Image for Social enterprises outperform traditional business, says new research

Social enterprises outperform traditional business, says new research

The new report demonstrates the strength of social businesses, just as Social Enterprise UK launched a celebrity-backed campaign to get consumers supporting brands with purpose

The new report demonstrates the strength of social businesses, just as Social Enterprise UK launched a celebrity-backed campaign to get consumers supporting brands with purpose

Social enterprises are outperforming traditional businesses in the UK on turnover growth and when it comes to tackling structural inequality, according to new research.

According to the figures, 52 per cent of social enterprises grew their turnover in the last 12 months despite Brexit uncertainty, compared with 34 per cent of SMEs.

The numbers also show that social enterprises are more forward thinking when it comes to environmental and social concerns than traditional businesses. Some 75 per cent of social enterprises view the environment as being of equal or more importance to cost when it comes to procurement decisions, versus 24 per cent of SME owners. Meanwhile 40 per cent of social enterprises are led by women (compared to 17 per cent of SMEs) and 13 per cent are led by people of colour, compared to 5 per cent of SMEs.

The figures are the findings of a new report by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), the body that represents the UK’s social enterprises. The news comes alongside a campaign by SEUK to encourage consumers to support social businesses that put people and purpose over profit.

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The “Buy social for a better world” campaign runs this week, 7-12 October, aiming to celebrate the UK’s 100,000 social enterprises. Social enterprises in the UK help tackle a wide range of social and environmental issues, from homelessness and mental heath care to global food waste. Collectively, they create most products we might use throughout a normal day, from our morning cup of coffee, to soaps and personal care products, to clothes and accessories.

The campaign is being supported by Co-op, which stocks a number of social brands at its stores, as well as famous names including actor Michael Sheen and journalist Caitlin Moran, who have lent their support to get consumers creating a positive impact through their everyday spending.

Sheen and Moran, along with writer Sali Hughes and comedian Chris Addison, will be delivering the campaign’s message via augmented reality – appearing on selected products to tell customers about the positive impact of the brand.

For example, scanning the “Buy social” badge on the packaging of Brewgooder beers with an augmented reality app will make Addison appear to explain how buying the beer here in the UK will support clean water projects in Africa.

It’s a simple yet revolutionary concept – that businesses can be set up to actively help build a better world

“It’s a simple yet revolutionary concept – that businesses can be set up to actively help build a better world, and that profits can be used for a social purpose,” said Addison. “But social enterprises can only continue to do their incredible work if we choose to buy from them.”

Speaking about the findings of SEUK’s report, chief executive Peter Holbrook said: “How we do business is the heart of the problem. You cannot save capitalism without changing business. Changing company law, our tax system and investment markets are critical if we are to transition to a better form of business.

“If we embrace reform, we can resolve this crisis and build a new economy which spreads growth fairly across society, protects our planet and boosts the UK’s global competitiveness.”

To find out how you can support the campaign, visit the Social Enterprise UK website.

Image: Michael Sheen, Caitlin Moran, Sali Hughes and Chris Addison, photographed by Social Enterprise UK

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