or if you are interested in applying for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

Living Wage Employer badge

It’s Living Wage Week 2018

Living Wage Week 2018

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, we are proud to support Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November), a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

The UK Living Wage rate has increased by 25p to £9, with the London Living Wage rising by 35p an hour to £10.55 an hour. The Living Wage rates are the only rates independently calculated based on what people need to live in the UK and London. The 2018 increases have been largely driven by higher transport costs, private rents and council tax feeding through to the basket of goods and services that underpin the rates.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As the standard-bearer for the social enterprise sector, it is important to us to achieve independent recognition of our own business practices. This is why we are proud to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer, part of a network of 4,700+ businesses that have proven their commitment to paying a real living wage that meets the real cost of living.”

Tess Lanning, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “The Living Wage campaign is about tackling the rising problem of people paid less than they need to live. Responsible businesses know that the government minimum is not enough to live on, and today’s new Living Wage rates will provide a boost for hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the UK.

“Employers that pay the real Living Wage enable their workers to live a life of dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and meet the pressures of rising bills. We want to see local councils, universities, football clubs, bus companies and the other major public and private sector employers in every city commit to become real Living Wage employers. When they do, thousands of people get a pay rise, but other local employers also follow their lead. If more of these institutions step up, we can start to build true Living Wage places.”

For more information about Living Wage Week go to http://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-weekThe below video explains how you can become an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Become a Living Wage Employer from Living Wage Foundation on Vimeo.

BASE Supported Business Alliance

Developing a quality assurance mark for Department for Work and Pensions

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, has today announced increased funding and other measures to support businesses that provide extra employment support for disabled people with the greatest barriers to work.

When the Work Choice employment programme ends in March 2019, ongoing support will be offered to individuals working in “supported businesses” through specially designed new elements of the government’s Access to Work scheme.

In parallel, the government will also work with the Supported Business Alliance (SBA) and The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) to help them develop a new quality mark for supported businesses.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is delighted to be involved in this development, which will provide assurance to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the quality of employment outcomes for disabled people.

Martin Davies, Supported Business Alliance, Chair of the Supported Business Steering Group, said:

“I welcome today’s announcement which will secure the future of thousands of job for disabled employees. We have been working alongside the DWP for over 12 months on this and will continue to collaborate with them to develop a quality assurance ‘mark’ for supported employers and a long-term funding model. We’re committed to supporting the government IN getting more disabled people into sustainable employment and ensuring the supported business sector can flourish.”

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC added:

“We welcome the news that so many jobs have been secured for disabled people. We look forward to working with DWP and the Steering Group going forwards to develop a quality mark that will help these businesses ensure social value and financial sustainability for the future.”

 

Social Enterprise Gold Mark

Social Enterprise Gold Mark Review 2018

Many thanks to Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark holders and other partners and stakeholders who took the time to participate in our recent stakeholder consultation as part of a review of the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This also provided an opportunity to reflect upon the main Social Enterprise Mark and influence the general direction of our social enterprise accreditation services.

Social Enterprise Gold Mark consultation 2018 summarySpecial thanks to those respondents who took part in the telephone interviews, to enable us to explore different responses in greater detail.

We have now completed our analysis of the results and internally discussed our response, along with actions we plan to take. We are pleased to share this summary report, which provides an overview of the consultation findings and how we plan to act on these.

Our plan is to report on progress made with the revision of the Social Enterprise Gold Mark by the end of September 2018. We then plan to consult stakeholders on the new proposals before implementing any final changes that may be agreed in light of this additional feedback. The aim is to launch a revised Gold Mark before the end of the year.

We would welcome any additional feedback you may care to offer regarding these plans. You can get in touch with us by emailing enquire@socialenterprisemark.org.uk or by calling our helpline on 0345 504 6536.

It should be challenging, it shouldn't be a tick box, that's not what being a social enterprise is about. It's a way of life - to be seen by your peers as what you strive to be

Social UP design thinking workshop

FREE Design Thinking workshop in Bristol

Want to find out more about how Design Thinking can benefit your organisation?

Come to our FREE workshop in Bristol to gain a hands-on introduction to Design Thinking for Sustainable Social Enterprises and how it can help you to drive customer centric service innovation and growth within your organisation.

The workshop is suitable for social entrepreneurs, startups, social enterprises, charities, business students and NGO’s with a social purpose.

