The Social Enterprise Silver Mark – Launch Event

Social Enterprise Silver MarkWe are excited to share that we are launching a new tier of our comprehensive social enterprise accreditation pathway.

The Social Enterprise Silver Mark is an amplified standard of social enterprise accreditation, which demonstrates a business’ commitment to a course of continuous improvement, working towards proving social enterprise excellence. It will provide a pathway to achieving the Social Enterprise Gold Mark; the highest standard of excellence in social enterprise.

We are currently working with a small group of organisations which currently hold the Social Enterprise Mark, to assess them against the new Silver Mark framework. These will then become the inaugural recipients of the new accreditation when it is launched in later this Autumn.

Here are the details of the official launch event  – this is an online event with an exciting guest speaker and we will be showcasing the pioneering organisations that have been through the new assessment process.

Find out more about the event and sign up via our Eventbrite page.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Social Enterprise Silver Mark and how it could benefit your business, please complete this short form and we will be in touch shortly to provide more information and answer any questions you may have.

If you check this box, we will add you to our supporters mailing list, which we send regular updates to about our network of accredited social enterprises and our accreditation services. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the email.
Stakeholder survey summary showing key statistics

Social Enterprise Mark CIC 2023 Stakeholder Survey Summary

Earlier this year, we conducted a comprehensive survey of our Mark Holders and other key stakeholders, to ensure our services continue to address the evolving needs of the growing social enterprise sector and create meaningful impact.

Many thanks to all those who took the time to participate in the survey – your feedback is extremely valuable and will help inform our strategic direction and future development of our services.

Stakeholder survey summary 2023We are pleased 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 data collected in the survey will be used to create our annual impact report, which will be published in the Autumn.

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


Do you qualify?If you are interested in finding out more about gaining accreditation for your social enterprise, you can take our short online quiz to check your eligibility or register your interest in applying for accreditation.

Photo of a woman speaking with text overlay: "The world is changing, and governments and businesses need to change with it, not remain stuck in the old paradigm."

Having real teeth: A taxing issue

I’m not talking about dentists or crowns (although we do have a brilliant Mark Holder in Peninsula Dental that does this!), rather tax breaks for social enterprises and businesses that can prove they are achieving a better world through their business model.

We can help prove and evidence this as all of our social enterprise accreditations independently verify that the business is led by social and environmental objectives rather than shareholder gain, and therefore could be used to help identify such businesses where tax breaks are applicable. In this blog I examine why we now urgently need this bold step.

Many political parties claim to want more businesses that are truly ‘purpose led’ but have not backed it up with specific policy or legislation. The world is changing, and governments and businesses need to change with it, not remain stuck in the old paradigm. Straightforward tax breaks would really make a difference and stimulate the growth that is so urgently needed.

The UK Government has consistently resisted the provision of simple fiscal incentives for specific types of company, preferring to remain agnostic on structure despite evidence that social enterprises contribute so much to the economy as well as tackling social and environmental issues. The sole recent tax relief aimed at social enterprises in England (which is now finished) was Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR), which was aimed at investors rather than for the business itself and was largely irrelevant to most social enterprises as they can’t take equity investment (not to mention it was complicated to administer and understand).

Rather than incentivise certain beneficial types of company that help deliver policy objectives, the orthodoxy is that the market will provide outcomes and investment due to the profit motive. The profit driver above all other considerations comes at a cost to non-financial outcomes. The time has come for all parties to challenge this orthodoxy, particularly in delivery of goods and services that people depend upon for their daily lives.

The current scandal around water companies perfectly illustrates why we need governments to incentivise in the right way. Currently, financial rewards are reaped for those that asset strip in the name of higher dividends – ignoring the social and environmental consequences of not investing in these aspects of the business. There have been other recent well-known cases often led by private equity firms making quick returns at the expense of long-term stability and reinvestment in staff and infrastructure.

‘Shareholder primacy’ as it’s known, is also one of the relatively undiscussed but key reasons that the UK is facing relatively high levels of stagnation and inequality according to a briefing by the Common Wealth Think Tank. The researchers have noted that it leads to behaviours that are much more pronounced in the UK – i.e. extracting larger shareholder payouts rather than investing in the workforce and the company, which leads to lower productivity. Their research finds that there is a correlation between democratic governance and higher levels of investment within the business. The pressure from financial markets to ‘disgorge cash’ has impact on both investment and thus sustainable growth.

Governance (i.e. the set of rules about how the company is set up) is an essential part of being ‘purpose led’. How can you have a business that extracts as much dividend and equity for shareholders as possible yet claims to be driven by social and environmental purpose? In the UK, the main stakeholder tends to be the shareholder – with relatively low priority being given to others such as the local community, employees and the environment.

Many political parties claim to want more businesses that are truly ‘purpose led’ but have not backed it up with specific policy or legislation. The world is changing, and governments and businesses need to change with it, not remain stuck in the old paradigm. Straightforward tax breaks would really make a difference and stimulate the growth that is so urgently needed. We will be lobbying parties for this change with our social enterprise partners on the Business Plan for Britain campaign. Watch this space!

If you are interested in accrediting your business to show your ethical and purposeful social enterprise credentials, you can register your interest here. You can also take our short online quiz to quickly identify if your business is eligible.

If you would like to keep up to date with our latest news please sign up for our newsletter.

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Social Enterprise Mark CIC named in SE100 index of top UK social enterprises

We are delighted to have been named in the NatWest SE100 Index of the UK’s top 100 social enterprises. We are in esteemed company – congratulations to all the social enterprises who made the list.

This is the third time we have been included in the index since 2020, when we were also shortlisted as a finalist for the SE100 Social Business Awards.

Managing Director Lucy Findlay said “Absolutely fantastic news that we have made it into the prestigious SE100 again this year. It’s great to be in the company of so many social enterprises truly making a difference to people’s lives and the world around us for the better.”

The SE100 Index is selected according to a number of different criteria to reflect both business and impact issues – including financial performance, how thoroughly impact is measured and managed, and commitment to both climate issues and to taking positive action on equality and diversity.

The Index was created by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, the bank’s independent social investment charity.

Megan Virrels, CEO of NatWest Social & Community Capital, said: “A huge congratulations to all those named in this year’s NatWest SE100 list. Social & Community Capital has been committed to supporting UK social enterprises for over 20 years, and we are constantly inspired by the resilience, ambition, and creativity that we see in the sector.

So we’re delighted to partner with Pioneers Post again to showcase the very best social enterprises across the UK and recognise the fantastic work of these impactful organisations.”

You can view the full SE100 Index on the Pioneers Post website.


