Going global with social enterprise accreditation

Following on from my post in September, looking at how the Social Enterprise Mark differs from other accreditation/certification schemes, it occurred to me that a key differentiator for us is the international aspect.

The Social Enterprise Mark is the only internationally available social enterprise accreditation, enabling credible social enterprises to prove that they are making a difference.

Following the approval of Middle-East based C3 as the first international Mark Holder in April, we are delighted to have recently awarded our second international Social Enterprise Mark to FLOCERT, the global certification body for Fairtrade labelled products.

FLOCERT is dedicated to strengthening the development of fair international trade, and since 2003 has supported the phenomenal growth of Fairtrade, a movement that’s had a positive impact on millions of smallholder farmers and workers in developing countries.

People_Rudiger_FLOCERTRüdiger Meyer, CEO of FLOCERT said:

“Based on its deep roots in the Fairtrade network, FLOCERT has always regarded itself as a ‘social business‘, which is not focused on making profit. Instead, we aim at covering our cost and providing the resources needed to continuously improve the services and systems for the benefit of our customers, representing 1.5 million farmers and workers, as well as traders and multi-national brands.

Applying for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation was therefore a natural step for us. We found the accreditation process very smooth and the co-operation with the people at the Social Enterprise Mark CIC highly inspiring. With this accreditation we can now show that we truly are a “Social Enterprise” and that we fulfil the expectation of our customers to make an impact in our drive to advance fairness in global trade and to advance farmers and workers in developing countries.”

From our experience of assessing and accrediting these organisations, we have now developed a tried and tested international assessment process that can be applied anywhere in the world.

“We are happy to receive applications from organisations based in countries outside the UK, and now have an internationally applicable assessment process. Although it is inherently more complicated for international applications, I was very impressed with how efficient FLOCERT were with responding to our questions and information/evidence requests. From our perspective it made assessing and approving their application a very straightforward process” says our Assessment and Compliance Manager Richard Cobbett.

As we are unable to perform the usual verification actions involved in assessing eligibility for the Social Enterprise Mark, the standard application process cannot be employed.  Please click here for more information about requirements for international applicants.

An interesting comment that jumped out at me from our recent stakeholder survey was that we need to be “the global centre of social enterprise”. It then occurred to me that we could better promote the international aspect of our work, not just by attracting more international applicants, but by championing the global standard for social enterprise through consultancy for international counterparts.

3V1A9801As featured in my last blog post, I recently travelled to Taiwan to speak at the International Social Enterprise Conference, where I shared our experience of setting up a social enterprise accreditation scheme. We also did some consultancy work this year for Fund Our Future in Russia, and developed a manual with guidelines for setting up an equivalent accreditation scheme for social enterprises in Russia.

We welcome the opportunity to work with counterparts around the world looking to develop country-specific social enterprise accreditation schemes – please click here for for more information on our international consultancy service.

I am delighted to welcome FLOCERT as our second international Social Enterprise Mark holder and we look forward to welcoming many more international applicants in the future.