Corporate Social Responsibility 101: why buying from Social Enterprises matters

Fact: there are around 20,000 social enterprises in Australia . So if you’re looking for a simple way to put your purchasing power to work and improve your organisation’s social footprint – you’ve found it.

Corporate social responsibility is far more than donating to charity and reminding people to use the right recycling bin. It encompasses the organisation’s impact on society as a whole and thinking about environmental, social and economic factors.

That’s where social enterprises come in. By marrying purpose and profit, these businesses address social and environmental challenges in a way that is financially sustainable. And they open the door for your organisation to do the same – by bringing social enterprises into your supply chain, or “buying social”.

Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

But first, what are social enterprises?

Social enterprise gets its name from the idea that businesses can drive social change. These businesses are committed to doing good in the world. They still make profits by selling goods or services; the difference is that those profits are then distributed towards social issues, such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, sanitation or the environment.

Here are three facts about social enterprises, courtesy of the good people at Social Traders :

• They are driven by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit
• They derive a substantial portion of their income from trade
• They reinvest the majority of their profits in the fulfillment of their mission.

The social enterprise sector is already big and it’s growing fast. More than two-thirds (34%) of social enterprises in Australia today have been in operation for the past three to five years, according to Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector 2016 (FASES) national research . Now there’s practically nothing you can’t get from a social enterprise. Food and water? Check. Toilet paper and cleaning products? You got it.

At Winc, we believe corporate social responsibility is a big deal and we make sure our company makes a positive impact on the world around us. That’s why we’ve been buying from social enterprises for a number of years through our supplier diversity program.

Here are two example of social enterprises we work with.

Yoobi. We dare you not to fall in love with Yoobi. Co-founded by dads Lance Kalish and Ido Leffler, Yoobi is based on a bright yet simple idea: colourful, vibrant stationery supplies that give back to Aussie kids in need. For every Yoobi item purchased, the enterprise donates a Yoobi school item to an Australian child or classroom in need, through its nonprofit partners.

Here’s what Lance Kalish, co-founder of Yoobi, has to say:

“1.1 Million Aussie kids are living in poverty, and with food and shelter taking priority, it’s not uncommon for children to miss out on essential school stationery items. With enough public support, the ‘You Buy, Yoobi Gives’ approach could go a long way in remedying the problem.”

Who Gives A Crap. This business not only makes forest friendly (and wonderfully soft) toilet paper, it also donates 50% of profits to help build toilets for those in need. Who Gives A Crap started when the founders learnt that 2.4 billion people don’t have access to a toilet – that’s around 40% of the world’s population. To date, the company has donated over $478,500 to help fund hygiene and sanitation projects .

Simon Griffiths, founder of Who Gives A Crap, says:

“Doing good in the world is “good business” and helps cultivate loyalty and engagement amongst staff and customers alike, especially when it’s done in a fun and light-hearted way.”

5 top benefits of social procurement

Aside from the feel-good factor, why should your organisation buy from social enterprises? There are huge benefits to be gained by individuals and communities, as well as the organisation and your employees.

  1. Make positive social impact. Essentially, you’re using the same money budgeted for traditional procurement for the achievement of multiple organisational outcomes and positive social impact.
  2. Boost reputation. Research on ‘Corporate Procurement in Australia’ by Social Traders found that businesses were choosing social buying because it enhanced their reputation amongst staff, shareholders and customers.
  3. Inspire employees. Staff will feel proud to work for the organisation, which keeps them loyal. At the same time, you improve your ability to attract top talent.
  4. Positive brand messaging. By integrating corporate social responsibility into the procurement process, you create a positive brand story.
  5. Strengthen community programs. Choose your social enterprise well and you can create synergies with community programs to increase the impact in both areas.

Which social enterprises should you work with?

With so many social enterprises out there (20,000, in case you’ve forgotten!), it can be hard to choose which to work with. The good news is that there’s more and more guidance around the topic for organisations.

Certifications are an important part of a supplier diversity program, especially with the launch of the ISO 20400 standard in 2017. The standard acts as a ‘how to’ guide for sustainable procurement, covering policy, strategy, organisation and processes. With the ISO brand attached to sustainable procurement, it’s fast becoming an imperative for organisations to include social buying into your corporate social responsibility plans.

There are two certification programs you can look to:

Social Traders is a not-for-profit company set up to support and develop the sector, and it provides social enterprise certification. If a social enterprise has been Social Traders certified, it means they have met the definition of a social enterprise – in short, they are able to demonstrate significant trading activity and redistribute at least 50% of profits to support a social cause. This means you can feel more confident choosing social enterprises to buy from as part of your corporate social responsibility and social procurement strategies.

B Corporations is another certification program. This identifies those businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems. There are currently over 1,200 certified B Corps globally.

When choosing which social enterprises to work with, be sure to align your values and ensure there is a good fit between both businesses. As with any corporate social responsibility partnership, have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Collaboration is a smart way for social enterprises and corporates to get the best out of the relationship, so take the time to consider the strengths on both sides and how you can tap into these to create a long-term relationship.


Think of every dollar you spend in the supply chain as a potential tool for good. Social procurement is a big part of the journey towards a more sustainable economy, allowing companies to create deeper connections with communities and making sure those communities benefit.

At Winc, we do our best to give back to the community and support the natural environment. One way we do this is by using our purchasing decisions for greater social and environmental good. We’ve been buying from social enterprises for a number of years through our supplier diversity program and are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. In 2017, we’re excited to have included Yoobi and Who Gives A Crap to our diverse suppliers.

Check out their products in our catalogue, alongside our huge range of socially responsible products, and start social buying today.

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