Photo of two women sat in front of a low desk in an office space having a conversation

Wates and Impact Hub London expand social enterprise programme

Eight social enterprises have won a spot on a unique business support programme led by Wates Group and Impact Hub London, giving them an opportunity to expand nationally and secure larger contracts.

The seven-month Assisting Social Enterprises to Succeed (ASSETS) programme provides expert mentoring, workshops and peer sessions for a carefully selected group of social or environmental impact-driven suppliers to improve their readiness to scale up and successfully compete UK-wide. Wates employees will be volunteering their time to support the social enterprises as part of the project and Wates’ wider social value commitments.

The scheme, now in its third year, has already supported nine social enterprises, driving an average of 25% growth across the four businesses supported in 2022. Participants said it strengthened their commercial awareness and entrepreneurial talents, laying the groundwork for future business growth.

Now with the involvement of People’s Postcode Lottery and BSS – part of Travis Perkins Group – more businesses will benefit from the scheme.

From supporting young offenders into work to empowering communities to care for the spaces around them, the social enterprises awarded a spot on this year’s scheme are:

  • The Skill Mill Limitedproviding employment opportunities in construction, water and land management to young offenders.
  • Rising Stars Property Solutions creating employment and training opportunities for people from disadvantaged communities.
  • Down to Earth – offering fully accessible and inclusive homes, hospitals and school infrastructure to diverse community groups using traditional and sustainable building methods.
  • Ethstat Ethical Stationery – a sustainable and ethical procurement company that gives 100% of its profits towards ending homelessness and helping vulnerable people back to work.
  • Evolve – a company transforming the lives and aspirations of children and young people through mentoring, now looking to strengthen its offer to construction companies and housing associations through employee wellbeing programmes.
  • e50K Consultancy – supporting companies in defence, justice, construction and IT to become leaders in social value.
  • Urban Growth Learning Gardens – empowering communities to create and care for natural urban spaces in London.
  • Viewpoint Research Community Interest Company helping companies make informed decisions to improve services through customer satisfaction surveys, especially within the housing sector.

Su Pickerill, Head of Social Value at Wates, said

“It is a real privilege to be embarking on year three of ASSETS, supporting Social Enterprises (SEs) to scale and it’s great that this year we can grow the programme by bringing in BSS, part of the Travis Perkins Group, to partner with us and support more SEs. Furthermore, input from PPL will formalise research and learning to drive impact. 

“We have identified a broad cohort of SEs that will receive mentoring and workshop input and I look forward to watching their interactions with the mentors and to seeing their knowledge, awareness and impact increase.” 

Angelica Santodomingo, Senior Programmes Manager of Impact Hub London, said:

“We are delighted to launch the 2023 cohort of the Assisting Social Enterprises to Succeed (ASSETS) programme; it has a strong track record of supporting social enterprises in the construction industry supply chain, and we are excited to work with our partners to help more organisations achieve their goals and have a greater impact.”

Dave Castle, Managing Director of BSS, said:

“As a business at the heart of our communities, we take great pride in making positive local changes happen. Working closely with our customers and partners we believe that collaboration can be a real engine for change, so we are excited to be a partner in this programme and support social entrepreneurs in our industry as they look to innovate and positively impact the communities where we live and work.”

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:

“The launch of the ASSETS programme is a demonstration of our commitment to empowering social enterprises in the construction industry supply chain. We hope that the £78k awarded thanks to our players will enable participating businesses to scale their operations and secure larger contracts helping to foster a sustainable future for our construction industry.”


Assisting Social Enterprises to Succeed (ASSETS) is a business support programme for social enterprises in the construction industry supply chain. First launched by Impact Hub London and Wates in 2021, the scheme is expanding this year through a partnership with People’s Postcode Lottery and Travis Perkins BSS, who are providing additional funding and mentors. To learn more about the impact of previous ASSETS programmes, visit the programme website.

Collaborating for social change – recent events overview

We recently partnered with Cambio and Flourish CIC to organise a series of successful events in Manchester, which brought together a vibrant community of individuals and organisations committed to extending the reach, embedding best practice in, and amplifying the impact of social enterprises.

The events, supported by the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, featured prominent figures from across the social enterprise sector, who shared their insights and emphasised the significant role played by social enterprises in sustainable civic engagement and the pursuit of equitable growth.

Photo of a room full of people watching a person speaking at the front of the roomThe first event was an invite-only roundtable event promoting collaboration across social enterprise provision for Higher Education Institutions.

The conference invited key leaders from the Civic Universities network and keynote speakers included Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester and Professor Sharon Handley, Pro Vice Chancellor for Culture and Community at Manchester Metropolitan University.

This event was followed by an evening networking reception with keynote speaker Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and a showcase of local social enterprises, including Met Much, Tales to Inspire, Equal Education Chances, and All Ears CIC.







The final event was our ‘Beyond Better Business’ annual conference, which looked at the future of business and how alternative economic models, which prioritise the wellbeing of people and planet over private gain, can enable businesses to make a real difference to the communities in which they are based. Guest speakers included Erinch Sahan from Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Charlotte Timson from Transform Trade, and Chris Cowcher from Plunkett Foundation.

Photo of a panel of speakers sat on high stools in front of three pop-up bannersPhoto of people sat at tables in a glass atrium building








Our SEEChange partner Peter Ptashko FRSA, CEO of Cambio, expressed his gratitude to all those involved in the events, stating, “These fantastic events brought together the community in Greater Manchester to extend reach, embed practice and amplify impact in civic social enterprise. A big thank you to Andy Burnham and both the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University for catalysing that impact, as we continue to build towards a more sustainable, place-based future for business and society”.

Our Managing Director Lucy Findlay, highlighted the main event takeaways, saying, “Social enterprises can provide THE model for sustainable civic engagement and leveling up due to their combined financial and social value/impact approach, reinvesting in their communities rather than extracting for shareholders.

Without social enterprises, there is a risk of an inconsistent approach to supporting communities as funding waxes and wanes. Manchester is ahead of much of England due to better partnership working, thriving grassroots entrepreneurship, and support for social enterprise at a policy level by Mayor Andy Burnham.” 

Nickala Torkington, Co-Founder and Director of Flourish Together CIC added, “It was fantastic to bring the Social Enterprise Mark CIC conference to Manchester this year as well as shine a light on what our Universities and wider social economy are innovating and achieving. As well as showcasing local talent and discussing key turning points and solutions for our region, in benefiting people and planet,  it was great to learn from colleagues across the UK and nationally thanks to the networks and audience the event attracted.”

To keep up to date with future events, please join our newsletter mailing list.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Social Enterprise Mark CIC strengthens its Board of Directors

We are excited to announce we have appointed three new Non-Executive Directors to our Board, as we embark on an ambitious growth trajectory.

