Social entrepreneurs and public bodies: collaboration for success


There is real scope for the joining up of good practice and showcasing of good work that is delivered by social enterprise, including working with public bodies, to create more resilient communities and deliver on a triple bottom line of shared priorities to create thriving, inclusive local economies.

This paper is a result of work completed in conjunction with project partner UnLtd (a social enterprise charity that finds, funds and supports social entrepreneurs). It identifies ways to foster more and better collaborations between public bodies and social enterprises for positive social outcomes.

Social enterprises and anchor institutions contribute to the development of the local economies and communities they work in and will be critical in responding to and recovering from the disruption of the pandemic. The findings in the report are based on a roundtable discussion between social enterprises and local institutions, real world examples and experiences of collaborations on the ground and wider work on resilient communities in the south Wales valleys.

The paper reveals that fundamental to fruitful collaboration are officers who are willing to challenge established ways of working and understand the value of social enterprises as well as the importance of social entrepreneur pioneers and disruptors. There is a growing appetite for social value to be better measured, understood and designed into public sector working practices and to make procurement and commissioning work for social outcomes.

We suggest that to maximise closer working, understanding and collaborations between social enterprise and public sector bodies we identify five steps:

  • Grow a social enterprise culture – A strong social enterprise culture creates greater awareness, recognition and understanding of the value of social enterprise. It offers greater opportunities for social enterprise to play a role in local economies.
  • Join up good practice – Good practice is taking place across Wales, but sometimes occurs in isolation and in pockets. Joining it up helps to show that existing procurement regulations are not barriers to a progressive approach and facilitates valuable peer to peer learning.
  • Embed social value – Social value is increasingly being recognised but there is more work to be done to make it a core part of decision-making and practice across anchor institutions and public bodies.
  • Ensure clarity of pipeline – Making procurement transparent and accessible provides opportunities for social enterprises to compete on a more level playing field and to plan competing for contracts into their businesses forecasts.
  • Improve contract design – Good contract design is essential to ensure that smaller social enterprises are not “designed out” of procurement. Breaking up larger contracts and designing them in a way that is accessible and reflects contract needs can improve social business access to compete for contracts.

Format: PDF
Pages: 13



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