Leading UK social entrepreneur Will Davies predicts that next year will see social enterprises turn to large corporations for the funding they need to make a difference.
“It’s a two way street, as large corporations start to understand the massive sales potential of social responsibly it is still up to the social enterprise sector that has the grassroots knowledge to guide their spend,” said Will Davies, MD of aspect.co.uk.
Will Davies speaks in relation to Starbucks, who recently pledged to create 1,000 new full-time apprenticeships over the next two years. At present, the coffee-chain giants has vacancies across the UK.
Starbucks, according to Mr Davies, had to think strategically after their reputation was in danger.
“It seems that the combined power of a Twitter campaign and a customer boycott has taught Starbucks the relationship between profits and social responsibility,” said Mr Davies.
“Where Starbucks have gone other corporates will surely follow. Contributing cash to the UK exchequer has suddenly become important; at least to those managing consumer brands where public opinion can hit sales.”
“How many social enterprises have the ability to create 1,000 new apprenticeships? The point is that making a difference to the disadvantaged has become interesting to multinational corporations but they don’t have the expertise to deliver successful social enterprise,” said Mr Davies.
“This has to be good news for worthy social enterprises searching for cash. It is up to them to work with corporates; they have the grass roots knowledge and understand the need.”
“Starbucks sells an awful lot of coffee, sandwiches and cake. A turnover of almost £400m per annum, and 8,500 employees makes it easy to make a big difference with a very little effort,” he said.
Many small but worthy social enterprises are struggling to survive in the current financial climate of expenditure cuts and many have disappeared already taking their services with them.
Within the social enterprise sector there is much criticism of the government’s chosen option of funding a few very large service providers.
“The future has to be with social enterprises searching out corporate funding,” said Mr Davies. “There has to be a greater future in collaboration than competition. Savvy social enterprises will be seeking commercial partners by 2014.”