These new Directors, recruited through online board recruitment platform NuRole, bring a wealth of valuable experience to help us drive the organisation forward.

Alison BrownAlison Brown leads on partnership opportunities as Director of Community and External Engagement at the Open University, helping the faculty grow its income and influence across the UK. Her expertise includes sustainable growth, strategic communications and social impact. She holds several other non-executive roles and acts as a disability adviser to businesses in various sectors, drawing on her lived experience.

Kerryn KrigeKerryn Krige is a Senior Lecturer in Teaching Practice at the Marshall Institute for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy at the London School of Economics (LSE). She is also co-author of the book ‘The Disruptors, social entrepreneurs re-inventing business and society’ and has led two mapping studies of social entrepreneurship, with a focus on poverty and inequality.

Karen StantonProfessor Karen Stanton  is a consultant working in Higher Education. She is the former Vice-Chancellor of York St John University (2015-2019) and Solent University, Southampton (2019-2023). She led both institutions through a period of growth and transformation. Karen is passionate about widening access and participation to education and reimagining the delivery of education in a digital age. Throughout her career, she has emphasized the social purpose and impact of universities and their role as social enterprises.

We also welcome a new employee representative to the Board – Zoe Campbell has taken over from Rachel Fell, who has completed her two year tenure in the role.

We would like to extend our thanks to Sara Burgess, who has recently stepped down from the Board after seven years.

Square image with yellow background and white text: Have your say

Have your say on the future development of our services

As a customer-focused organisation, we conduct an annual stakeholder survey to ensure our services continue to address the evolving needs of the growing social enterprise sector and create meaningful impact.

We greatly value your input to inform the future development of our services and welcome you to participate in the survey.

Roots HRAs a thank you for your time, there is the option to be included in a prize draw* for a chance to win 4 hours of HR advice line support from social sector specialists Roots HR via their COMPLY service, valued at £396 + VAT. Support is delivered by social sector HR experts. Hours remain available to use for up to 12 months from the date you are notified of your win.**

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 Friday 23rd June 2023.


*The winner will be drawn at random from all complete survey responses after the survey closes.
**Access to the HR advice line is by phone or email. All work is undertaken remotely. Usage of time is recorded on a timesheet in multiples of 15 minutes.

Free bursary tickets for Beyond Better Business conference

W are excited to announce we have ten free bursary tickets available for our Beyond Better Business conference in Manchester on 17th May.

This is possible thanks to kind support from The Growth Company, which is a Social Enterprise Gold Mark holder.

These free tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and are limited to one per organisation. Priority is given to organisations which hold any of our accreditations, although we welcome other social enterprises to express an interest.

The conference will explore the future of business and how alternative economic models, which prioritise the wellbeing of people and planet over private gain, can go beyond ‘better business’ to enable businesses to make a real difference to the communities in which they are based. Confirmed speakers include Erinch Sahan of Doughnut Economics Action Lab, Charlotte Timson of Transform Trade, and Chris Cowcher of Plunkett Foundation.

Click here to find out more and book your ticket(s).

Orange background with white speech bubbles icon and text: it was really stimulating and one of the most thought provoking conferences I have been to for a while - previous attendeeOrange background with white text box: TESTIMONIAL - "This was excellent, I wanted to express how valuable the dialogue of the last 2 days has been. The experience has been superbly challenging, as I believe social enterprise should be" - previous attendee

Women in meeting

Join our Social Enterprise Women’s Leadership Network

We were excited to host the latest meeting of our Social Enterprise Women’s Leadership Network last week, which coincided with the celebrations around International Women’s Day.

We were joined by Dr Sharon Zivkovic (who joined us all the way from Australia!) and Cathy Brown, who spoke about neurodiversity in women’s leadership, using their personal experiences as neurodiverse social entrepreneurs.

We launched this network on International Women’s Day in 2021, to address the gap in support for women leaders in social enterprise. Meeting every couple of months, the network brings together women from across the world to benefit from much needed peer support, thought leadership and shared learning.

Having initially kept the group fairly small while we established the network, we would now love to welcome more women leaders to join us. If you are interested in joining please contact us at and we will share details of the upcoming meeting dates.

WISE100 badge - I am on the WISE100 Top 100 list

Lucy Findlay named on WISE100 list of leading women in social enterprise

Our Managing Director Lucy Findlay MBE has been named on a national index of the top women in social enterprise.

The annual WISE100 list, created by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, recognises inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation.

Responding to the announcement, Lucy Findlay said “It is a great honour to be named again in this list of amazing women. Their stories are not only inspirational, but illustrate how important the role of female leadership is to the world of social enterprise.

I am looking forward to attending the awards ceremony in London next month and meeting the other fantastic WISE100 women.”

The WISE100 is an initiative to celebrate, support & share expertise, learning and inspiration among Women In Social Enterprise across the UK. From the WISE100 index, 22 finalists have been selected across four categories for the UK Women in Social Enterprise Awards, including Social Enterprise Mark holders Charity Bank (Carolyn Sims) and Impact Hub London (Angelica Santodomingo).

The award winners will be announced on 7th March at a special ceremony, hosted at Coutts, the bank for “trailblazers and pioneers” – and part of the NatWest group – at its central London venue.

Click here to view the full WISE100 list.

Text: "13 years of' and Social Enterprise Mark CIC logo with text "upholding the standard for social enterprise"

Celebrating 13 years of impact as a social enterprise accreditation authority

Lucy Findlay at launch of the Social Enterprise Mark in 2010

Lucy Findlay at launch of the Social Enterprise Mark in 2010

It’s hard to believe that today marks 13 years since we launched the Social Enterprise Mark. We are now officially a teenager!

After a challenging few years, where we have, amongst other things, faced capacity issues, we are excited to move into this new phase of growth to further develop the business, including updating our systems and expanding our assessment capacity in order  to help us reach out to more businesses globally, helping them drive their ethical and sustainable business practice and standards.

Consistently for the last 13 years, we have been committed to raising the standards of, as well as building the capabilities of, social enterprises as competitive, sustainable businesses dedicated to maximising social impact, and also broadening the reach, awareness, understanding and adoption of the social enterprise business model.

Even with the immense challenges thrown at us all over the past few years, we have been delighted to see our international network of accredited social enterprises continue to grow, as more and more organisations seek to prove their social enterprise credentials. In 2021/22, the total number of organisations holding one of our accreditations increased by 10%.

Yellow background with orange and white circles and Social Enterprise Mark logo with text 'Impact Report 21/22"With a larger network comes increased opportunities to create impact, and to mark our anniversary, we are excited to share our 2021/22 impact report, which summarises the impact we created during 2021/22 in our role as an advocate for the social enterprise sector.

