What is social procurement?
We de-ladder fine ‘Social Procurement’ as the purchase of goods and services by companies from social businesses. Through social procurement, companies integrate social businesses into their supply chains with the explicit intention of creating social or environmental impact through their procurement. Social Procurement enables companies to drive impact directly via their supply chains (‘do good’ approach), extending beyond awareness building and mitigating supply chain risks (‘do no harm approach’).
More about the background of the manual
Today, there are already many successful examples of commercial partnerships between large corporations and social businesses. For instance, IKEA began working with the Indian social business Rangsutra in 2013, procuring small batches of handcrafted cushions. Eight years on, Rangsutra provides IKEA with more than 400,000 pieces a year, working with 2,000 artisans under a model in which most of them are also shareholders of the social enterprise.
Inspired by these stories, we wanted to understand the range of challenges that both sides face when working with each other, and the practices that are key success factors for both business value and social/ environmental impacts. For this research, we conducted qualitative interviews with over forty corporate leaders, social entrepreneurs and intermediary organisations that have extensive experience in these partnerships (our sample composition is available in the Appendix). We then created a survey for our research participants to validate some of the assumptions that we extrapolated from our interviews and preliminary research.
Our Social Procurement Manual is designed for companies who want to engage with the topic of Social Procurement. We share insights and frameworks to help them better understand the concept of Social Procurement, its value for corporations and the tools needed to create partnerships with social businesses more efficiently, increasing the impact on social businesses and corporate partners alike.
This publication has been prepared within SENBS project No. 2020- 1-EE01-KA204-077999. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the project coordinator and may not always reflect the views of the European Commission or the National Agency.