Posted by: socialtraders | February 5, 2010

Social Enterprise Mark: The Ten Percent Challenge

Congratulations to Lucy Findlay, RISE SW and the SE Mark team for a stunning national launch on 1st February 2010 in Cardiff at Voice10 that I managed to watch live online. Having followed the journey of SE Mark from its early development in 2006 and recommended the Mark to several social enterprises here in Cornwall I am watching with great interest as the impact of the Mark is rolled out nationally over the coming months.

The Social Enterprise Mark has to date been awarded to around 60 social enterprises, mostly in the South West region under the pilot programme. There is estimated to be 5500 social enterprises in the South West region so at present the Mark represents around 1% of the market.

The goal will be for the SE Mark to reach a tipping point both regionally and nationally in order to create momentum and critical mass that brings the reward of public recognition. New Social Enterprise Coalition boss, Peter Holbrook recognises this too in his stated aim of awarding the Mark to ’several thousand social enterprises’ within the next few years.

I would suggest that to achieve any prospect of parity with the highly successful FairTrade brand, the Mark must reach at least 10% of the social enterprise sector – around 6000 social enterprises. This is a daunting prospect for the most optimistic of sales teams so it calls for the sector to support the Mark in every way.

Above all the Mark is about credibility, a badge of approval given to those clearly deserving social enterprises. It’s a celebration of the social enterprise brand – the best of its services and products. Meanwhile we await details of the national roll-out programme and transition to the newly formed company that will take the Social Enterprise Mark forward into the future.

Bob Northey
Director, Social Traders



  1. Hi Bob, I signed the petition and offer this from our founding paper:

    “The P-CED concept is to create new businesses that do things differently from their inception, and perhaps modify existing businesses that want to do it. This business model entails doing exactly the same things by which any business is set up and conducted in the free-market system of economics. The only difference is this: that at least fifty percent of profits go to stimulate a given local economy, instead of going to private hands. In effect, the business would operate in much the same manner as a non-profit organization. The only restrictions are the normal terms and conditions of free-enterprise. If a corporation wants to donate a portion of profits to its local community, it can do so, be it one percent, five percent, or even fifty percent. There is no one to protest or dictate otherwise, except a board of directors and stockholders. This is not a small consideration, since most boards and stockholders would object. But, if an arrangement has been made with said stockholders and directors such that this direction of profits is entirely the point, then no one will object. The corporate charter can require that these monies be directed into community development funds, such as a permanent, irrevocable trust fund. The trust fund, in turn, would be under the oversight of a board of directors made up of employees and community leaders.”

    In 6 years existence as social enterprise I find no other interested in trading. Why do you think that is?


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