Today we launched our first campaign in the City of London – it seems to have hit the Mark, if you’ll indulge the pun. Mark holders from all over, came to tout their wares to City businesses – and there were some big name city businesses there, as well as being high in number. KPMG and Wates Group both talked with passion about why they thought that Social Enterprise Mark holders can make a difference in their supply chains along with strong support from the City of London Corporation. There was also strong interest in understanding the criteria and rigorous assessment process from City businesses – to remove the risk of engaging with organisations masquerading as social enterprises. This all goes to prove there is a definite need for certification which is robust and actually means something.
Chris White MP gave a barnstorming address – not something you often associate with a back-bencher, but his words were inspiring and really set the global context that we now find ourselves in. Crucially, he linked the Mark to the paradigm shift of the changing business world and demonstrated his strong support.
The dialogue between social enterprises was firmly one of business – I don’t think you would have seen that a couple of years ago nor would you have seen such numbers. Questions ranged from issues of quality and price to top tips. My top tip for corporates is to start small and develop the relationship – business relationships in my experience are fundamentally about trust and ability to deliver what you say you will.
I have to say, being a supporter of the Occupy movement, I was slightly worried about how all this might go down – might we have been better going out to join the protesters? I discussed this dilemma with some friends (who know nothing about what I do or about social enterprise) over the weekend . Interestingly, they had been in London and talked to the protesters and their independent conclusion was that they had sympathy for the messages but where were the solutions? I felt really proud to say that we were in the thick of it; helping to provide some solutions and the means to action them!
It was an inspirational and rewarding event, with some new definite supplier relationships underway. Thanks to all those supporting it including Sensevents, Cafe Sunlight, City of London Corporation. We look forward to meeting many more Mark holders and businesses around the country as the campaign grows.
For more information on the campaign see www.50in250.org.