In creating this report, we used data from our 2022 stakeholder survey, which consulted our Mark holders and wider stakeholders on the development of our accreditation services, to ensure our services continue to address the evolving needs of the growing social enterprise sector.

As a customer-focused organisation, we were delighted to see increases in key indicators of customer satisfaction, including 100% of Mark holder respondents agreeing that our social enterprise accreditations “prove their commitment to contributing towards the creation of a stronger and fairer economy” and “help them communicate the significance of being an accredited social enterprise to our employees, partners and other stakeholders”.

It was also pleasing to see that over 95% of respondents agreed we play an important role as an advocate and representative for the social enterprise sector. As this is one of our core values, it is really important to us that we are living up to this (and our other values).

A key area we focused on in the last year was our networking function – we have successfully developed several networks to better support our diverse community of Mark holders and supporters, including an international women’s leadership network and our growing HEI network, as well as connecting and expanding our Ambassadors,. We were excited to establish a new partnership with Cambio House for Change to host not one, but two national conferences, which focused on how social enterprise can be better embedded into higher education.

Group of people holding Social Enterprise Mark certificatesWe also further developed our existing partnership with Social Impact Ireland to accredit and raise the visibility of new and existing social enterprises in Ireland. Attending the official launch of the Social Enterprise Mark Ireland in Dublin in November was one of my highlights of 2022. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it was great to meet the first cohort of eight inspirational social enterprises that have been supported by Social Impact Ireland to achieve the Social Enterprise Mark.

We see 2023 as a key transitional year as we strengthen our Board, team, systems and processes to better equip us to reach the next phase in our journey, growing our gravitas, ethics, values and maturity.

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We are recruiting

We are currently recruiting an experienced Business Development Manager to cover a period of maternity leave (up to 12 months).

We are looking for a consultative salesperson, preferably with experience in the social business sector, to help us drive sustainable growth for our social enterprise, particularly in the areas of health and higher education.

The successful candidate with work closely with our Marketing and Communications Manager to create demand, as well as closing sales deals and leading business development activity with the Managing Director to ensure we set and hit the right targets.

We are flexible both in terms of location and also employment terms and hours (we will consider associates/freelancers as well as direct employment).

Click here to view the job description and to apply, please send us your CV with a covering letter outlining how you meet the person specification.

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Vacancies to join our Board of Directors

As we embark on an ambitious growth trajectory to develop our international presence as an award-winning social enterprise accreditation authority, we are currently recruiting up to three new Non-Executive Directors to strengthen our Board.

We are particularly looking for candidates who can bring a strong background in SMEs, Higher Education or healthcare.

We are partnering with Nurole, the leading board-level hiring platform, to find the best candidates. You can find out more and register your interest on the Nurole website. For any questions or problems, please contact

The deadline for applications is Thursday 2nd February. Interviews will take place on 27th and 28th February.

These roles are unremunerated, but reasonable and pre-agreed domestic travel expenses will be covered. The appointment is for a three-year term, which can be renewed once at the discretion of the Board.

Click here to view profiles of the existing board members.

An International Business Model: The Challenges and Highlights

Visiting Dublin during 2022’s Global Entrepreneurship week to announce the first cohort of Social Enterprise Mark Holders at the renowned Rediscovery Centre was a Watershed moment. The event had a great celebratory atmosphere beginning with the launch of the Social Enterprise Mark Ireland and hearing of the support from Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland (SERI) for accreditation and how important it is in gaining credibility for the sector as well as the ensuring quality standards are set and maintained.   

I would like to celebrate each and every one of those social enterprises who all spoke so eloquently about what the award meant to them. The event included moving stories about the journeys that founders and their supporters had been on.

To quote the founder of Alex’s Adventure, Nicole Ryan, “Gaining the Social Enterprise Mark for Alex’s Adventure has been one of the highlights of my career”. The death of her 18 year old brother in an accidental overdose in a nightclub inspired her to change the world for the better and become his story teller and catalyst. She gave up her engineering career to speak across the country to young people and help them make the right choices leading to Alex’s Adventure drugs education programme.

More pictures and case studies can be seen on the Social Enterprise Mark Ireland website.   

For a small social enterprise such as ours, getting the international business model right is a challenge both for capacity and quality assurance. Our international delivery partners have been crucial in sharing their understanding of the local social enterprise community as well as what we are trying to achieve, i.e. a clearer standard for social enterprises to ensure there is a robust business model which will support businesses to make a real difference and tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, e.g. global inequality and climate change.

We essentially want greater recognition of the social enterprise business model as part of the redistributive business solution in a world where business is often extractive. 

Social Impact Ireland team

Going forwards, we want to achieve sustainable scale through both a network of licensed partners and a network of peer assessors. Key to this has been our partnership with Social Impact Ireland, who have worked with us for the last three years to capacity-build and support a number of social enterprises as well as getting these businesses prepared for accreditation via the Social Enterprise Mark

This was a long journey given the different governance structures as well as the lack of recognition and relative youth of the social enterprise sector in the Republic of Ireland. It required patience and diligence from both sides, but I think it’s fair to say it was a true partnership that worked together to overcome what could have been insurmountable obstacles at times.   

In 2023 we want to build on our learning and, alongside building more partners, equip our Mark holders themselves to grow through a programme of trained peer assessors, who will help us spread the word and develop our own capacity to respond to the huge opportunities that international accreditation of social enterprise can bring.

Watch out for more in our newsletters and social media 

Case Study - How accreditation benefits social enterprises - Paul Tarrant

How accreditation benefits social enterprises – Paul Tarrant

How accreditation benefits social enterprises – Gareth Hart

Employee Ownership

Dispelling the myths of Social Enterprise, Employee Ownership and Purposeful Business

It is frustrating that the wider world tends to have a very narrow understanding of what the key characteristics of being a good business are. This is not helped by the media’s portrayal of a macho business world in programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den and follows the news that often focuses on corporate scandal and businesses that are solely focused on the delivery of profit for shareholders at the expense of other models of business.

The rise of the ‘Purposeful Business

This polar focus is not the reality as most business owners and stakeholders realise that there is more to being a business than just making a financial profit, particularly in the light of climate change.  The rise of the ‘purposeful business’ has become a noticeable trend over the last few years. These types of businesses should aim to tackle the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and address the negative effects of economic development.

One of the main ways to ensure that a business is driven by a social purpose and social impact though is to embed this in the governance of the business through either a specific legal structure/form such as a Community Interest Company (CIC) or an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) that can limit shareholder financial gain.

