The social business sector in Wales is worth £2.37bn to the Welsh economy and is supporting around 40,800 jobs, according to new data published by Social Business Wales.
It also offers opportunities to volunteer to approximately 48,000 – 58,000 people.
The Mapping the Social Business Sector in Wales report identified 1,698 organisations as operating in the social business sector in Wales, including co-operatives, mutuals, social enterprises and employee owned businesses.
The report is based on survey data from 810 organisations (48% of the sector), and found that social businesses are found in areas of social deprivation, where they support communities, offer jobs and training and often provide services that the public and private sectors would struggle to maintain.
The survey also revealed that social businesses are often driven by social or environmental aims; in Wales, a large number of these are focused on improving a particular community or improving health and well-being
“There is clear evidence of a growing, increasingly confident and entrepreneurial social business sector in Wales that is built upon strengthening foundations,” said Glenn Bowen, director of enterprise at the Wales Co-operative Centre.
“The report suggests that the sector has experienced real growth in the two years since the last in-depth research was carried out. It offers a snapshot of a sector that is dynamic and responsive and is constantly looking to evolve and offer new products and services.”
According to the report, 84% of social businesses attracted new customers or clients in the last 12 months, while 24% attracted investment to expand during the same period; 69% of social businesses expecting turnover to increase over the next two to three years.
Social Business Wales is an £11m European Regional Development and Welsh government funded project, which is part of the Business Wales family, and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre.
“Importantly [the sector] provides crucial services in our communities, plugging gaps in private and public sector provision and helping to improve educational attainment, provide social care in people’s houses and reduce inequality, particularly in our most deprived communities,” said economy secretary Ken Skates.
“As a government we are committed to working closely with social businesses to help them to thrive and grow. This commitment will be central to delivery of our four cross cutting governmental strategies due to be published shortly and our new social enterprise framework which we plan to publish later this year.”