‘Buying From Social Enterprises’ Initiative – SAP and Ariba Get On Board

Three years ago 11 Downing Street announced the Buy Social initiative in which a number of leading firms pledged to support a goal for £1 billion to be spent with social enterprises by 2020. And at the Social Value Leaders Summit last week the government reinforced its commitment to create more social value from public sector contracting, saying: “This government will ensure that contracts are awarded on the basis of more than just value for money but [the] company’s values too, giving firms much-deserved recognition for their positive actions in society.”

SAP is the latest big tech company to endorse British firms opening up their markets to social enterprises, for the social good. Just last week it announced its partnership with Social Enterprise UK to promote ethical firms, and make it even easier for organisations to find and do business with certified social enterprises on its world-leading trading platform –  Ariba® Network – where £2 trillion is spent annually.

Social Enterprise UK has said that “over the past three years, 15 corporations have awarded contracts worth 65 million pounds ($85 million) to 250 British social enterprises, creating 637 jobs,” and announced that "Britain is seen as a global leader in the innovative sector, with about 100,000 social enterprises contributing 60 billion pounds to the economy and employing 2 million people.”

SAP, announced on its website that “Just 1% of the global spend on Ariba® Network directed towards social enterprises would translate to an injection of £23 billion in the sector, turbocharging the growth of these transformative businesses.”

The most celebrated reason why many more organisations are choosing to back the initiative to buy social is simply for the social and environmental good, backing the government plan for more inclusive, socially and environmentally responsible economic growth. But there are obviously other benefits too (there would have to be for financial stakeholders): these might include being more attractive to customers, who might be more inclined to buy from a firm because of its values and principles, or to potential staff, who wish to work for firms that are more socially committed for the long term – particularly in a candidate-short market.

Nonetheless, the SAP and Ariba teams have been putting a lot of work into “Social Enterprise.” It’s a serious endeavour for them, and they have created not only a roadmap for increasing spend with social enterprises, but a tracking mechanism for reporting progress. It’s been a collaborative effort between the SAP and Ariba teams, so much so that the senior exec team has written a note of thanks to the Ariba team for their commitment and hard work, involving, to name a few, Suresh (Vice President Regional Marketing for SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass), Padmini Ranganathan (SAP Ariba Global VP Product & Innovation) and Frank Omare (Senior Director Center of Excellence).

It’s just the beginning of the project for them, so we will follow it further to see how this worthy initiative takes off, and we wish them continued success.

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