Another way to ensure that a business is social values-driven is to write purpose, values and rules into governance both within governing documents and via the modus operandi of the Board of Directors and in the interaction with stakeholders.  This means that such a business can have a variety of legal forms. Social enterprises (SEs) and employee owned businesses (EOs) are good examples of these types of business. The Social Enterprise Mark ensures that that there is rigour in this approach by accrediting governing documents, trading levels and social impact.

Below we look in more detail at the overlap between the two and bust some myths associated with both:

Why consider employee ownership?

Becoming an employee-owned business intrinsically helps to create a people-centred business that values its staff. As the first large law firm in the UK to give all eligible members of staff an equal share in its profits, Stephens Scown is leading this approach and attracting interest from beyond the legal sector. In their experience, employee ownership means staff become more engaged and motivated to achieve growth with a view to the wider ethos and impact of the business. It also promotes a culture focused on each person’s contribution to the business and this in turn can support the development of a purposeful business.

The link between employee ownership and social enterprise

Becoming a social enterprise creates a values-led business because it puts people and planet before profit for shareholders. The Social Enterprise Mark has 12 years’ experience of applying and accrediting this approach internationally in all sectors. Additionally, in many cases there is an overlap between social enterprises and employee owned businesses because of the close relationship to values and valuing people. A good example of this is Social Enterprise Gold Mark Holder Integrated Care 24 urgent care providers which have offered company shares to all employees with the aim of gaining better staff engagement and ownership.


Myths around EO and SE abound, though. Here we outline a few of them:

Employee ownership and social enterprise models only work for a certain size of company

Not true… The John Lewis Partnership is a longstanding example of a large employee owned business. Market Carpets in Devon with 29 employees is a smaller example. In the social enterprise world we have a number of mark-holders with multi-million pound turnover such as University of Westminster and The Growth Company.

All the shares must be held by employees in the case of EO

A founder in an EO may wish to retain a shareholding as they are not retiring or it may be a family business with family members actively working in the business.

A social enterprise cannot have shareholders

Most do not have shareholders, but there are shareholder models such as Community Interest Companies Ltd by Shares and Community Benefit Societies but any dividend distribution is either zero or limited to 35% of profits.  At Social Enterprise Mark, a dividend cap of up to 49% of profits is also acceptable.

The employees use their own money to buy the company in the case of an EO

Not true…the company could seek bank funding but usually the purchase price is settled using the profits of the company over a period of time.

Both SE and EO are very niche rather than mainstream business models

Not true – in January 2021 it was found that employee ownership represented 1 in 20 private company sales. It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK. So long as the business is maximising social value rather than profit for individuals the many businesses could qualify as Social Enterprise’s for the Social Enterprise Mark.

A founder/shareholder (if a social enterprise has shareholders) will lose money if they choose Employee Ownership or Social Enterprise over a trade sale/company sale

True and false in both cases – it may be that the perfect purchaser wants to buy the company for more than it is worth because it fits into their strategic plan or the company is their main supplier in the case of an EO. If certain criteria are met, choosing employee ownership can be advantageous from a tax perspective for a founder as there is a capital gains tax exemption if at least half the business becomes employee owed. In the case of a CIC limited by shares, shares can be sold at a rate that a buyer is prepared to pay. This rate is likely to be limited, however, due to the limitations placed on assets and profit distribution.

If a business is employee-owned the employees could do what they like with it!

Not true – the company’s managers are accountable to the employees rather than external shareholders. If the company has a governing document, this will usually set out how decisions should be made and if certain criteria should be prioritised in decision making such as the likely impact on the climate or employees of a decision.

A social enterprise can be sold to a private company and lose its social enterprise status

True and false – a social enterprise should have some form of asset lock which maintains its independence from its parent that it is sold onto. In the case of the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation there’s a requirement that any parent company also holds an asset lock or can demonstrate a business case as to why it doesn’t (in very rare cases)

Offering different legal structures for a business out outside the Company Ltd by Shares model helps to ‘bake in’ social impact for employees and stakeholders.

Greater understanding and uptake of these models would help to ensure that social and environmental action are part of the business DNA.

We need greater profile of these alternatives rather than resorting to more common legal forms which put individual shareholder gain at the centre.

As the old saying goes ‘legal form should follow business function’.

By Catherine Carlton (Stephens Scown LLP) and Lucy Findlay (Social Enterprise Mark CIC)


EDEEY: Helping Aspiring Entrepreneurs Conference

The Ethical Digital Entrepreneurship for European Youth (EDEEY project) conference will showcase online learning platform that supports aspiring #entrepreneurs who are starting out on their ethical and social enterprise journey.

At the London conference you will hear from young people who are winners in the EDEEY competition to come up with a business idea and create a business plan. Expert speakers at the conference include our own Lucy Findlay MBE along with Christina Bonarou from Symplexis (Greece) and Sculpt’s Chief Executive Dr. Claire Bonham.

The learning platform has four available courses on:

1. Business Planning

2. Access to Finance and other support for your enterprise

3. Social Media and Content Marketing

4. GDPR and Digital Skills

Sculpt will be sharing the pilot cohort experience of the training resources in the UK, Cyprus, Czech Republic and Greece, and there will also be an opportunity to explore the online learning platform.

Lucy Findlay MBE says, “I am pleased to support the work of Sculpt. It’s really important for young people to find a source of support and guidance in their aspirations to help create a better world as well as to network and share with those with who have the same values.”

Book your place to attend in-person 22 June 2022 here.

Download the conference flyer here: Sculpt – EDEEY Conference JUNE 2022


Comm Growth Plan 2022

Community Enterprise Growth Plan: The Future of Dormant Funds

A coalition of organisations including partners Access Foundation, Impact Investing Institute, NAVCA, Power to Change, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Social Enterprise UK and Big Society Capital are launching The Community Enterprise Growth Plan.

Social enterprise, charity representative bodies and social investors have joined forces to call on Government to get behind a new plan to back enterprises in underserved places and communities in the forthcoming consultation on Dormant Assets.

The proposed new ‘Community Enterprise Growth Plan’ focuses on the untapped potential for growing enterprises with a social purpose across the country, particularly in places and communities that have been deprived of investment in the past. This includes areas identified by the index of multiple deprivation and those led by or serving protected groups such as people from ethnic minority backgrounds, those with an impairment or facing gender bias.

A 12-week consultation on the future use of dormant assets in England is expected to be launched this summer. The expanded scheme could release more than £880m additional funds for charities and social enterprises.





SEMCIC Stakeholder Survey 2022

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

We invite you to take part in our 2022 Stakeholder Survey, to share your thoughts on the services we provide and our role in the sector, as well as our future strategic direction.

The deadline to complete the survey is Monday 30th of May and your participation is greatly appreciated!

As a thank you for your time, you have the option to be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a free one-to-one marketing masterclass from our Marketing Lead at Social Enterprise Mark.

