Social enterprises are businesses – including co-operatives – that ‘put people and planet first’, and Social Saturday is the annual celebration of these organisations, held to raise awareness and inspire consumers to buy from them.
The first Social Saturday, organised by Social Enterprise UK, took place in 2014, and since then awareness of social enterprise among the general public has risen from 37% to 51%. The annual event is supported by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport and in 2017 is sponsored by the Co-op Group.
“Social enterprises are using the power of business as a force for good,” says Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK. “Through where they work, who they employ and how they operate, they are creating jobs for those who need them most such as the long-term unemployed or the homeless. They’re protecting our environment and rejuvenating our communities.”
Social enterprises reinvest their profits back into their social mission, and the event aims to focus on the work different UK social enterprises are doing across the country.
“The best way to support social enterprises is to buy from them,” adds Mr Holbrook. “This year we’re asking consumers to swap their purchases for social enterprise ones, be that coffee, socks, sofas, chocolates, jewellery or even changing where your get you bike fixed. Whatever you’re after, chances are there’ll be a social enterprise supplier out there – you may be making one small change, but it will have one big impact.”
The campaign is being supported by actor Michael Sheen, a patron of Social Enterprise UK, who features in the campaign’s 2017 video. “We have a choice about where we spend our money and how that money gets used,” he says. “We can choose to support social enterprises which make a difference on issues that matter to us.”
Last year’s Social Saturday campaign reached 47.3 million people globally, and this year will build on that through short films, media campaigns, a dedicated microsite and a range of events across the country.
According to Steve Murrells, Co-op Group CEO, the retailer is supporting the campaign as “it’s a great way to let people know there’s a different way of doing business that meet the needs and expectations of consumers today”.
“The Co-op was created back in 1844 with a set of values and principles that serve a social purpose,” he says. “This difference is something we know our members value and increasingly see as being relevant both to themselves and within their communities, but also in addressing issues that our country faces today.”
Lord Victor Adebowale, Co-op Group director and chair of Social Enterprise UK, believes consumers have a right to know about the choices available to them when making purchases. “By choosing to support social enterprises people can use their money to make a difference to communities that are important to them,” he says. “Social Saturday aims to inform consumers of this choice.”
Fri 13th Oct: Norwich (Your own place Cic)
Local and not so local social entrepreneurs will be joining a cross-sector group of enthusiasts to hear about the impact of social enterprises, and how they can work together to make best use of the Social Value Act in communities and promote social enterprise locally.
Fri 13th Oct: Hey Good Spender – Social Marketplace at the Trampery (London, from 4pm)
The Trampery Old Street will be hosting a one-of-a-kind event to inspire shoppers to buy from other social enterprises. There will be 15+ stalls selling clothing, accessories, homeware and more. Ethical drinks and nibbles will be served.
Sat 14th October: Social Enterprise Pop Up Market and Cookery Demonstration (Borough Market, London)
Borough Market will host a pop-up social enterprise stall, plus cookery demonstration from social enterprise restaurant, Brigade, and speeches throughout the day by social entrepreneurs.
Sat 14th October: Social Enterprises in the Marketplace (Coventry, 10am-4pm)
Coventry achieved Social Enterprise Place status in November 2016 – and to celebrate, it is co-hosting a ‘market place’ within one of its newest social enterprises, Coventry Priory, where social enterprises can sell their goods and services to the public.