Meet this year’s Coralus Ventures in Canada, the US, and the UK and learn about their work on the World’s To-Do List.

Supporting a Social Enterprise Ecosystem with Beth Pilgrim and Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi of Supply Change

“The pandemic definitely accelerated it, and helped people realize that we can’t continue as normal. We have to do things, we have to act in a way that is considerate for everyone in our society.

— Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi, Co-Founder of Supply Change

In this episode

Meet SheEO Venture Supply Change! Co-founders Beth Pilgrim and Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi join SheEO Activator Hannah Senior to tell us more about what Supply Change does, supporting social enterprises to make sure they’re procurement ready, and meeting buyers where they’re at.

They also discuss:

  • Challenges that social enterprises face in securing contracts and how Supply Change helps
  • The return on investment of social enterprises — and how they may not always have a higher cost
  • Impact reporting for social enterprises and buyers
  • Building their custom tech platforms
  • The growth of social enterprises since the pandemic
  • Trying out revenue models as a new business
  • Their time in the SheEO community thus far

We invite you to join us as an Activator at SheEO.World.

Take action and engage with Supply Change:

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Podcast Transcript:

The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 0:00
The pandemic definitely accelerated it, and helped people realize that we can’t continue as normal. We have to do things, we have to act in a way that is considerate for everyone in our society.

Vicki Saunders 0:15
Welcome to SheEO.World podcast, where you’ll meet women and non-binary folks who are transforming the world to be more equitable and sustainable.

Hannah Senior 0:33
Well, I’m really pleased to meet you both today. My name is Hannah senior. I am normally the host of the innovating ag tech podcast and the plant breeding stories podcast. But I’m also a UK based SheEO activator. And so today, I’m really delighted to be here to talk to one of the new ventures that has been selected this year, Supply Change. And I’m with the founders, Beth and Aoise. So let’s just kick things off. Would you like to introduce yourselves? Beth, perhaps you’d like to go first?

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 1:06
Sure. Hi, I’m Beth. I’m one of the co founders of Supply Change, which is a social enterprise that connects buyers looking for goods and services, with social enterprises that can deliver quality but also a positive impact to the communities they operate in. And my role in Supply Change is focused on sales and business development. So I manage the relationships with the buyers that we engage with.

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 1:33
Thanks, Hannah. Yeah, my name is Aoise, and I’m also co founder of Supply Change. Whilst Beth deals with the buyer side of things, I spend all my time working on the supplier community. And we have a whole bunch of suppliers, but to all sorts of things from marketing, to painting and decorating to tea and coffee, and just building up that community to work with buyers to deliver more impact through their spend.

Hannah Senior 2:04
Excellent. Okay. Well, thank you that’s got us started. And I know Beth, you gave us a little overview, or you both given us a little overview of what Supply Change does. But But as I understand it, in a nutshell, you’re connecting buyers of goods and services to social enterprise supplier. So is that correct? And if yes, tell me a bit about how that came about.

Beth Pilgrim 2:25
Yep. So yeah, that is correct. The idea for Supply Change came about because of a project that myself at Isha worked on. Three years ago, when we were doing a postgraduate course called year here, on that course, we worked on a project for housing association in the UK, that wanted to understand how they could deliver more impact through their supply chain. And they wanted to work with more social enterprise suppliers. So we did a big piece of research around what the opportunity was for social enterprises to deliver both public sector and private sector contracts. And where were the opportunities for them to do this, but also what was stopping them from being able to do this more. And what we realized was there was a gap in the market for an organization like us that could help bring together buyers who wanted to deliver impact through their supply chain, but needed to find social enterprises to do that for them. And social enterprises who wanted to win more work and scale the impact that they were having, but we’re having problems accessing contracts of these large buyers. So that’s what gave us the idea for Supply Change. And that’s kind of where we started our journey.

Hannah Senior 3:39
So are you especially focused on government procurement? Or do you also work with connecting suppliers to, for example, Big Blue Chip companies that are looking for goods and services?

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 3:50
Yeah, we have a whole host of different types of buyers from both the private and public sector. And within the private sector, we’ve worked with banks and professional services, law firms, construction companies, as well. And within the public sector, we’ve worked with organizations like housing associations, local authorities, and all sorts. And sometimes we even do matching where social enterprises want to buy from social enterprises, which gets a bit meta, because there’s a whole whole, you know, there’s so much impact that can be created from just that as well. So we just generally work with any organization that wants to create impact from their spend, and they buy from other b2b organizations as well.