Kind Regards,

Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Be the Best

The Golden Thread: Embedding social enterprise for better student outcomes

All professional worlds have their own jargon.  The term ‘being student-centred’ is an important one for universities, but can be a challenge to achieve for an institution that has so many competing priorities. The increasing politicisation of the university world has also led to challenges around what exactly this term means.

On 25th April 2022, we held our first face-to-face networking meeting as part of a collaboration conference, for two years at the University of Westminster, one of our Social Enterprise Gold Mark holders. It was a really exciting and energetic event. The summary report can be found on our website.

Dr Peter Bonfield, Vice Chancellor, University of WestminsterBeing more student-centred around social enterprise was a key topic flagged up at the event. Dr Peter Bonfield, Vice Chancellor at University of Westminster said that 1 in 5 of their students go on to set up their own businesses, with many looking to make a difference to society and create a better world. Generational trends show that Generation Z are much more socially and environmentally conscious with many dedicated to fighting social and environmental change.

Mission and values are therefore of increased importance to students in gaining a higher education. They also want to see evidence of how these are being delivered at all levels of the institution. This is why the social enterprise business model is so crucial.  It provides the framework for a business that is creating social and environmental value as its raison d’etre.  It links directly into, for example, the delivery the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and civic responsibilities.

It is not a by-product; it is a state of mind and culture – the Golden Thread.

Findings from our conference show that there is a need to make better connections between the different threads from the student’s point of view, both inside and outside the teaching environment. For instance, extra-curricular activity needs better academic credit as well as making the better links to local social enterprises by bringing the ‘outside in’ through knowledge exchange (KE) activities.

Finance is another area that needs greater connection and thought. Many universities are still not embedding social value with equal emphasis to financial value into their finance modules themselves. This leaves a disjointed approach whereby social value often sits separately in a different function within the institution.

SEEchange Conference Roundtable DiscussionsAchieving the right advice and type of funding and support is also a challenge with much start-up funding and support focusing on a narrow base of STEM and high growth companies. Pitching competitions can also act as a barrier as many more socially motivated and marginalised students to not feel confident in this style. We need more links to peer-to-peer lending and support programmes outside the university setting as well as pivoting internal university support (including pump priming and growth capital) to help social enterprises grow sustainably.

When a university shows leadership in this area, we see jigsaw pieces come together for students too. There are good examples of how universities, such as Westminster (that hold our Gold Mark) have done this as set out in my joint article with Diana Beech for HEPI.

By making more distinctive links between student’s needs, teaching, the community, research and values, we see the best outcomes for a supportive environment and greater sustainability for all in the longer term.

Lucy Findlay MBE

Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC

SEEchange conference

SEEchange Collaboration Conference

On Monday 25th April 2022, Social Enterprise Mark CIC and Cambio: House of Social Change came together for SEEchange THE GOLDEN THREAD collaboration conference focused on the universities sector and social enterprise engagement.

The conference was delighted to welcome a diverse range of expert speakers and roundtable facilitators and the input, energy and enthusiasm throughout the day whether in the thought-leader sessions, panel Q&A, roundtables or networking…. There was certainly a lot of valuable networking going on, which is fantastic!

Feedback from the conference has been really encouraging in that people enjoyed being ‘in the room’ and being a collective has allowed for those adhoc conversations and meet ups that often bring opportunity and action, perhaps an element of dialogue that is often hard to simulate on a Zoom call.

Absolutely outstanding conference yesterday… making many new connections!”

“Really energetic discussion on our table!”

“Excellent event…. Great speakers with short talks, lots of networking… Superb hospitality.”

For those who attended the event thank you for letting us know what comes from the event for you and your organisation…. new connections, new opportunities, a contract or collaboration of like-minded enterprises. We’d love to hear about it!

Finally, a short summary is available to download here SEEchange Conference SUMMARY April 2022 Final and we’re very much looking forward to the Pioneers Post article so please keep an eye on our social media channels for that release soon!

It is really important that we acknowledge the kind support from our partners who enabled this event to take place:

IWD Women’s Networking – Back in the Room!

Our first in-person networking event of 2022 to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 was a great success and so lovely to see so many inspiring women attending.

In partnership with our office landlords Millfields Trust, we co-hosted this women-led networking event as we celebrated IWD at the Millfields Trust.  Our co-hosted event was over subscribed and attended by women across the City from all different sectors.  We all enjoyed an inspiring and engaging presentation from Jenny Evans who works at YTKO, as part of their fully funded Outset programme, helping other start-ups and entrepreneurs succeed and follow their passions!

Jenny offered valuable advice of how to #breakthebias for women in business having experienced difficult situations herself throughout her time of running her own businesses.

We felt very honoured to have the presence of the Lord Mayor, Councillor Terri Beer who presented gifts personally made by Jenny Evans; a pure silk cushion and notepad, as well as a free 1:1 Marketing Masterclass from the SEM CIC current Marketing Lead Sallie Ryan.

The lucky winners were:  Louise from Go South West and Antionio of Rhizome Artists’ Collective.

Thank you to all who attended and made our first event of the year a great success!

#IWD2022 # BreakingBusinessBias

IWD Reflections for 2022

Welcome to a very poignant International Women’s Day. 

This year it is so sad to remember where I was 2 years ago when I celebrated with my Siberian peer exchange and good friend Irina Makeeva and her family in Novosibirsk, followed by a trip to see Swan Lake.  In the days following, I met so many amazing people interested in and actively engaging in making a difference to their local and regional economies through social enterprise and social innovation. 

One of my most abiding memories, however, was when I listened to a disabled girl sing a popular tune at the local folklore school with her friends.  She sang with so much passion and hope.  She was due to sing the song with the star Jasmin who made the song a hit later that year, but then Covid19 intervened.

This year we have agreed with our Russian peers that we need to support one another symbolically – Women in Solidarity.  We are making a small gesture of cooking each other’s national dishes.  I have just made a big pot of Borsht!

Today we also celebrate a year of our Women’s Leadership Network which was launched on IWD21.  In a world where women often don’t identify with the term ‘leader’ we have together to exchange stories, tips and thoughts from inspirational women.  These are now all recorded and can be viewed on our YouTube channel. At today’s event we will be hearing from Daniela Papi-Thornton who will be speaking about her leadership journey and thoughts on reclaiming social entrepreneurship from the niche.

On Wednesday we are extending our celebrations to partner with out friends at Millfields Trust to run another women’s networking session in Plymouth on the theme of Breaking the Bias featuring Jenny Evans, an award winning young entrepreneur and artist. She studied textiles at Cardiff Metropolitan University, has won Santander’s University Entrepreneur’s national competition in 2017, and went on to set up a high growth, investor backed business in 2018 after raising a seed round of £350,000.   It’s not too late to sign up!