BS3 Community Development logoPlaces are limited: click on the link below for more information and to book your place:

11th July – hosted by BS3 Community Development in Bristol

This is part of the Social UP project, which aims to use design thinking principles to improve the sustainability, social impact and scalability of social enterprises, to enable them to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner.

 


We are also running a free project wrap party on 25th July, where we will provide an overview of the project and key findings, as well as present the online tools that have been produced support and motivate design thinking within social enterprises in order for them to grow, scale–up and prosper.

Lightbulb in thought bubble on blackboard

Annual conference – short survey

We are now already thinking ahead to next year’s conference and welcome your input to help us make it even better than this year.

In particular, we would like to know what time of year and location would work best for you, and any potential barriers to your attendance at the conference. Please help us by completing this short survey.

Create your own user feedback survey

Phil Hope presenting Louise van Rhyn of Partners for Possibility with Making a Mark competition award

Partners for Possibility named
Making a Mark competition winners

Making a Mark competitionPartners for Possibility (PfP), the flagship programme of Symphonia for South Africa, was named as the winner of the 2018 Social Enterprise Mark CIC ‘Making a Mark’ competition at a celebration at our conference in York on 6th June.

We invited former MP Phil Hope to present the award as part of our annual awards ceremony, which was accepted by Louise van Rhyn , founder of Partners for Possibility/Symphonia for South Africa, who also delivered the opening keynote speech at the conference.

On accepting the award, Louise said:

“It is fantastic for the work of PfP to be recognised in this way. Our innovative programme provides much-needed support and capacity building for school principals who have received little or no preparation for the challenging task of managing a complex organisation with very limited funds amidst crippling social challenges, such as poverty, child-headed households, drug abuse and gangsterism.

It was a pleasure to deliver the opening keynote today, and to share our experiences of how reciprocal learning partnerships between business and community can be a powerful force for positive change.”

Making a Mark competition awardLouise was presented with a special award, created for us by Social Enterprise Mark holder Start Creative *, a social enterprise which provides a range of high quality hand crafted products and services to public, private and social sectors, whilst providing positive commercial experiences to volunteers who are referred via mental health services.

This is the third year of the Making a Mark competition; a celebration of the vast and diverse social benefits created by Social Enterprise Mark holders, which highlights interesting examples of how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable social impact within their local communities and in wider society.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said, “We are delighted to announce our first African Social Enterprise Mark holder Partners for Possibility as the 2018 ‘Making a Mark’ competition winners. They won because of their clear commitment to tackling a major social need in new innovative ways, by mobilising business, government and civil society to work collaboratively towards addressing the educational challenges facing South Africa. 

As delegates had heard Louise’s inspiring and rousing story at the start of the conference, everyone in attendance was in no doubt of the well deserved winner! Well done to Louise and the whole PfP team.”

PfP was shortlisted alongside five other organisations, including Cosmic and Ealing Community Transport, which were both named as runners up. The competition shortlist was subject to a public vote and a separate vote by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team, both of which accounted for 50% of the final result.

We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the competition finalists:

  • Making a Mark competition shortlistCosmic
  • Ealing Community Transport
  • East Lancashire Medical Services
  • Live Active
  • Midlands Psychology CIC
  • Partners for Possibility

Start Creative logo*Start Creative is  the commercial arm of Start in Salford, which provides positive commercial experiences to volunteers,  who are referred via primary and secondary mental health services in Salford.

Their volunteers are highly trained individuals at risk of or suffering from mental ill health, all of whom benefit in some way from the creative process that goes into making high quality hand crafted products. Start Creative continually develops in response to the needs of the volunteers that engage in the work to provide a vibrant and supportive working environment and retail opportunities for their work.

Disability Confident

Developing a new framework for supported businesses

We are currently working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Supported Business Steering Group to develop a new framework to enable supported businesses to prove their credentials when bidding for DWP programmes.

The Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark (SEDEM) will build on the principles of Disability Confident, to provide assurance to DWP on the quality of employment outcomes for disabled people.

Book tickets to Spreading the Wealth conferenceOur upcoming conference will provide a perfect opportunity to find out more about the SEDEM. Stephen Lismore from DWP and Martin Davies will be running a workshop on employing people with disabilities, which will look at the Government’s commitment to increasing the levels of disabled people in employment, and how those that facilitate the employment of disabled people could particularly benefit from the new accreditation.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to network with the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team, who can answer any questions they may have about the proposed framework.

Supported businesses can claim a 25% discount on tickets by quoting BASE_2018 when booking tickets online.

Vote for your winner in Making a Mark competition

The Making a Mark competition is back for a third year!