Hannah Senior 4:31
So is the key problem, one of visibility, is it? Is it that they just can’t these organizations can’t find suppliers that are also aiming to have impact alongside supplying services? Or is it a deeper issue than that? Could you just expand on that for me?

Beth Pilgrim 4:50
Sure. It’s a great question. It’s actually a multifaceted problem. Really. There’s lots of factors at play. When it comes to social enterprises at Testing contracts. Sometimes public sector and private sector contracts themselves are quite large. And some social enterprises aren’t at the right scale to be able to deliver those. So that’s why it’s really important to have capacity building support for the social enterprise sector to help them scale. And sometimes, particularly in the public sector, procurement processes. And portals are often very lengthy and difficult for suppliers to navigate. And when you’re a small social enterprise that can be quite time consuming. And you can often find it hard to compete alongside larger commercial suppliers who might have whole teams dedicated to bid writing. But definitely one of the key factors that came up in our research was this issue of visibility, often public sector and private sector buyers, when they’re tendering for goods and services, they might only go out to suppliers that they already know, or have worked with in the past, for kind of small to medium sized opportunities, which would actually be perfect for social enterprises to deliver. So these opportunities aren’t getting advertised and social enterprises aren’t finding out about them. And procurement teams similarly want to work with social enterprises, but they don’t have the time to spend kind of doing internet research to try and find them. And also, they want to make sure that the suppliers that they do it work with meet the kind of standards and quality that they require as a business. And so that’s why at Supply Change, we created our platform, because it allows buyers to find social enterprise suppliers in one place. And all the suppliers that have joined the Supply Change platform have been through a due diligence process by our team, which means that we vet all the social enterprises signing up to the platform to check that they are contract ready and suitable to engage with buyers. So for social enterprises, the platform gives them a place to be visible to buyers, who are using our platform without having to fill in a very long, complicated application forms for buyers, and the platform is a go to place to find social enterprises that they know they can trust. So we’re improving visibility, but also helping social enterprises to show their credentials to buyers, and also helping to mitigate risk for buyers as well.

Hannah Senior 7:20
So actually, you just touch on something that I was going to ask you. So he you might fill a fill out a little bit more about this, I was going to ask, How do you describe social enterprises? Number one, you know, what, what’s your criteria? And then second to that, how do you audit or vet them? So Isha? That might be a question those two might be questions for you.

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 7:41
Yeah, I guess kind of ties into what Beth was saying. Because I guess what we have a, we have a solution. And although it’s kind of fitting some of the gaps and barriers in the market, there are still some barriers that exist that are out of our control. So just to feed into what Beth was saying. I think social finance is a huge barrier for social enterprises to scale. That is required that to a level or a size that is required by buyer demand. And the definition of social enterprise comes into this because we have maybe created too tight a definition here in the UK anyway, of what counts as a social enterprise. And unfortunately, the investment market isn’t really able to meet us halfway, or meet us at that definition at least. So for example, in the UK, the way they define social enterprises, although there is no legal definition, the kind of more accepted sector wide known definition is that social enterprises have a 51% either profit or asset lock. So all their kind of profits or assets need to be destined towards their social mission. Their primary purpose is a social mission. And that’s as specified in their objects and their articles of association. And then finally, their trading, the majority of their income needs to come from trading. And the way that we kind of work out is that we, we want to give everyone that whatever stage they are a reinvestment or whatever stage they are in their social journey, an opportunity to benefit from social procurement. And so we just asked for the outset that every supplier has a mission lock in their articles of association so that their existence is primarily one of purpose and social impact. And then we leave it up to our buyers. So we allow our buyers to choose whether they require a mission lock, and whether they require an asset or a profit lock. And whether they require things like B Corp accreditation, whether they are registered cooperative, whether they are led by women or whether they are a team lead. So we allow our buyers to make that final decision but from the very beginning we just make sure that everyone that comes onto our platform, has a has a mission lock in their social in the US because of us Association. We also check other things that might be interesting to our buyers. And this is some stuff that we identified during our research things like trade specific credit stations or certificates, and references, financial history, insurance documents, things like their impact statements, things that we knew that buyers were looking for, that we found out during our research. So it’s a whole Yeah, whole host of different things. And but as Beth mentioned, we only gather that once. So the barrier isn’t too high for social enterprises who want to join.

