skip to Main Content

Denne artikel er tilgængelig på dansk her

March 9 – 2021

A number of large companies are helping social entrepreneurs and social enterprises around the world. Here is a small overview of some of the most important initiatives.

It is obvious that social enterprises can benefit from corporate help and support both of financial support and in support to competence building and business development. But also for the large companies, there are many benefits in collaborating with the social enterprises.

Regarding profiling, such collaboration helps to show that the company is socially responsible and has more on its mind than just making money. And that’s important.

Several studies show that the millennial generation (born between 1980-1996) prefers companies that act socially responsibly. A study from Deloitte shows e.g. that 76% of the millennial generation see companies as a source of creating strong and positive social impact, and the millennials looking for jobs want to work in an organization that sees itself as having a social role and task. They do not want a high paycheck – they want to work for a company that has a purpose.

For large companies collaboration with social enterprises can thus be an important way of  showing the company’s social profile and maintaining and attracting skilled labor to the company. That’s why a widely used model for collaborating with social enterprises is corporate volunteering, where employees from larger are involved in helping the social enterprises.

Finally, large companies can often learn from the social enterprises when it comes to taking social responsibility in new and innovative ways.

But let’s take a closer look at how some of the big companies around the world help and support social entrepreneurs and social enterprises.

Since 2012, IKEA has collaborated with social entrepreneurs all over the world. This was originally done out of a desire to create a positive impact on the world by expanding IKEA’s range of products to include products or services from social entrepreneurs.

Initially, this was done through collaboration with social entrepreneurs, who produced products for IKEA’s department stores. Social entrepreneurs from Africa, India and Thailand are among those that have produced products for IKEA department stores.
From 2018, IKEA has expanded to also support social entrepreneurs, who do not necessarily provide a product or service to IKEA. This initiative was initially managed through a new entity “IKEA Social Entrepreneurship B.V”.

By expanding to support social entrepreneurs who operate alone, it has been IKEA’s hope to support the emergence of social entrepreneurs worldwide. Today, all IKEA’s efforts in relation to social entrepreneurs are gathered in “IKEA Social Entrepreneurship”.

To strengthen collaboration with social entrepreneurs, IKEA encourages its stores around the world to establish partnerships with local social entrepreneurs. The result is tailor-made products and services that are not part of the ordinary IKEA offering and that add value for IKEA’s customers.

One example is the restaurant at IKEA in Bucharest. If you visit here you will experience pastries and bread baked by interns and employees at Concordia, a Romanian social enterprise, that supports vulnerable children, young people and families by offering professional education and jobs.

At IKEA in Malmö, customers can buy fabric and have it made into different products in the sewing room of the Yalla Trappan, that located at the entrance. Yalla Trappan is a social enterprise that creates jobs for women who are far from the labor market.

IKEA works with a number of civil society organizations to support established social entrepreneurs in order to increase their impact. Among others Ashoka, NESsT, Acumen og WWF
So far, IKEA’s partnership with social entrepreneurs around the world has created more than 20,000 new jobs.

Read more about IKEA Social Entrepreneurship here

Danske Bank

To support social entrepreneurs and impact startups, Danske Bank , the largest danish bank, has developed an online digital platform, +impact, where social entrepreneurs and investors can find each other. The platform contains an online catalog of actors throughout the Nordic impact ecosystem and is completely free to use.
+ impact is aimed at startups that in their core business work with one or more of the major environmental and social challenges that society faces.
Overall, the platform help to make it clear which actors in the impact ecosystem are interested in what, so actors can see where there are common interests. All to help promote sustainable change and growth in the Nordic region.
In practice, an impact startup can see what different kind of investors investors such as venture funds, business angels, incubators and accelerators and others have invested in – in the past and what investors are looking for. In the same way investors can get an overview of the startups that work in the areas they focus on and see if there is a potential for collaboration.
It is possible for the actors to contact with each other directly through the platform – if they want.
Finally, the site also includes a funding tool where startups can get help clarifying what to go for a grant, a pitch to an angel or something else.
In addition to the platform, Danske Bank has made a number of reports with surveys of impact investments and impact startups in the Nordic region.

Read more about Danske Bank’s + impact here

eBay UK set up a dedicated shopfront for social enterprise in February 2021 to encourage the company’s 29 million UK customers to buy social.

The initiative is a part of eBay for Change program, a partnership between eBay, Social Enterprise UK and the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) that aims to make a positive impact on thousands of jobs and livelihoods across the UK over the next few years. The program is primarily aimed at the vulnerable communities that have been hit hardest by COVID-19.

