Social Traders has launched a new certification program designed to boost the credibility of social enterprises seeking to become government and corporate suppliers.
Organisations participating in the scheme will be allowed to use a ‘stamp of approval’ logo-mark on their marketing materials, which will assure buyers of the organisation’s social credentials.
Additionally, participants will gain access to a range of services including a listing on a social procurement portal, inclusion on tailored lists provided by Social Traders to buyers, and an invitation to an annual networking event.
The assessment process requires organisations to present financial information along with numerous supporting documents and can take up to five working days to complete. Applications can be lodged through the Social Traders website.
The scheme costs $500 per year (excluding GST) to register one social enterprise, with additional certifications available for $200 per year. An introductory offer of $250 for first year is available to organisations joining before 30 June 2018.
In a statement, Social Traders managing director David Brookes said that previously the social enterprise sector had been “loosely identified with no single definition”, and that the program would help buyers to more easily identify legitimate organisations.
“For us, social purpose is the primary criteria and as such recognition via Social Traders certification makes it easier for business and government to buy from these social enterprises,” Brookes said.
“We are certifying enterprises that meet a definition, which closely aligns with international standards. We aim to provide credibility, and share the awareness and trust that lies in the reputation of Social Traders.
“By extending Social Traders brand equity to the trusted social enterprises we work with, this certification logomark provides assurance to business and government buyers that Social Traders has endorsed a business as a social enterprise.”
The scheme is being introduced after Social Traders tightened its focus to social procurement as part of a new operating model it implemented late last year.
Under the new model, Social Traders identifies social enterprise supply chain opportunities, links social enterprises to buyers, supports buyers to implement and social enterprises to deliver on the contracts and helps them report on the impact of social procurement.
The organisation has also recently called on businesses and governments to adopt social procurement policies, including for major nation-building projects outlined by Infrastructure Australia.
“Social Traders is actively working to help buyers understand the huge social impact and significant community benefit they can achieve by including social enterprise in their procurement decisions,” Brookes said.
Early participants include Yarra View Nursery, a social enterprise focused on employing people with intellectual disability, which credits winning a $500,000 contract with the Victorian Government Level Crossing Removal Authority to its certification from Social Traders.
Yarra View Nursery General Manager Scott Buckland said he expected Social Traders certification would go a long way to breaking down those stigmas and establishing commercial credibility with buyers.
“Like any business tendering for commercial contracts we’re required to meet strict criteria – we certainly do that, and don’t expect any special treatment, but sometimes the battle can be to overcome stigmas or doubts about our ability to deliver, because we’re a social enterprise,” Buckland said.
“That attitude is gradually changing, but given the sector is still not that well understand, carrying an independent certification mark that demonstrates Social Traders credentials will make a big difference for a lot of social enterprises looking to generate business.
“Certainly, in my time at Yarra View Nursery, Social Traders have opened a lot of doors for us and their role in growing the social enterprise sector is critical. Sharing in that credibility will make a big difference.”
Social enterprises can find out more details about the program and apply for certification at the Social Traders website.