This annual competition celebrates the vast impact that accredited social enterprises make through their diverse activities, highlighting examples of how accredited social enterprises are creating considerable social impact within their local communities and in wider society and the environment.

We are delighted to announce the below finalists, which we have shortlisted from entries from our network of Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark holders, based on the quality of their responses to the social impact questions that are required as part of the application and full review process.

  • Cosmic
  • Ealing Community Transport
  • East Lancashire Medical Services
  • Live Active Leisure
  • Midlands Psychology CIC
  • Partners for Possibility

Making a Mark competition shortlist

It is now your chance to have your say, as we open it up to a public vote, which will account for 50% of the final result, with the vote of the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team and independent Certification Panel accounting for the other 50%. The winner will be announced at a special reception at our annual conference (in York) on 6th June 2018.

Voting will close at midnight on Friday 4th May.

 

 

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

New #SocEntHour Twitter chat to connect social enterprises

#SocEnt hour Twitter chatWe are excited to be launching a new Twitter chat in April, to provide an open platform for social enterprises to connect with each other.

During our many years of providing accreditation for the social enterprise sector, we have learnt that one of the things our network values most is opportunities for networking and joint working with like-minded businesses. The #SocEntHour Twitter chat will bring together social enterprises to facilitate discussions and to hopefully generate new opportunities.

Our Twitter channel has almost 8.5k followers and reaches over 20,000 people per week. Why not join us at #SocEntHour to connect with a large audience of social enterprises and access opportunities for shared learning and partnerships. We’d love to see you there!

We will host the Twitter chat every Wednesday at 3-4pm GMT/BST, via the @SE_Mark channel. The first #SocEntHour will be on Wednesday 11th April 2018.

We are keen that the audience will choose what you want to talk about, so this will very much be led by you! To begin with, we will select a broad subject via Twitter poll, based on suggestions from the network – we will announce this in advance each week to allow you to plan your content.

How to get involved

  1. Follow @SE_Mark on Twitter
  2. Join us during #SocEntHour (Wednesdays 3-4pm GMT/BST) and get involved in the conversation using the hashtag #SocEntHour
  3. Follow the conversation by searching for #SocEntHour and click ‘latest’ to view tweets as they come in

We invite you all to get involved and look forward to what we are sure will be interesting discussions.

Venus Awards shortlist

Devon and Cornwall Venus Awards Semi-Finalists Announcement

Alexis Bowater, Regional Partner of the Devon and Cornwall Venus Awards 2018 was host to over 100 people at the Treasury in Plymouth earlier this week, welcoming guests that included nominees and sponsors from all corners of the counties, and where the names of those progressing to the semi-final stage were announced.

The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member.

Lucy Findlay shortlisted for Venus AwardsOur Managing Director Lucy Findlay was delighted to be shortlisted as a semi finalist in two categories; Lifetime Achievement and Networker of the Year.

In its fifth consecutive year of the Venus Awards in Devon and with the new addition of Cornwall, the response remains consistently strong with over 1,750 nominations and 500 applications. The successful Semi-Finalists will be invited to the Finalists Announcement on 1st March 2018.

Regional Partner, Alexis Bowater, said of the awards; “I’m absolutely delighted to be taking the Venus Awards into Cornwall this year and increasing the reach of these business awards across the Tamar. It was another fantastic turnout and we are thrilled to congratulate our Nominees and Semi-Finalists.

“Once again we are celebrating some of the region’s most inspirational women and their achievements in their industry and I can’t wait to meet the Semi Finalists again.”

The Devon and Cornwall Venus Awards 2018 in association with Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management and partnership with Alexis Bowater from Bowater Communications will culminate in a glamorous Ceremony and Gala Dinner on the 27th April 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Plymouth.

Social UP project

Research report: design thinking for sustainable social enterprises

Innovative and high-impact solutions for social problems

Social UP research reportThe first phase of the Social UP project has been completed, and a research report is now available, which analyses the needs and challenges of social enterprises, presents relevant methods and tools of Design Thinking (DT) for increasing social impact, and considers ways to enhance creative problem-solving and innovation skills through DT-based online learning.

Findings are based on extensive quantitative and qualitative research and input across different stakeholders, in UK, Finland, Greece and Spain.

Social economies employ over 11 million people in the EU, accounting for 6% of total employment. The burgeoning interest in social entrepreneurship across Europe has been driven by the recognition of the role social enterprises can play in tackling societal challenges, austerity measures and ongoing withdrawal of public agencies from supplying social services in tandem with new and growing social needs.

