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Social enterprises can join the mainstream but need more support from Government and business to get there

15 May 2012

Social enterprises are already evidencing their potential to compete alongside conventional businesses and deliver high impact economic and social benefit, according to Deloitte, the business advisory firm.  However, the sector needs significant support from British business and Government to fulfil their growth potential, including preparing for, and securing, external investment.  

The findings are a result of interviews Deloitte conducted with its Social Innovation Pioneers, a scheme launched this year to identify 30 of the most socially innovative businesses in the UK and support their growth potential.  Whilst the Pioneers are optimistic about the future of one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, there is frustration amongst these businesses about barriers to playing a bigger role in the mainstream economy.  There are currently around 62,000 social enterprises in the UK in a market worth £24bn.

The Pioneers identified five important areas where they require tailored support:

  • Help to develop and implement growth strategies;
  • Financial advice and preparation for external investment;
  • Branding, marketing and customer strategy to target new customer segments;
  • Development of processes to drive efficiency in delivery, and
  • Mentoring, leadership training and human resources expertise.

Duncan Goose, CEO of Global Ethics, which produce consumer goods under the ‘One’ brand, and a Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneer, said:  “One of the reasons social enterprises haven’t been able to reach their full potential is because help, advice and investment isn’t readily available for established social business that want to grow their business further.  Social enterprises make a valuable contribution to society.  Investment and support from larger companies, who are truly prepared to step away from the norms of charity or business models, would not only help them increase their social impact, but would also help these businesses to break into the mainstream.”

Speaking at the first Pioneers workshop and launch event today, Heather Hancock, managing partner for talent and brand at Deloitte, said: “We are excited about the potential this sector has already demonstrated, and what it is capable of for the future.  It is very important for the UK business community to recognise the impact that social enterprises can have and embrace them as part of the business community.  There are many benefits to be gained – we’ve seen the innovation generated from social enterprises, their positive contribution in the supply chain and in service delivery, and they are demonstrable evidence that business is and continues to be a force for good.  Our research shows that CEOs across all sectors measure their business impact by more than just profit and want their organisations to be part of shaping a better society.  Working with social enterprises can be a valuable part of this commitment.”

Deloitte’s Social Innovation Pioneers programme provides over £1.5m of tailored support to the group of 30 social businesses identified as leaders in this sector.  The support includes a relationship team to support each Pioneer with bespoke mentoring and guidance from senior advisers who specialise in a specific market area or growth challenge.  In addition, there is a programme of briefings and workshops on common issues such as investment readiness and leadership: Social Enterprise UK, Big Issue Invest, London Business School, Wavelength and Matter & Co.  The 30 Pioneers come from across the UK and a variety of sectors and have revenues ranging from £125,000 to £26m, with a total of almost £80 million.

Goose added: “To be considered a pioneer of social innovation by Deloitte is a huge honour and the team are excited about all the opportunities it will present as the partnership develops.  With our vision and ambitious goals, and their support and guidance I truly believe we will effect faster and larger social change.”

Deloitte’s 30 Social Innovation Pioneers are:

Autism Works Blue Sky
Brighter Future Workshop                        Buddy Enterprises
Capital Conflict Management                     Clarity
Clean Close Company                              Connection Crew
Cool2Care Derbyshire Health United
Elvis & Kresse                                        East End Fair Finance
East Lancashire Moneyline                        Furniture Resource Centre Ltd
Global Ethics/ The One Foundation             Gnewt Cargo Ltd
Hub Commercial Venture                          My Home Finance Ltd
My Time CIC                                          On Purpose
Pants To Poverty                                    Project Dirt Ltd
Reprezent 107.3fm                                 Spice Innovations Ltd
The Amazings                                        The Avenues Trust Group
The Brightside Trust                                The Phone Co-op
The TREES Group                                   WildHearts In Action


For more information on the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers programme, please visit:


Notes to editors
Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers will showcase 30 socially innovative businesses from across the UK and provide them with a package of support to help them mainstream, go to scale and become investment-ready.  This programme forms part of our wider responsible business agenda and our continuing positioning around innovation and entrepreneurship. We want to develop our skills and expertise by partnering with leading social businesses and social business experts, and also give our people the opportunity to get involved in this growing sector.

Thanks to our programme partners:
Social Enterprise UK, Big Issue Invest, London Business School, Matter & Co, Wavelength.

And support partners:
UNLtd, CAF Venturesome, Nexters and Business In The Community.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities.

Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Media contacts

Zoe Cooper
Deloitte LLP
Job Title:
+44 (0) 20 7007 4216

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