Why social enterprise?
Why social enterprise?
What if there were businesses out there that were putting people and planet before profit: supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis, employing and empowering minority groups, reinvesting in their communities, tackling environmental issues and improving health and wellbeing?
You may not know it but you're probably buying products from them, getting fit and healthy with them, enjoying arts and culture with them and getting support or working with them on causes you care about right now.
There are now more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £60 billion to the economy and employing about two million people.
When I started my first social enterprise, Poached Creative, 13 years ago, people thought the vision above was a pipe dream. The movement was tiny, no-one knew what a social enterprise was and the idea that this model of business could be economically viable was met with incredulity. Although Poached Creative closed down after seven years of supporting disadvantaged people into creative careers, the movement continued to go from strength to strength.
The industry body, Social Enterprise UK, says that there are now more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing £60 billion to the economy and employing about two million people. These businesses reinvest or donate at least half their profits towards their social or environmental mission, 72% of them are real Living Wage employers and 84% are buying products and sevices that are socially and environmentally responsible - keeping that good money circulating for good. Not only this, social enterprises have proved more resilient through times of crisis with just 35% reporting a decrease in turnover during the pandemic compared with 58% of other businesses according to the latest State of Social Enterprise Survey.
These businesses reinvest or donate at least half their profits towards their social or environmental mission, 72% of them are real Living Wage employers and 84% are buying products and sevices that are socially and environmentally responsible - keeping that good money circulating for good.
Co-relate became a social enterprise just over a year ago because my co-director Tanya and I wanted to make sure we were contributing back to the community here in Thanet where we've made our homes. Already we've given free support to causes we care about, including Margate Bookie and Plastic Free Thanet and reinvested more than £5000 of our first pot of funding back into the community. See our Margate Bookie Young Producers evaluation report for details.
So, I wanted to use Social Enterprise Day to celebrate the movement and a few of the brilliant social enterprises we've had the privilege of working with so far.
1. Social Enterprise Kent
From running the hugely successful Ageless Thanet programme to supporting the community through COVID-19 and now bringing together support for the cost-of-living crisis, Social Enterprise Kent is the real deal. I loved working with them to celebrate their remarkable work on Ageless Thanet and got a glimpse into the brilliant employment programmes, community support and funding they provide. See their excellent Cost of Living Support directory and wellbeing asset map.
London-based Mediorite makes films that look good and do good. They're embedded in Hackney, providing experience and paid work opportunities for disadvantaged young people to get into film. If you're looking for a film agency to tell your social impact story or make your corporate film, I can't recommend them enough. We began working together more than 10 years ago and we still collaborate now.
3. Rise Up Clean Up
We got involved with Rise Up Clean Up when we were looking to push for Thanet to become a Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Community. They've achieved an incredible amount in a short time, from regular and well-attended beach cleans to TidyPac stations along the seafront, an installation at Margate Station with a strong anti-littering message and the fabulous Rise Up Residency with local artist Louis Masai that has seen 17 murals with themes of ocean conservation and plastic pollution painted on walls around our town. We're now working together on Plastic Free Thanet and Rise Up projects including a water fountain for the main sands.
The message here is really just to support your local social enterprises, because whether you know it or not, they support you! With Christmas just around the corner, here's a Social Enterprise UK gift guide to help with your ethical present buying, Social Enterprise Kent has just launched its own Buy Social Directory and if you sign up to the Plastic Free Thanet newsletter we'll be sharing local ways to have plastic-free and ethical Christmas too.