Hannah Senior 10:37
So your definition is broader than the official definition. But you allow the buyers on the platform to make the final decision about where they draw that line. And it sounds like you work quite closely with your suppliers to make sure that they’re ready to bid for opportunities as they come up. Could you just go into a bit more detail on that? Like, how long does that take? And what does that look like in practice?

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 11:04
Yeah, so we do work really closely with our social enterprises. And I guess I mentioned before that we don’t want to create this exclusive club where only really big successful social enterprises can join and get put in front of different buyers. This is a place of capacity building, and a place of opportunity for all social enterprises that serve b2b. So when they come on board with us, they could be a sole trader, they could be a massive 300 person company, operating across the whole of the UK. But what we want to make sure is that everyone is given that opportunity to get in front of our buyers. And even through onboarding with us, there’s an element of capacity building. So it’s kind of onboarding form is, is quite like a checklist of getting kind of buyer ready or procurement ready, and through onboarding with us, and we can work with social enterprises, to meet those requirements and those necessities to become ready to work with buyers. But yeah, and we also do other capacity, building things as well. We’ve worked with a whole host of organizations and sharing knowledge about how businesses, social businesses can become procurement ready for both the private and public sector. And we also do we do events kind of learning, which also have an element of learning as well as, as well as networking. So yeah, throughout the kind of journey that suppliers have with us, there is always an element of capacity building.

Hannah Senior 12:32
I suppose I’ve got my cynical hat on here for a moment, which is that in my experience, large organizations often talk the talk. But when it comes down to brass tacks, actually, what they want is price. So do you find that you know, how often do you find that you engage with buyers who say that they’re looking to support social enterprises? When it comes down to it? Actually, it’s it’s all about price, or do other things genuinely end up being priorities?

Beth Pilgrim 13:03
It’s a great question, and definitely one that we have had to deal with. Since founding Supply Change, it can really vary buyer to buyer, and what sector they’re operating in. But of course, people who work in procurement teams at the end of the day, their role is to secure goods and services for the organization and often within a set budget. So cost is never far from their mind. What I like to discuss with buyers, when the issue of price comes up is the added value that you’re paying for with social enterprises. So for example, if you are a local authority, and you decide to use a waste management social enterprise firm, that deliver that impact through employing ex offenders, it might be that that social enterprise deliver that service at a slightly higher cost in order to cover their operational costs from training and rehabilitating ex offenders. However, what that means that in the long term is that those ex offenders have been provided with employment opportunities and route to an independent life and are much less likely to reoffend and therefore be using services within that local authority that will have to be paid for by that local authority. So yes, they might be more expensive in the short term, but actually, the added social value that they are delivering, will benefit that local authority much, much more in the longer term, rather than if they just used a straightforward commercial waste management company. But the other thing is that often it can be a bit of a myth that social enterprises are more expensive. And in fact, we’ve often found that many of our suppliers are able to compete alongside commercial businesses and offer pricing that is in line with the rest of the market. So I think sometimes it’s a story that gets told. And it’s not always always the case. But I think that buyers need to look at this Supply Chain overall, when considering social procurement. And if spending with a social enterprise in one area means kind of increasing your budget for that item, where can you look to save money elsewhere and try to be creative around your spend. And I think buyers who are really committed to social procurement, do understand that in some cases, it might involve a higher spend in some areas. But if they are delivering that added social value, or environmental value, then actually that business is getting more of a return than if they were to just use a straightforward commercial supplier. And so that’s how we like to frame it when it comes to the issue of costs. But it’s definitely not something that can be avoided when you are speaking to procurement teams for sure.

Hannah Senior 15:46
When you’re talking about those extra ways of adding value, or the additional benefits of of purchasing goods and services through these social enterprises. Presumably you also run into question of measurement. How do you know can you prove that? Is that something you get engaged with?

Beth Pilgrim 16:04
Yes, so we measure our own impact and also provide impact reports for clients who use our platform. So the primary measures that we use for our impact is the amount of spend redirected towards social enterprises. So what the value of a contract is, that has gone towards the social enterprise supplier. And that is our direct impact. But the indirect impact is obviously what that supplier is then able to do, as a result of winning that contract and where that money has helped support their business. So we asked social enterprises that we managed to broker contracts for what that money has helped them to achieve, for example, how many jobs were created as a result of winning that contract. Or if it was, for example, environmentally focused social enterprise, has that contract helped to reduce a certain amount of carbon emissions has it led to a certain amount of trees being planted, we ask the social enterprises to provide us with that data, which we can then report back to clients, the world of impact measurement is very complicated and quite a crowded space. And we try not to make it even more complicated by reinventing the wheel. And we tried to keep it really simple. And just explain this is the amount of money that you’ve managed to switch to social suppliers. And this is what that money has created according to the social enterprises you’ve spent it with. And we find that keeping it simple, actually, is kind of what the buyers want to hear and has a more of an impact, rather than trying to put complicated pounds and pence calculations towards impact, which always get a bit confusing, in my personal opinion.

