Progressive initiatives putting social value at the heart of the supply chain will make UK business a force for good, according to an expert from the University of Gloucestershire.
Rod Horrocks, project manager for the university’s The Growth Hub, says many supply chains are ripe for ‘disruptive innovation’ that delivers social value. He cites Gloucestershire-based Commercial Foundation’s activity in the print sector as an example.
Commercial Foundation is a social enterprise set up by business services specialist Commercial. It empowers disadvantaged young people to change their lives through development of personal and professional skills. Participants experience a real work environment – We Do. Print – while taking part in a structured training, mentoring and support programme.
We Do. Print is a safe work environment for the young people to develop their skills, and it offers business print buyers a low-risk opportunity to ‘buy social’. Its customer portfolio includes large brands, such as Mears and Kier Group. And Commercial Foundation’s social value ROI has been independently verified at £4.86 per £1. So, every £100 spent at We Do. Print generates a social value equivalent of £486.
“Commercial Foundation has zoned in on an established element of the supply chain and elevated it to an entirely new level,” Horrocks explains. “We Do. Print provides an ideal environment to boost the employability of people that have experienced tough times and found themselves caught in a negative cycle. It also enables businesses to boost their social value credentials simply by adapting their procurement habits.
“The UK print industry is worth £13.5bn. Imagine how society would benefit if just ten per cent of this could be met via social enterprises. There is a rising tide of businesses large and small that want to make a tangible, positive impact through day-to-day activities. We need more social enterprises like Commercial Foundation to challenge the status quo and unlock new opportunities for business to become synonymous with social value.”