Lucy Findlay MBE

Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC

#BreakTheBias #IWD2022

APPG Inquiry into the impact of COVID on social enterprises

Great to hear from Charles Courtenay (Earl of Devon) Liz Minns Social Enterprise UK Karen Lynch (nee Borsberry-Woods) Lindsey Hall Real Ideas Organisation as some of the Panelists at the #APPG Inquiry Report Launch on behalf of Lucy Findlay MBE who contributed to the #socialenterpise sector evidencing on behalf of Social Enterprise Mark CIC and #SE_Mark Holders.

The role of the Inquiry was to investigate the impact of COVID on social enterprises and what lessons can be learned.

The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises experienced the pandemic in a unique way having to balance both increased demand from those people they support and pressure on their business. Many adapted their business models and pivoted to support their communities at a faster rate than their peers.

The inquiry identified four key themes during the course of its work.

  1. Lack of understanding of social enterprise across HM Government
  2. The importance of place-based working and local delivery
  3. The vital contribution of social enterprises to public services
  4. The substantial opportunity for social enterprises to contribute to the UK’s recovery and levelling up after the pandemic

Resonant themes include localism, joined up working, social economy and move of #socent to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)… lots to unpack, well worth a read.

📔 3 mins and a good ☕️

READ MORE and download the full report:
Inquiry into the impact of COVID on social enterprises » Social Enterprise UK

WiSE100 2022 list announced

WiSE100 Announced…. Our Congratulations to All

Exciting announcements this afternoon as the NatWest WiSE100 top women in social enterprise list is revealed!

Pioneers Post has now shared the incredible 100 women in the UK who are leading the way across the social enterprise sector…. and we are delighted that our own Lucy Findlay MBE is featured for the third consecutive year….

I am absolutely delighted to be named again this year in this prestigious list of amazing women.  It’s important to recognise the leadership of women, many often do not identify with the term ‘leader’.  Now more than ever we need a diversity in perspective that can help bring about a better world.

Lucy Findlay MBE, Founder & Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Also in the 2022 list of Women in Social Enterprise 100, we extend our warmest congratulations to Mark Holders who are brilliant ambassadors for the social enterprise sector: Devi Clark and Emma Lange of Impact Hub Kings Cross, Emma Lower of Lendology CIC, Julie Hawker CEO of Cosmic IT, Jacqueline Hollows of Beyond Recovery and Shannon Gorman of Resonance.

Next week, Pioneers Post will reveal the finalists in each of the four awards categories: Social Business Leader, Star of the Future, Environmental Champion and Social Business Champion. This will be followed on 18th March 2022 with a daytime celebration of the final Awards and winners of each category kindly hosted by NatWest Social & Community Capital. Book here to secure your free place (tickets numbers are restricted but still available).

Read more and explore the full #WiSE100 list here.

Photo of Lucy Findlay with quote text overlay: "As a sector we need to be the leaders in openness and transparency... in this world of increasing greenwash and hype around ‘purpose’ and ethics, so we are not left behind as others with louder voices and more power eclipse our voices through these means."

Tackling greenwashing through credible, independent standards

As we embark on our 13th year of providing clear and credible standards for the social enterprise sector, we remain committed to protecting the integrity of genuine social enterprises by supporting them to prove their credentials and lead the world in ethical and sustainable business practice.

Lucy Findlay at launch of the Social Enterprise Mark in 2010

Lucy Findlay at launch of the Social Enterprise Mark in 2010

We have seen many changes in the market over the 12 years since we launched the Social Enterprise Mark, and in recent years there has been a growing proliferation in marketing claims around ‘purpose’, ‘good business’ and ‘sustainability’. This has led to a more crowded marketplace for those businesses seeking to stand out based on their social enterprise credentials.

We have seen widespread ‘greenwashing’ – the practice of using misleading PR and marketing claims to appeal to ethical and environmentally-conscious consumers. Sadly, this is now commonplace in consumer markets and many large corporates often focus on specific areas of how their product/service is ‘environmentally-friendly’, ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’, while ignoring the other areas where they have a significant negative environmental impact.

With increasing numbers of consumers looking to spend their money with ethical and sustainable businesses, it is vital they are able to cut through this greenwash to identify those businesses that are genuinely focused on creating social or environmental benefits.

For example, in 2019 Shell announced a $300 million investment in ‘natural ecosystems’ as part of a strategy to take action against climate change. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has pointed out that such actions do not mitigate or offset the continued release of greenhouse gases that result from Shell’s extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

With increasing numbers of consumers looking to spend their money with ethical and sustainable businesses, it is vital that they are able to cut through this greenwash to identify those businesses that are genuinely focused on creating social or environmental benefits.

Following research by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2021, which showed a staggering 40% of green claims made online could be misleading consumers, new regulatory guidance has recently come into force in the UK, which protects consumers from misleading claims, and also protects businesses from unfair competition. The Green Claims Code, which sets out six key principles to help businesses ensure their green claims are genuine and not misleading, aims to creates a level playing field for those businesses whose products genuinely represent a better choice for the environment and who can make truthful environmental claims.

Our friend Sian Conway-Wood, Founder of the #EthicalHour online community, recently ran a webinar, which gave a really useful overview of the Green Claims Code and provided guidance to support businesses to get ready for the new guidance and use their sustainability as a competitive advantage whilst remaining compliant. We would recommend getting in touch with Sian if you would like support with turning your sustainability into a selling point.

Interestingly, the CMA guidance states that claims must not focus on a minor part of what the business does if the core business produces significant negative effects… I refer you back to the Shell example given above! Dependent on the power, resources and willingness of the CMA to act, hopefully the subsequent investigations (and probable high fines for those found to be flouting the regulations) will lead to a reduction in greenwashing. This would enable more social enterprises to truly differentiate themselves and stand out as the ethical and sustainable option.

Green Claims Code principle 5: substantiate any claims madeOne of the central principles of the Green Claims Code is that claims are substantiated by credible evidence. Part of this is being able to demonstrate that the claim has been subject to independent scrutiny/verification.

So, how can businesses that are genuinely driven by a motivation to create value for people and planet effectively back up their claims? One way to gain independent verification is through gaining external accreditation/certification.

In its guidance, the CMA states, “Symbols, trust or quality marks awarded by independent third parties on the basis of a formal assessment against lawful and objective criteria are less likely to be misleading. For example, where these endorsements are based on clear, publicly available criteria, or internationally accepted methodologies.”

