Global champion of social enterprise standards

Social Enterprise Mark CIC offers the only internationally available social enterprise accreditation, providing an independent guarantee of credible social enterprises’ commitment to creating benefits for people and planet.

We are seeing a growing interest in social enterprise at a global level, and it seems that the UK is acknowledged as a pioneer in this model of business and Social Enterprise Mark CIC are the world pioneers of 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 offer international consultancy services, to advise global counterparts looking to set up equivalent social enterprise accreditation schemes within their own countries.




Social Enterprise Gold Mark

We are looking to expand our unique gold standard social enterprise accreditation at an international level.

Please contact us if you are interested in taking part in a pilot.


We are proud to have a growing network of international Social Enterprise Mark holders:

Please click on the buttons below to find out more about these pioneering international Mark Holders.


Map of accredited social enterprises






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.

Constitutional documents

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).


Referees

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.


Other criteria

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 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

SocialUP; Design Thinking for Social Enterprises

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We are excited to be involved in this new EU co-funded project, which aims 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 will embed 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 will be produced, which will provide tools to support and motivate design thinking within social enterprises in order to grow, scale–up and prosper.

Social UP is being led by DesignThinkers UK, and partners include social enterprise support organisations from Greece, Finland, Spain, and Cyprus.


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.

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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.