Social enterprises – organisations that use business means to provide social and environmental benefit – are set to receive a boost from the corporate world

The Buy Social Corporate Challenge will support several high-profile UK businesses, including Johnson & Johnson, Santander and PwC, in making use of goods and services from the social enterprise sector.

Around £1bn could be channelled into the sector by 2020 thanks to the scheme, led by Social Enterprise UK in partnership with the Cabinet Office and responsible business network Business in the Community.

Chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, Peter Holbrook, said: “Social enterprises are ideal supply chain material, giving businesses the opportunity to be a force for good in their communities.” Holbrook is hopeful that the fund will particularly help cash-strapped public services.

There are about 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £24bn to the economy and employing nearly a million people.

Jessica Smith, director of social enterprise Poached Creative, which has worked with several of the founding challenge partners, said the scheme was “a clear acknowledgement that buying from social enterprise makes good business sense.

Image: Claire Dove, chair of Social Enterprise UK, at the launch of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge. Credit: Social Enterprise UK