Additionally, from a consumer point of view, they are more likely to trust claims that have been independently verified. Research commissioned by Compare Ethics in 2020 showed 83% of consumers would be more likely to trust a product’s sustainability claim if it had been verified by a third party.

Our own social enterprise accreditations provide independent assurance that an organisation has met a set of robust sector-agreed criteria, which are fully transparent and made public for anyone to view, which should create more customer/consumer trust in the claims made around being a social enterprise.

As a sector we need to be the leaders in openness and transparency, and we can’t expect people to take our claims for granted, especially in this world of increasing greenwash and hype around ‘purpose’ and ethics.

As social enterprise is still not a distinct legal form in most countries, in effect any business can claim to be one. By providing a clear and credible set of standards against which to assess social enterprises, we can hold these businesses to account for their claims and in doing so support them to prove their credentials and stand out from the crowd as in independently verified social enterprise, which is creating positive impacts for people and planet.

As one of our Social Enterprise Mark holders recently stated, “We can now proudly show that we have been assessed against a recognised and reputable framework, and that the work we do as a social enterprise has been validated by experts in the field… The accreditation process is very rewarding and has certainly been hugely beneficial to our organisation.”

As a sector we need to be the leaders in openness and transparency, and we can’t expect people to take our claims for granted, especially in this world of increasing greenwash and hype around ‘purpose’ and ethics. If we are not careful, we will be left behind as others with louder voices and more power eclipse our voices through these means.

Meaningful accreditation and showing our distinctiveness is an important part of getting our house in order to tackle the world’s challenges as we grow in maturity and stature.

If you are interested in finding out more about how accreditation can benefit your social enterprise, please complete our short online form and a member of the team will be in touch.

Image of a typewriter with a piece of paper with the word 'opinion' typed on it

Statement on the Adebowale Commission on Social Investment

By Lucy Findlay MBE, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC

We welcome the findings of the Adebowale Commission on Social Investment, which states that a new approach is needed to social investment.  It is true that social enterprise has been deprioritised, particularly by the big players, due to the perceived challenges of reaching social enterprises, the rigidity of the financial products as well as the bias and lack of understanding of the financiers and experts that make the decisions which has led to inequality and discrimination.

When I remember back to the early days of government involvement with the setting up of Big Society Capital, there was an explicit remit to lend to social enterprises. We had early discussions with them about the need to be clear about that market, to demonstrate true social impact. Part of the reason for the dilution, in my opinion, was the lack of transparency, which allowed a diversion of funds away from the sector. Such transparency can be provided through the use of independent accreditation standards, like the Social Enterprise Mark.

I have blogged on this issue at quite some length as well as leading the charge to try to get mainstream providers to adjust their approach to government emergency loans. It is my firm opinion that we need an overhaul of how the mainstream finance world works to make it fit not only for social enterprises but other types of business that put society and the environment first. This can only be done by engaging much better with stakeholders and gaining their ownership and direct involvement in decision making as well as being clear about the types of business that really offer social value in their DNA.

I welcome the approach of the new Growth Impact Fund, which is due to be launched by Big Issue Invest, UnLtd and Shift. This potentially represents a big shift in thinking that should be applied to all social investment (both mainstream and more ‘niche’) through being flexible, supportive and involving the expertise of those that have ‘lived experience’. I hope that this expertise will be mirrored in the makeup of the investment committee too as demonstrated by the likes of international beacons of expertise, such as SheEO.

Find out more about the findings of the Commission and read the report on the Social Enterprise UK website.

Image of 2021 written in sand with the tide coming in over the sand

Social Enterprise Mark CIC 2021 review

As is our usual custom at the start of a new year, we have been reflecting on the previous year and have created a short video to share our key highlights from 2021 as well as looking ahead to our key priorities for 2022.

This year, we want the world to understand that there is credible business alternative that leads the way in creating a better, kinder society that heals and tackles climate change and global inequality; the biggest issues of our time.

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

Wooden tiles spelling out 'Assessment'

Piloting a new approach to social enterprise assessment

We have recently been working with our friends at EFQM to learn how we can take a new approach to assessment as we scale our business. EFQM adopt a ‘volunteer assessor’ model and we are looking to pilot a similar approach with those organisations that are either already accredited or are considering applying for our social enterprise accreditations.

It is envisaged that this new scheme would provide training (SEM Certified Assessor Training) to those individuals that wish to become an assessor; they would become a Social Enterprise Mark Accredited Assessor (accredited by us) and then commit to a minimum of one assessment per year.  We would then allocate assessments as they arise.

There are a number of advantages for business in taking part:

  1. It provides an opportunity to benefit other social enterprises (added social/community value for your own business/social enterprise)
  2. Provides rewards and kudos to those taking part in becoming Accredited Assessors (i.e. they would be able to use for CPD and personal development purposes). We would also provide certificates and badges for LinkedIn and other platforms as well as joining a global database of Social Enterprise Mark Accredited Assessors
  3. Gives and insight into good and alternative practice in other social enterprises as well as benchmarking your own practice giving ideas on how to improve
  4. Gives greater insight and understanding for the Mark Holders taking part to enable more effective input and enable greater engagement and insight into the value of the Social Enterprise Mark
  5. Spreads knowledge and good practice more effectively, empowering our Mark holders

It is envisaged that this pilot will run during 2022, with the first step being developing the training course.

If you are interested in this pilot or have names (including contact details) of colleagues that you would like to suggest for this opportunity, please get in contact with Lucy Findlay by the end of January 2022.

Christmas wreath with a yellow bauble in the middle with the Social Enterprise Mark 'approved' logo

Merry Christmas from
Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Merry Christmas from the Social Enterprise Mark CIC team with a photo of the team and Christmas tree animation

We wanted to take this opportunity to wish all our social enterprise community a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2022. It’s been another challenging year but once again we have been inspired by the dedication and commitment of social enterprises across the UK and the world.

We hope you get the opportunity to take a well deserved break over the festive period. To allow our own staff to relax and recharge, we will be closing for the Christmas break from Thursday 23rd December to Monday 3rd January (inclusive). We will respond to all messages as soon as possible on our return in January.

We look forward to working with you in 2022.

Red background with text: 'we are hiring; business administrator (maternity cover)

Join our team!

We have an opportunity for an experienced Business Administrator to support our small team.

This part-time role will be a key part of the team, providing general administrative support across the organisation in areas such as marketing and communications, business development, assessment and finance as required.

We are looking for someone with demonstrable experience of administration or equivalent office experience, e.g. in marketing or sales, with excellent customer service, people skills and a desire to try your hand at new things.

This is a fixed term contract (6 months initially) to cover a period of maternity leave.

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

Closing Date: 15th November 2021

Interviews: 19th November 2021

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:

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 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 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 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


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 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.


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