Hannah Senior 17:42
Excellent. Okay, so I’m going to just take a slight change of direction you describe how you first came across this idea that led to Supply Change. Maybe you could tell me a bit about the journey from his a good idea to where you are today, you know, how has that unfolded for you?

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 18:01
Yeah, I can jump in here. So I guess, after I kind of research project, we, as Beth explained, knew that there was this kind of appetite for social enterprises or social businesses to work with organizations who are buying goods and services. But yeah, it’s definitely been a long journey, since we had that kind of light bulb moment right through tonight. So the third part of the course that we did was called adventure phase. And it’s kind of an eight week phase to really try out ideas and test ideas with different users, and with peers. So we jumped into that, and then went into our first kind of crowdfunding opportunity. And we were really successful. So we really, really believed that we had traction, we were really excited by this idea. And then we went out to raise funding, we initially raised funding to build our platform, which says that kind of matching between social enterprises and buyers, and we raised that funding. And what was really interesting about this was that another co founder, that we that was part of our team, at the time, was a little bit quiet for a couple of a couple of months. And that was really, that was really interesting, because she came out after the three months and said, I’ve learned how to code. So I’m going to build the platform myself. And that was really great. And it was really exciting. Because, as you well know, having tech expertise in your team is really brilliant. And it’s a great chance to be really flexible with your product, it’s a great chance to save a lot of money as well. And so that was that was a real big part of our journey. And once we had the platform built, we then started selling it into buyers and getting social enterprises to join the platform. And one thing that we came up against is that we had increasingly with more exposure to buyers realize that a lot of the assumptions that we had made either in our research, or in our kind of user testing and the platform We’re not true. We assumed that buyers were ready for maybe a platform like this, and that they could just jump straight in. But that’s and that’s absolutely fine that that wasn’t the case. But how can we how can we change our direction to make sure that we were not just meeting the buyers that were well into social procurement journey, but also meeting buyers where they’re at whether that be really mature engagement with social enterprises, or they just found out about social enterprises yesterday, or even earlier, they don’t even know what a social enterprise is. So that’s why we built out different services to accommodate for that. So we do a lot of kind of policy work to help buyers engage with social enterprises building policies internally, and then rolling out those policies internally, how they can speak to their colleagues about social enterprises, you know, what is a social enterprise, why you should be passionate about social enterprise, how to engage with them how to work with them. We also run events because we also recognize that whilst there are so many processes out there for engaging with social enterprise that sometimes social enterprise engagement and social enterprise procurement is built on relationships. So how can we get stakeholders into the room to build those relationships to lead to social procurement, Beth kind of touched on it really briefly, but we do something called a spend analysis as well, because we noticed buyers were coming to us and saying, I don’t even know where to start, like, I have this massive supply chain. And there’s so much spending, and we have so many suppliers, I don’t even know where to start. So we worked with them to look at their supply chain data, find out which bits would be what they might already be spending with these guesses, or social enterprises find out where they’re spending loads of money, and you know which areas might be right for social enterprise engagement based on the market and based on their spend. And then of course, we’ve got the platform, which now it’s looking, you know, looking at it from where it first began, I mean, we probably would never really show anyone what it looked like at the very beginning. Because it’s become such a long way, we test a lot of assumptions about what the platform should be, and have made it a whole whole lot better as a result of that. And it’s been a really long journey to come to where we are now. And we’ve had to definitely let go a lot of a lot of assumptions and a lot of thoughts that we thought were true. And we at the beginning, were probably plugging a bit too hard and not listening enough. But I think once we started to listen and take on people’s kind of feedback and the way that they were responding to our kind of goods and services, where we are now and what we’re meeting the market with now, I think is a really good offer for everyone no matter where they’re at.

Hannah Senior 22:42
So what you’re describing is quite interesting. It’s not just the matching function, there is this enormous amount of education on both sides. That’s really important to make this work. And I think I’d perhaps initially underestimated that when when I was learning about what Supply Change does. So tell me about how you have funded your growth so far, how have you managed to get to the stage your app? Plus, perhaps you could talk a little bit about your revenue model? Do you? Do you charge a percentage? Is it an access fee? You know, could you connect those dots for us?