According to the European Commission, social enterprises in Europe are expected to constitute a dynamic entrepreneurial movement encapsulating the drive for new business models that combine economic activity with social mission and the promotion of inclusive growth.

Still, survival and growth of social enterprises is hindered by several internal key constraints:

  • lack of viable business models;
  • high reliance on the public sector as a source of income;
  • lack of entrepreneurial spirit, skills and specialised advisory services.

The Social UP (Erasmus+ co-funded project) aims to improve sustainability and scalability of social enterprises to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner, by cultivating Design Thinking culture, adapted to their own needs. As a human-centered, experimental and interdisciplinary approach, Design Thinking offers social entrepreneurs opportunities to create innovative solutions rooted in people’s actual needs, and, as such, the possibility to unlock the real impact.

On the basis of the research findings, the project will now progress to design and develop the Design Thinking Field Guide for Social Enterprises, an online toolkit to support social enterpreneurs’ and wantrepreneurs’ knowledge and skills to use Design Thinking and increase their competitiveness and growth but also assist enterprise advisers and developers, vocational education trainers (VET) and Design Thinking experts to support social enterprises in the process.

Special thanks to all parties who have contributed to this research by sharing their experiences, expertise and knowledge, all taken into count in the the development of the learning material.

 Access the full report here

Executive summaries in Finnish, Greek, Spanish are available here

Find out more at the official website http://designthinking-socialup.eu

Like us on Facebook DesignThinkingSocialUP

Follow us on Twitter @DTSocialUP

Living Wage Employer badge

It’s Living Wage Week

As an accredited Living Wage Employer, we are proud to support Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November), a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

We welcome the increase in UK and London rates announced by the Living Wage Foundation this morning, and commit to paying this real Living Wage – independently calculated to meet the cost of living –  to all employees.

Living Wage Week

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said: “As a Living Wage Employer we proudly fly the flag for the Living Wage Week campaign to ensure that employees can actually live on what they earn, no matter where they live or how old they are.”

“To us at Social Enterprise Mark CIC, it’s important to get the proper recognition for this and we are pleased to be working with the Living Wage Foundation to highlight the need for transparent accreditation via our #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “Year-on-year, we see organisations and businesses across the UK embracing the real Living Wage as they recognise that a fair day’s pay is not only the right thing so to but can improve the quality of staff’s work, reduce absenteeism and increase motivation and retention.”

“Today’s increase acknowledges that the cost of living continues to rise for workers everywhere and the leadership shown by businesses who welcome this is a cause for celebration during Living Wage Week, sending a positive message to the business community to show what others can achieve.”    

For more information about Living Wage Week go to http://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-week

Living Wage Week 2017 from Living Wage Foundation on Vimeo.

Investors in People

Investors in People join Beyond the Badge campaign

We are delighted to welcome Investors in People as a partner in the Beyond the Badge campaign, which aims to make it easier for consumers to identify businesses that are proven to be doing good.

Investors in People (IIP) is the Standard for people management. The IIP framework sets out how to lead, support and develop people well for sustainable results. The IIP standard is the sign of a great employer, and an organisation committed to achieving success through realising the potential of its people.

Investors in People (IIP) sets out how to lead, manage and support people well for sustainable results. IIP accreditation is the sign of a great employer and an organisation committed to achieving success through realising the potential of its people.

Commenting on the partnership, Paul Devoy, CEO of Investors in People said “We are passionate about backing the #GoBeyondTheBadge campaign because a badge is more than just a stamp. Investors in People signifies a good employer, it represents a workplace where every individual has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Investors in People is proud to support the #GoBeyondTheBadge movement, upholding the importance of businesses commitment to making a change and succeeding at it.”

In 2017, IIP was established as a Community Interest Company, and is committed to shaping a working world where employers, employees and the community succeed by understanding the value of investing in people. By working for individuals, employers and the wider community, IIP provides a structure for employers to measure and improve, promoting fair working conditions for individuals whilst also highlighting excellence in people management across communities.

IIP joins a group of standard setting bodies that share common values and principles in their approach to accreditation. Each organisation is responsible for an independent accreditation/certification scheme, and we are all united by a common focus of setting and overseeing robust, credible and transparent standards for businesses. Click here to find out more about our campaign partners.

 

WISE100 launch

Lucy Findlay named among top women in social enterprise

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark CICWe were delighted to discover last week that Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, is included on the inaugural WISE100 (Women in Social Enterprise 100) index, which recognises inspirational women in social enterprise.