To begin with, 50 socially responsible and social enterprises have started trading on eBay through the program and the number will grow significantly in the future.
The participating companies benefit from zero fees, one-on-one digital skills training and a significant marketing investment in order to attract buyers. It is not unknown for eBay to support social entrepreneurs. eBay founder and former CEO Jeff Skoll has been supporting social entrepreneurs through the Skoll Foundation since 1999.

Read more in the article from Pioneers Post here

The German-based software company SAP supports social enterprises through their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts.

This is done primarily through three focus areas:

1) Through partnerships where SAP CSR carefully selects non-profit organizations and social enterprise partners, who primarily work in quality education, preparation for the labor market and youth entrepreneurship. SA provide competencies, technical expertise and access to markets to strengthen the partners ability to create sustainable social impact and systemic change.

In 2019, SAP helped build the competencies of more than 1,200 innovative non-profit organizations and social enterprises through non-financial contributions worth 3.4 million euros, which has impacted the lives of at least 950,000 people across the globe in a positive way.

2) Through SAP Social Sabbatical, which is a pro bono volunteer program designed to activate and develop SAP talent, while helping non-profit organizations and social enterprises focusing on digital integration to get their business running in the best possible way.

Through the program, various teams of employees make their professional expertise available working to solve small task to achieve a triple effect: to solve concrete strategic challenges for client organizations, develop participants ‘core leadership skills and to promote employees’ desire to prefer SAP as an employer.

3) Social Procurement SAP is part of the campaign, which is a campaign started by Social Enterprise UK where a number of large companies together aim to buy in for £ 1 billion from social enterprises. The campaign was launched in 2016.

SAP also supports other initiatives for social enterprises with sponsorships or single donations, e.g. Social Enterprise World Forum and Social Entrepreneurship Monitor reports in individual countries.

Read more about SAP CSR here

The English banking company Barclays supports social enterprises by sharing its expertise and competencies through mentoring. Here, the social enterprises, together with Barclay’s employees and experts, examine the main challenges they face, potential solutions and the support, investment and financing available for future development and growth.

In 2019, 700 of Barclay’s employees provided mentoring to 69 social enterprises across the UK through Barclays Eagle Labs through a partnership with Big Issue Invest.

Barclays is also part of a Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge, where the company is supporting social enterprises in the UK by purchasing from them.

The world’s largest consulting firm Deloitte has long been interested in social enterprises. When describing trends Deloitte has mention the concept in its Human Capital Trends report. Deloitte has a slightly broader understanding of the concept of social enterprise. Here, a social enterprise is understood as the socially responsible enterprise that, in addition to making money, also listens to external as well as internal stakeholders, not only business partners and customers, but all parties in society that the organization influences and is influenced by.

In the Deloitte GLOBAL Human Capital Trends report from 2018, the company emphasizes that their research shows, that social enterprises are on the rise. The report was titled “The Rise or Social Enterprise”. The report is the world’s largest study which over time shows the development in HR, talent and other related topics. In 2020, the report was titled “The Social Enterprise at Work” and in 2021 the title is “The Social Enterprise in a world disrupted.”

Deloitte has also supported several different initiatives that help social entrepreneurs develop their business. In October 2020, Deloitte Global launched a partnership with the Resolution Project, a global nonprofit organization that develops socially responsible young leaders and supports them in making a positive impact.

The initiative will serve as Deloitte Global’s signature program for corporate volunteering and will provide support to young social entrepreneurs in 80+ countries around the world.

Many young people have the energy, will and vision to solve global problems, but they often lack access to the capital, education and support needed to make them a reality.

Deloitte Global’s collaboration with the Resolution Project offers young change agents start-up financing and Deloitte Global employees offer their expertise and support in launching lots of new social enterprises.

In addition to sponsoring and providing expertise in various support projects, Deloitte is also part of Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge.

Unilever has created the TRANSFORM Network program in 2015 to support social enterprises that meet the needs of low-income households in developing countries.

This was initially created in partnership with the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office and since then, Ernst & Young and MasterCard have joined as partners in the program.

Through financial and business support to precisely this type of social enterprises, TRANSFORM aims to give up to 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia access to products and services that can improve their health, livelihood, environment or well-being by 2025.

So far TRANSFORM has supported 56 projects in 13 countries and has reached more than one million people.

