There’s not a lot of good news about these days. We constantly hear of the increase in cost of living and the threat of rising interest rates, not to mention the number of sectors which are on or about to go on strike across Northern Ireland and the UK. Let’s not underestimate that these are challenging times for anyone trying to run a business never mind managing a social enterprise.
What is a social enterprise you might say? Well simply put they are businesses, yes businesses and therefore face the same challenges as any other SME faces in the current environment. Add to that the difficulty in employing staff along with the heavy cloud of the loss of European Social Fund (ESF) funding which hangs over the sector with only 3 months remaining to find a true replacement.
But why are social enterprises deserving of your support? Why do they deserve to be the beneficiaries of your spending not only at Christmas but all year round?
Well let’s look at it from the perspective of a social enterprise. As far as they are concerned, they strive to be financially sustainable businesses, 100% focused on creating and solving social and environmental challenges, generating income for disadvantaged groups of individuals. A social enterprise harnesses the power of the business model to scale its impact. By its nature, social enterprises do not trade for personal benefit. No dividends are paid to individual shareholders, rather surplus funds, or profit, are reinvested back into the social mission for which the organisation was formed. So, the more businesses and individuals that purchase goods and services from them the more sustainable they will be.
But why does that matter?
Well by including social enterprises in your supply chain you will be purchasing #giftswithpurpose and helping generate #profitwithpurpose. The profits of a social enterprise will help their social mission and provide the means to support and employ individuals who may find it difficult to get employment elsewhere. But why is that important and why should we be concerned about that? By social enterprises bringing these individuals into work, they keep them out of the doctors’ surgeries. They keep them away from specialised educational establishments, so rather than adding to public sector expenditure, social enterprises, by employing such individuals, enable them to attract a wage which makes them a payer of tax and National Insurance and hence a net contributor to the public finances. There are many of examples of this across many different industries across NI.
But that aside why should a private or public sector body even consider introducing social enterprises into their supply chains? if businesses need to spend money on products and services, why not spend that money in a way that maximises their positive impact on society? Social enterprises demonstrate a better way to do business, one that prioritises benefit to people and planet and uses their profit to further increase their social impact. Social enterprises contribute to reducing economic inequality, improving social justice and to environmental sustainability.
This Christmas, either for yourself or for your organisation, why not consider the benefits on society and the real impact that you can make by changing how you purchase your presents and help sustain businesses which are making a real difference to those most in need. Every purchase your organisation makes is an opportunity to create social value. By bringing social enterprises into your supply chain, you can make a direct investment into supporting local communities. Help to establish this growing and developing sector at the heart of the Northern Ireland economy by helping create #profitwithpurpose.
And remember Social Enterprise is not just for Christmas! It is for all year round.
Have a great Christmas and New Year and see you all in 2023