A new initiative from NatWest SE100, the WISE100 was launched at a special event in London last week.  The index is the first of its kind, and aims to recognise the invaluable contribution of 100 of the most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation.

Responding to the news, Lucy said “I’m honoured to have been recognised as part of the first inspiring WISE100. Women are taking the lead in so many ways in the social enterprise world and it’s important that this is acknowledged and celebrated.”

Lucy was also delighted to be joined on the list by female leaders of several Social Enterprise Mark holders, including Julie Hawker from Cosmic, Amy and Ruth Anslow from hiSbe, and Kate Welch from Social Enterprise Acumen. More than 250 women were nominated for the index, with the final list selected by a panel of judges. The full list can be found here.

The social sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality; in the UK, over 40% of social enterprises are led by women, and more than half of all social enterprises have a majority female workforce*. In comparison, just 6% of FTSE100 companies have female leaders. The WISE100 initiative is therefore important because it will help to inspire other sectors to diversify their workforce, bringing benefits not just to women but to business in general.

 


* State of Social Enterprise 1027 report

Podcast – A different way of doing business

In the latest interview released on Tony Loyd’s Social Entrepreneur podcast, Lucy Findlay talks about the development of the unique social enterprise accreditation offered by Social Enterprise Mark CIC, which provides accreditation for businesses that enhance the greater good.

“We recognize the type of business that is putting the money it makes back into society and the environment rather than using it for shareholder gain….our Mark helps them to prove that.”

Lucy also talks about her own route into social enterprise, from a land use and town planning background, through to the launch of the Social Enterprise Mark back in 2010, to now scaling the business up internationally.

“This is a movement that has spread around the world.”

You can hear the full interview on Tony Loyd’s Social Entrepreneur podcast, or via podcast apps including iTunes, Google Play, and SoundCloud.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of the Social Enterprise Mark

Have we reached the point of diminishing social return?

Lucy Findlay responds to the 2017 State of Social Enterprise Report

State of Social Enterprise 2017 - Social Enterprise UK

State of Social Enterprise 2017 – Social Enterprise UK

The 2017 State of Social Enterprise report was launched by Social Enterprise UK last week.  The findings around profitability got me thinking.  Apparently, larger social enterprises are more likely to make a profit; 72% of those with more than 100 employees, compared with 45% of those with less than 10.  I guess that this is not that surprising as economies of scale are achieved and therefore likely greater margins. Of course, 100 employees is still regarded an SME by government definitions.

Profitability of is only part of the story for social enterprises, and as this survey highlights, it’s impossible to report on the measurement of social impact and the ideal size of business to deliver to maximise this.  This is a perennial conundrum for the social enterprise sector.  When does the law of ‘diminishing social impact returns’ kick in?  Are local social enterprises better at delivering local services because they know the patch, and can they still do a good job when they upscale? That is, when do they start to demonstrate some of the negative characteristics we see in corporate delivery (e.g. lack of personal service, flexibility, understanding of local conditions etc)?

The need to scale up is also a challenge for social enterprises that wish to trade with the public and corporate sectors. To gain a place on the ‘preferred supplier register’ there is often a requirement to deliver a consistent service over a large area.  The report shows that there has been some progress in terms of consortia and replication, particularly in London, with 29% part of a consortium and 18% replicating their work.  But this remains a major barrier in terms of trading in today’s climate that sees big as being better.  What price for social value?

Another concern is the continuing high reliance on public sector for profitability, particularly for large social enterprises (although it has fallen from 57% to 51% since the last report). I highlighted this in a previous blog back in 2015.  In a climate where the public sector is still facing major cuts, diversification is key.  We need to spread our wings and think as laterally as possible, rather than just expecting commissioners to change.  Anecdotal evidence from our Mark holders shows that commissioners are becoming more risk averse, not less, with some services delivered by the social enterprise sector retreating back into the NHS for example or being delivered by a bigger player whether the service is better for patients or not.

All that being said, I was very encouraged to see that “almost four-fifths of social enterprises use their social enterprise status in marketing their products and services (37% to a great extent, 40% to some extent). Only 6% do not use it at all. This continues a pattern seen since 2011 when only 53% of social enterprises used their status Social Enterprise Markin their marketing in some way.”

It’s great to see that social enterprises are becoming louder and prouder about their USP and what better way to prove your social enterprise credentials that applying for the Social Enterprise Mark!

Graduates