Putting business, the public and civil sector with the strengths of each sector is crucial in supporting social enterprises in order to ensure the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

That is why Transform has launched the TRANSFORM Survive & Thrive initiative, which aims to help support the social enterprises that need it the most.

One of the companies that the initiative has supported is Maya, a company that provides digital access to doctors and health experts in Bangladesh. By giving Maya the opportunity to increase their digital marketing and create cheap subscriptions, the company has been able to reach the people who have an urgent need for health information and who have not been able to access them through the usual sources due to the pandemic. Maya increased its capacity so that the company was able to meet the rapidly increasing demand, reduced subscription prices and increased marketing activity with the help of Transforms Survive & Thrive initiative.

It is obvious that technology is an important factor in supporting social enterprises, but it is important that the effort is designed with and for society. Technology can be the key, but must be integrated with care to meet local needs and opportunities.

Read more about Transform here

Since 2009, the Norwegian industrial and financial company Ferd has run a support program for social entrepreneurs called “Ferd Social Entrepreneurs”. Through the program, Ferd has invested in social entrepreneurs who reflect the company’s vision of creating lasting value and leaving clear traces.

As part of the effort, a Sosent Conference is held every year – that give a status on Ferd’s work with social entrepreneurs and focuses on relevant topics within the field. Ferd also publishes an annual report on the company’s the effort.

Ferd´’s work with social entrepreneurs is intended to show that investments in social entrepreneurship creates value.

Ferd Social Entrepreneurs invest in social entrepreneurs, who create good social and economic results. Through a combination of capital, expertise and networking, Ferd’s program strengthens companies’ opportunities for success. Ferd also works with the public sector to create good tools and framework for cooperation with the companies of social entrepreneurs.

Ferd currently has 10 social enterprises in the active portfolio, some of which receive financial support. Most, however, are supported through investment. The social entrepreneurs, who receive grants work actively with developing and growing their business for a period of three years. When Ferd invest capital the company also offers social enterprises to have a board member either from Ferd or from Ferd’s subsidiaries and a dedicated business developer. It is the intention that the social entrepreneurs and their companies should be independent of support after 3 years.

Read more about Ferd Social Entrepreneurs here

The auditing and consulting company PwC helps social entrepreneurs through the company’s Social Entrepreneurs Club, which is a network consisting of 250 social enterprises. The initiative aims to support the growing number of social enterprises in England.

The social enterprises, that are members of Social Entrepreneurs Club can have access to exclusive networking and skills development and mentoring opportunities provided by PwC UK. All is designed to help social entrepreneurs develop and drive their business and their impact.

The Social Entrepreneurs Club has four core offerings for social entrepreneurs.

PwC UK offer all employees working in one the social enterprises in the Social Entrepreneurs Club network access to a PwC mentor.

The initiative offers tailor-made sessions with PwC UK partners and staff to help social entrepreneurs focus on a specific topic or challenge.

Members of the Social Entrepreneurs Club can participate in Networking Events connecting members with leaders from other social enterprises and from PwC’s network of employees and customers.

Competence development
Members of Social Entrepreneurs Club gets offered short and interactive sessions with PwC partners and staff help members to improve their skills and develop new ones in areas such as accounting, finance, impact measurement, proposal writing and digital media.

In recent years, PwC partners and staff have put in more than 6,000 hours and helped 485 English social enterprises.
PwC is also part of Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge.

Read more about PwC´s Social Entrepreneurs Club here

DBS is a Singapore-based bank that spends a significant amount of time and resources on social initiatives. Back in 2014, DBS established the DBS Foundation which actively supports social entrepreneurship.

The DBS Foundation works with social enterprises in Singapore, India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to help them scale their business and impact.

The foundation also collaborates with a number of partners who work to develop social enterprises, e.g. NUS Enterprise, HUB Singapore, Village Capital and Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India, SE Insights in Taiwan, YouChange Foundation in.
In addition to the Foundation and its initiatives, the bank itself also supports social entrepreneurs through an innovative and forward-looking policy, which not is typical for a traditional financial institution.

This happens among others through initiatives like DBS´ “Social Enterprise Package” where social entrepreneurs can get a business account, where they do not have to pay account fees and there is no requirement for a minimum monthly deposit.

DBS Foundation also supports AsiaForGood, which is an online platform that aims to build a community of like-minded social enterprises and socially responsible advocates through a online database and via regular news and updates of various events within social entrepreneurship.


Photo: by CoWomen on Unsplash

Back To Top