Our network has a growing membership of social enterprises, all of who trade in a way which benefits society and the environment.
Social enterprises have a lot to offer, and we've designed the directory to enable different interested parties access information more easily about our network members:-
We hope the directory will encourage network members to trade with one another, reinvesting money in the social economy and building linkages and relationships across the network
For trading purposes you can find organisations who supply to other third sector organisations by locating customer search and clicking on third sector.
Or you may be interested to locate organisations of a similar type to your own: if so search by Enterprise Type
Why Buy from social enterprises?
Consumers have grown increasingly aware of purchasing power, and the success of the symbols such as "fair trade" is a testament to a growing desire to buy ethically.
Social enterprises who sell products and services to the general public, give consumers the opportunity to support people, local communities and the environment in the following ways:-
- The primary motivation of a social enterprise is not profit it itself, but benefiting people, and / or the environment, so by purchasing from them you know your money will be channeled into making a positive social / environmental impact.
- Community based enterprises work to stimulate local economies by trading and reinvesting in local communities. Instead of your money leaking out of the area, surpluses in a social enterprise are reinvested in the organisation or the community, so wealth and benefit are generated locally.
- Social enterprises are "people focused" and many provide meaningful and appropriate employment for individuals who are likely to find it difficult to access such job opportunities – for example the long term unemployed, or people with disabilities.
To search for social enterprises who sell goods and services to the public, search organisations by customer, and select General Public.
if you're looking for a specific service, search product
Awareness is growing of the added value generated by investing in, and trading with the social economy, and how this can contribute to regeneration. employment creation, local economic development and social welfare. From a public sector perspective, social enterprises have an advantage in that they can deliver services which are responsive and locally appropriate and based on the needs of service users.
Where a social enterprise has audited social accounts (see quality / impact in individual entries) this is an externally verified means of demonstrating how the organisation has measured its social, environmental and economic impact.
Many local authorities are now opening up to the idea of third sector service delivery, and for those who are looking for social enterprises who supply products and services to the public sector, we suggest you search by customer and click on "Public sector".
For more specific products and services, use product search
private companies have a lot to gain by working with social enterprise, and recent work undertaken by Community Action Network has demonstrated that such collaborations provide the following opportunities for the private sector:-
- Present new business opportunities they could not realise without the social enterprise partner
- Provide access to new markets, and supply lines, expertise or services they cannot find elsewhere
- Allow the business to pursue both contracts and major project funding that would not otherwise be available to them
- Offer access to and knowledge of a particular community
- Have a unique skill or expertise in specialist areas
- Provide solutions to specific business problems
- Help to enhance staff morale though involvement in the partnership
- Enable them to form a strategic alliance with a social enterprise partner who can ‘speak the language’ of the market or communities they are trying to reach
- Offer potential CSR spin-offs.
Or if you are looking for a social enterprise operating in a particular area, view the social enterprise map.