Companies look to learn from social enterprises, as new research reveals they outperform traditional businesses

November 04, 2019

Social enterprises are outperforming traditional businesses in the UK on turnover growth, and when it comes to tackling structural inequality, according to new research by Social Enterprise UK, the largest network of social enterprises in the UK. A social enterprise is a commercial organisation which reinvests or donates its profits to a social or environmental mission. According to the figures, 52% of UK social enterprises grew their turnover in the last 12 months, compared with 34% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Through Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge, 20 major businesses are looking to benefit from the social and commercial value of supporting social enterprise through their supply chains, people and networks. Partners to the Challenge include major financial services firms such as Zurich, Santander and Nationwide, as well as consumer product companies including Johnson & Johnson and Motorola.

While many boards may not have even discussed the merits of social enterprise business models, this study from Social Enterprise UK underlines the value for companies that partner with social enterprises. Large, well established businesses have an opportunity to learn from how social enterprises integrate a social or environmental mission into their core business, and to partner and collaborate with social enterprises for social value objectives. For companies learning towards a more socially responsible or  mission-led operating model, partnership with social enterprises throughout the supply chain is a great place to start.