Social procurement: why using social enterprises in your supply chain improves the third sector

Posted in: Blog, Social Procurement.

Man in glasses drawing on a piece of paper whilst sitting in front of a laptop

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about the importance of organisations from all sectors considering social procurement when purchasing goods and services and setting up their supplier bases. But why should third sector organisations purchase goods and services from other third sector organisations, and how does this help strengthen the sector? Our Interim Business Delivery Team Lead Roddy Stewart explains how.

In the public sector, the Scottish Government introduced the Sustainable Procurement Duty which requires public bodies to consider and act on opportunities to achieve a positive social impact in their procurement activity and now companies working for the UK government need to think more seriously about their social impact.

We are also seeing some large private sector organisations recognising the value and importance of incorporating social enterprises into their supply chain, such as Crieff Hydro, PwC and Morrison Construction via the Buy Social Scotland Corporate Challenge – https://www.buysocialscotland.com/business/corporate-challenge.

So why is this important for the third sector? Well, our sector is uniquely well placed to deliver social value. In fact, social impact is our core purpose; it’s written into mission statements and our governing documents, it’s what we do daily through our own activities. This is what public and private sector buyers are tapping into.

However, we should be taking this a step further. Collectively, as third sector suppliers, we should set up our own purchasing processes, enabling us to better engage with other third sector organisations. This would allow us to go beyond Corporate Social Responsibility statements and encourage organisations to use their spending power in positive ways.

Maximising the positive impact of social enterprise and third sector businesses by making them part of your supply chain

The main reason for doing this is intuitive: as mission focused, ethical organisations it makes sense that we would want to work with organisations that share our values and principles, but there are other reasons as well.

By purchasing from third sector organisations, we are supporting them to deliver their social missions: that’s more money going into supporting disadvantaged people, creating jobs, addressing financial exclusion, improving community health and wellbeing, and protecting the environment, to name but a few areas.

We are also contributing to diversity when it comes to the workforce as the third sector is more diverse and more representative of the wider population than traditional SME suppliers. Switching suppliers means we can use procurement to reduce inequalities.

Finally, by spending within the sector we will be supporting the sustainability of other third sector organisations by providing alternative income streams in these difficult times.

The idea is simple – if we need to spend money on products and services, why not spend that money in a way that maximises the positive impact on our society? By purchasing from other third sector organisations, we empower communities, create opportunities for vulnerable people and we can support our transition to a fairer, more equal society.

If you’re an organisation that’s looking to identify social enterprise and third sector supply chain opportunities or are even looking at ways you can track and report on your current social enterprise and third sector spend, we can help. Every year we commit to ensuring 75% of our expenditure is with third sector suppliers, so we know exactly what to do to help other organisations achieve success in this area.

Our mission is about making Scotland a better place to live and work with a more inclusive economy, so get in touch today if you need help with social procurement.

About Roddy

Roddy Stewart is our Interim Business Delivery Team Leader. He has been with CEIS since 2009 and has extensive expertise on social procurement. A qualified accountant, Roddy currently specialises in providing business planning and finance support to social enterprises in the recycling, regeneration, and community transport sectors. In addition, Roddy advises clients on how to access public sector procurement opportunities and how to write effective tenders. He also supports public sector procurement agencies with the development of community benefit clauses.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.



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