Global champion of social enterprise standards

The Social Enterprise Mark now has a presence in 10 different countries

Social Enterprise Mark CIC is the world pioneer of social enterprise accreditation, offering the only internationally available social enterprise accreditation.

As well as welcoming applications from social enterprises across the world, Social Enterprise Mark CIC works globally to champion the standard for social enterprise:

  • We work in partnership with international organisations to promote and strengthen the social enterprise business model at a global level.
  • We offer international consultancy services, to advise global counterparts looking to set up equivalent social enterprise accreditation schemes within their own countries.

Lucy Findlay and Rachel Fell at the Social Enterprise World Forum 2019

We are proud to accredit a growing network of international organisations from a number of countries, including:

  • Spain
  • Ireland
  • UAE
  • USA

Map showing organisations accredited by Social Enterprise Mark CIC

International Application Process

Following the approval of C3 as the first international Social Enterprise Mark holder in April 2015, and several subsequent applications, we now have a tried and tested international assessment process that can be applied anywhere in the world.

We are happy to receive applications from organisations based in countries outside the UK, but as we are unable to perform the usual verification actions involved in assessing eligibility for the Social Enterprise Mark, the standard application process cannot be employed.

Assessing an organisations eligibility involves examining matters of company governance that are normally contained with a formal constitution that is subject to public scrutiny, usually subject to some form of legislative jurisdiction. As such arrangements differ according to country of origin, when considering international applicants we remain open to alternative forms of evidence to that which would be common in the UK. However, certain minimum requirements still apply. These, and other types of evidence that an organisation may be able to provide in support of an application for the Mark, are outlined below.

Please note – international applications are subject to a £165 administration fee, in addition to the licence fee, which will be invoiced up front.

In order to conduct an assessment, organisations need to submit details of their constitution or other documents that describe the type of organisation they are, what sort of legal entity and the core operational principles relevant to the way in which they are governed. In the UK, such legal governing documents are registered with a statutory body – most typically an agency called Companies House.

We specifically need this information in order to be able to identify that the following details have been specified within the governing documents:

  1. The social and/or environmental purpose and objectives of the organisation (or how social and/or environmental purposes are being supported through profit distribution)
  2. The ownership/leadership of the organisation and how this is made up (in the UK this is usually defined as members, shareholders, owners, or partners etc, who may also be the Directors of the company or who appoint the Directors of the company)
  3. How any annual profits generated during the course of trading are distributed
  4. What would happen to any residual assets (money and other resources with a cash value) after paying debts, should the organisation ever cease trading and dissolve.

It is important that any documentation an organisations submits has been translated into English, otherwise we will be unable to complete our assessment.

In most cases we will also require an organisation to obtain and independent legal opinion letter from a recognised source, verifying the constitution supplied, along with its registration within the legal jurisdiction of the country of origin (and how this functions).

We may also ask organisations to provide us with details of independent referees, who ideally have international recognition and would be willing to endorse that the applicant is legitimately serving the social purposes defined in their constitution and meeting the Mark criteria. These organisations may be clients or partners and we may follow up matters with them further to corroborate the references provided.

In order to assess annual income (turnover) and what proportion of this derives from trading activities (the sale of goods and/or services, as opposed to income from donations, pure grant awards, investment and loans etc) we require accounts or other financial records that provide full details of this. Ideally speaking, such accounts will also be formally registered with a legislative body (as they would be in the UK with Companies House).

We also require information that illustrates how an organisation is striving to achieve social and/or environmental objectives, what activities show this, the different outputs and impact they have made.

International partnerships

Pioneering social enterprise accreditation in Ireland

In November 2020, we announced a new partnership with Social Impact Ireland to introduce social enterprise accreditation in the Republic of Ireland.

We are working in collaboration to enhance and grow the Irish social enterprise sector through the introduction of the Social Enterprise Mark and Aspiring Social Enterprise accreditation standard. Social Impact Ireland have initially conducted a pilot project to support a number of social enterprises through the process of applying for accreditation from Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

The Social Enterprise Mark was officially launched at an online event on Social Enterprise Day 2020 and the inaugural applicants were awarded with their accreditation at a special ceremony in Dublin in November 2022.

Middle East collaboration agreement

In September 2020, we announced 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.

C3 was our pilot international applicant and became the first organisation outside the UK to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in April 2015. As our representative, 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.

Photo of Medea Nocentini with a quote text overlay: “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.”

Photo of Lucy Findlay with text quote overlay: “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.”

Interested in becoming an international partner?

We are always looking for the right partners to increase our international reach.

If you are well networked with the social enterprise community in your country and would like to express an interest in setting up a Social Enterprise Mark licensing agreement, please call us +44 345 504 6535, email us, or complete our short online enquiry form.

International Consultancy

Around the world, Social Enterprise Mark CIC champions the standard for social enterprise. We offer international consultancy services, to advise global counterparts looking to set up equivalent social enterprise accreditation schemes within their own countries.

British CouncilWe have worked with a range of international organisations, including the British Council, to help influence the international destiny of social enterprise, using our experience of setting up the first internationally available social enterprise accreditation.

We have been approached by countries including Russia, Australia, France, Finland, and Thailand to provide advice and guidance on developing social enterprise accreditation schemes.

  • In March 2016, we were approached by the British Council and invited to China to advise on the development of a Chinese social enterprise accreditation system
  • In 2015, we were commissioned by Fund Our Future in Russia, to develop a manual/guidelines for setting up a social enterprise accreditation scheme

The consultancy service we offer provides advice and guidance on:

  • Governance
  • Business models
  • Sales and marketing
  • Operational management and customer support
  • Assessment
  • Product development
  • Partnerships

Get in touch

If you would like to enquire about our international consultancy services, please call +44 345 504 6535, email us, or complete our online enquiry form. A member of our professional and friendly team will be happy to help.

As the only internationally social enterprise accreditation authority, Social Enterprise Mark CIC has been invited to events in a number of countries, to speak about the social enterprise movement in the UK and how the Social Enterprise Mark was developed to help organisations to prove their social impact.

ChinaClick here to read Richard’s blog post about his visit to China in March 2016, where he was invited by the British Council to talk about the development of the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation system.

Richard in ChinaRichard in China_workshop

TaiwanClick here to read Lucy’s blog post about her visit to the International Social Enterprise Conference in Taiwan in September 2015.

International Social Enterprise Conference Taiwan 2015

International Projects

SocialUP; Design Thinking for Social Enterprises


We were excited to be involved in this EU co-funded project (2016-2018), which aimed to improve the sustainability, social impact and scalability of social enterprises, to enable them to achieve their societal mission in a financially viable manner.

The Social UP project embeds a design thinking culture, to support social enterprises to scale up their operations. In cooperation with design thinking experts and social entrepreneurs from across Europe, a design thinking-based training handbook was produced, which provides tools to support and motivate design thinking within social enterprises in order to grow, scale–up and prosper.

Social UP partners included social enterprise support organisations from Greece, Finland, Spain, and Cyprus.

Social UP project partnersSocial UP workshop 2018

Euclid PeerEx peer learning project

Euclid PeerEx

In 2018/19 Lucy was excited to take part in this peer exchange with social enterprise counterparts from Russia.

Organised by the Euclid Network, the PeerEx UK/Russia project aims to build the entrepreneurial capacity of NGO leaders in Russia, by drawing on successful experiences of UK organisations. This should enable Russian NGOs to improve their financial sustainability and as a result, to achieve greater positive impact.

This is the latest in a series of peer exchange projects, which contribute to strengthening democracy by empowering civil society organisations through peer learning and exchanges with counterparts from across Europe.

Euclid PeerEx project group