THE social enterprise movement is continuing to gather pace, with more than one million people now employed in the sector, according to a new report.
The biennial State of Social Enterprise Survey also revealed that some 70,000 social ventures are now contributing more than £24billion to the UK economy, and showed that the concept of doing business differently is outperforming traditional SMEs in areas of diversity, start-up rates, innovation, and pay.
The report – commissioned by Social Enterprise UK and supported by Santander UK – is the most rigorous and representative of its kind, and comes just weeks ahead of Social Saturday on October 14, a day when the spotlight will again be shined on a sector that is having an ever-increasing impact on the City.
Speaking as the report’s findings were made, chairman of Social Enterprise UK, Lord Victor Adebowale said social ventures were showing the way forward:
“These are credible businesses, competing in the open market but set up in a way that addresses some of the biggest issues we face.
From homelessness and substance abuse to mental health and social care, social enterprises are working on the front-line, creating opportunities and reducing inequalities. They are showing traditional businesses how social impact and profit can go hand in hand.
If we’re to meet the challenges and uncertainties of the coming years, we should look to the social enterprise model for inspiration and guidance on how we can create an economy that works for everyone.”
According to the report, published on 21 September, social enterprises are outperforming mainstream businesses in growth and innovation.
Nearly half (47%) grew their turnover in the last year compared with 34% of SMEs, while 50% have introduced a new product or service in the last 12 months. This figure has fallen to 33% amongst traditional SMEs.
Furthermore, 25% of social enterprises are also under three years old, showing that now more than ever businesses are being set up explicitly to meet social or environmental challenges.
Sue Douthwaite, managing director of Santander Business Banking, said her organisation was proud to be supporting the movement.
“It shows the important contribution social enterprises are making to society and the increasingly vital role they play in building more resilient communities and a fairer economy.
“It has never been more important to invest in and support these businesses which are creating jobs, opening up new opportunities, and building a more prosperous future for us all.”
Social Saturday is making its return on 14 October, for more information on how you can get involved go online to socialenterprise.org.uk