Co-op presence felt on the new top 100 list for social enterprise

Communities for Renewables, Homebaked, Shared Interest Society and GLL are among the organisations listed

A new survey of the top 100 UK social enterprises includes a number of co-ops – and reveals the sector was enjoying impressive growth rate before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

This year’s NatWest SE100 Index, compiled by Pioneers Post in partnership with NatWest Social & Community Capital, unveils 25 newcomers to the sector – all of which began trading in the past three years. These posted an average year-on-year growth in profits of 243%, with an average profit of £7,300.

For the more established social businesses, average revenue growth was 39%, while the average profit was £151,000.

Co-ops on the list include Homebaked, a community land trust and co-operative bakery in Liverpool. The project is co-owned and co-produced by people who live and work in the Everton and Anfield area. Having saved their neighbourhood bakery from demolition and developed it into a community-run business, the team now want to regenerate their high street ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’, using money that is spent in the neighbourhood to benefit our communities.

Also featured is the Shared Interest Society, an ethical investment co-op which lends to fair trade businesses around the world. It works with over 11,500 investors, pooling £44m to provide loans and credit facilities to fair trade businesses, to ensure that farmers are paid on time for their crops.

Communities for Renewables, which helps communities to set up local energy enterprises and works with them to develop, finance and manage their own renewable energy generation.

Greenwich Leisure (GLL) a staff led ‘leisure trust’, structured as an Industrial and Provident Society, manages over 30 public leisure centres within the M25 area in partnership with five London Boroughs and Epsom & Ewell Council.

Applicants to the NatWest SE100 were asked to complete a comprehensive survey exploring key aspects of their business performance: from turnover, growth and profit to leadership, resilience and storytelling.

The survey revealed increased attention in the sector to social impact. Ben Carpenter, CEO of Social Value UK, which advises on the impact aspects of the SE100, told Pioneers Post: “It’s heartening to see that impact management is becoming a growing focus for the UK’s leading social enterprises, as revealed in the SE100 Index.

“I am also particularly encouraged that the UK’s best start-up social businesses – with so many things to focus on to get up and running – are recognising that impact systems and processes must be a key priority early on, and not just a ’nice to have’ that they should think about only once the business has matured.”

Megan Peat, CEO of NatWest Social & Community Capital, said: “Congratulations to all the social enterprises who have made it onto this year’s lists. In such incredibly tough times, when we know many of you will be facing some significant challenges, it’s important to recognise the incredible dedication and effort that the UK’s social enterprises have shown in building business solutions to deliver a positive future for some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.”

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