Today’s ecological and social challenges and increasing awareness of these issues are heightening consumer preferences for environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. Increasing social and legislative pressures also urge an increasing number of companies to firmly integrate sustainability into their business strategies to keep their social license to operate. Social procurement – buying products and services from social enterprises that put impact first – is increasingly considered to be an enabling key driver for social innovation and increasing sustainability meaningfully. It allows businesses to source the goods and services they need in any way, while bringing innovation, diversity and sustainability into their supply chains. Meanwhile, social entrepreneurs benefit from not just scaling their own business, but also the impact they are making too.
The topic is also high on the EU agenda. Social procurement is highlighted in the EU Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP) and the Transition Pathway as a key driver for the transition to a more inclusive, just and green economy. For this reason, the European Commission (EC) launched a call for proposals, as part of the Single Market Programme (SMP/SME Pillar), to support and accelerate European and local B2B social procurement markets to be further developed by existing key actors in the market. One of the 5 awarded projects is “Scaling-up Buy Social B2B Markets Across Europe”, also referred to as “Buy Social Europe B2B”, which seeks to take the social procurement movement in Europe to the next level, building on years of experience by its partners, to further raise awareness and build capacity of both sides of the supply and demand spectrum of social and mainstream enterprises. The project also counts on financial and non-financial support from its consortium partners, and its first external funder and social procurement expert, next to the European Commission, SAP.
Buy Social Europe B2B is officially underway, after partners from all over Europe gathered for a hybrid project kick-off in The Hague, The Netherlands on June 5th-6th 2023. Led by Euclid Network, the consortium brings together 23 organizations – ecosystem developers, highly-skilled practitioners, and experts in sustainable and social procurement from the supply and demand sides. Among the partners is also Social Enterprise UK – the inventor of the Buy Social brand and owner of the Buy Social trademark, and the Social Enterprise World Forum – the longest-running convener on the topic of social procurement.
Key partners include: Euclid Network – the European Social Enterprise Network, Social Enterprise UK, Yunus Social Business, SEND Germany, Social Enterprise NL and Reach for Change, along with 13 partners on national country level and 4 international associated partners: the Social Enterprise World Forum, the Sustainable Procurement Pledge, SAP and Zurich Insurance.
The project will build on the work of the already existing Buy Social movement, deepening and scaling its scope and impact in 17 countries: Belgium (Sociale InnovatieFabriek), Bulgaria (BCause Foundation), Croatia (Act Grupa), France (Mouvement Impact France), Germany (Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland), Greece (Academy of Entrepreneurship), Hungary (Coalition of Hungarian Social Enterprises), Ireland (Social Enterprise Republic of Ireland), Latvia (Social Entrepreneurship Association of Latvia), Lithuania (Lithuanian Social Business Association), Portugal (Associação Portuguesa para a Inovação Social), Serbia (Smart Kolektiv), Slovenia (Fund2740), Sweden (Reach for Change), Switzerland (Social Enterprise Network Switzerland), The Netherlands (Social Enterprise NL) and the United Kingdom (Social Enterprise UK).
Within the next 16 months, until October 2024, Buy Social Europe B2B will aim to:
- Generate greater visibility and knowledge for social entrepreneurship and
social procurement through campaigns and sharing best practices and case studies of successful B2B trade relationships;
- Assess the needs and build the capacity of social enterprises, mainstream businesses and intermediary organizations to increase trade-readiness in the sector;
- Enhance cooperation and value chain integration between social enterprises and mainstream businesses through supplier identification, match-making and de-risking investments;
- Build a strong business case to convince more local, national and European policy-makers, funders and investors to make long-term strategic investments in the field of social procurement, thus accelerating the transition towards a more social economy.
All parties involved are very much looking forward to getting started on working together towards making “buying social” mainstream and transforming business for better.
Want to know more?
If you would like to learn more about the Buy Social Europe B2B, please contact Wieteke Dupain, EN Head of Knowledge, Research and Development.