Beth Pilgrim 23:13
So we’ve received lots of different types of funding over the years actually, we’ve kind of tried a bit of everything. As Isha mentioned, when we first launched, we were lucky to go to a crowdfunding event and got some initial seed funding from friends and family and the wider your network. We were then really lucky to receive equity investment from orbit housing, who were actually the housing association that we did our first research project, they in a sense, helped incubate us, and invested in us. And we also did a program here in the UK called The beyond Business Program, which is run by a bank Investec. And an amazing center called the Bromley rainbow center in East London, who also gave us some equity funding and mentoring. And that really helped us put us through our first year when we were developing the platform, and not really able to trade yet. And we’ve also received some grant funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. And we’ve taken on repayable finance as well, which was really helpful during the first part of the pandemic, when obviously, like many small businesses, our sales suffered. So we’ve been quite flexible with the types of funding that we’ve taken on. And we’re also hoping to raise further investment this year to help us kind of take that next step and scale up further. In terms of our business model. We have a number of different revenue streams to match the kind of different activities that we do. And so the platform itself is a subscription model. So buyers pay an annual license fee to access the platform, which is renewed every year, but it’s free for suppliers to join at the moment are kind of wraparound support services like our spend analysis and our events. We are charged separately based on the kind of the bespoke nature of that work. And we kind of base it around a kind of rough day rate for our services. So we make money from those services separately. And then we also have another platform called the dynamic purchasing system, which is something that we have developed with orbit in partnership with them, which is aimed at our public sector clients. And that is a completely public sector compliant purchasing system, where public sector buyers can go and find social enterprise suppliers for their goods and services. And they know they’re doing that within public sector legislation in the UK. And we help to vet the suppliers joining in the same way that we vet suppliers joining our platform. And so that we take a commission fee from any of the contracts brokered through the dynamic purchasing system. And this is actually a model that we hope to build more on in the future. And we hope to eventually integrate our dynamic purchasing system and our platform and make sure that we are taking a commission against any contracts that were brokering, because it’s a much more scalable business model for us going forward, and will allow us to grow even quicker. And it means that we aren’t kind of relying on a kind of flat fee subscription service from buyers every year. That gives us more room for growth. So that’s kind of our model at the moment. So a mixture of kind of standalone services, annual license and Commission, which I think probably because we’re any business is a reflection of the fact that we’re trying lots of different things out. And I think our strategy for the next few years is to really focus on our scalable products and make sure that we’re kind of moving towards sustainability as much as possible. But we are quite proud that in the last year, the majority of our income has been from trade. So that’s something that we’re really proud of, considering that the couple of last couple of years that we’ve all had.

Hannah Senior 27:01
So this feels like a good moment to transition to asking some questions about how SheEO fits in, what made you decide to apply to become a SheEO venture? And how were you hoping that being a venture will benefit Supply Change.

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 27:18
So the reason we applied for SheEO. While there was I guess two kind of factors to the first and probably the most important is that as a small team, having a wider network of, of people that have gone through something similar to us, such as growing a business and a purpose for business is so valuable to us. And the community we had heard through our networks is a really supportive one. We’ve just been part of that community for the last two months now, three months. And without a doubt we can we can say how supportive and forthcoming and inclusive the SheEO community have been. We’ve been offered help numerous times, probably more times than we have in the last in the last year alone. So I think one of the main reasons why we wanted to apply for SheEO was to be part of that community. And to benefit from from all that the generosity of activators. And, and the ventures and also in to return that we wanted to also provide our kind of expertise around b2b procurement and social procurement, and our experience of growing a social business to in whatever way that was helpful. And then secondly, we really wanted to get funding as well to grow different aspects of our business. But predominantly, as Beth was kind of mentioning the most scalable pilots, particularly the DPS, the dynamic purchasing system and our platform. And we’re hoping that funding brought in through through SheEO will be able to grow those parts of our business.

Hannah Senior 28:57
You just said it’s early days for being part of the SheEO network. But can you give us maybe a specific example of how the community has come through for you or a way in which being part of the SheEO world has benefited Supply Change?

Beth Pilgrim 29:13
Sure. So just last week, I met our venture activator circle, which is a group of activators here specifically volunteered to kind of help Supply Change through this journey. So I had a call with the amazing activators who volunteered to help us. And already within kind of 20 minutes of the call, they were brainstorming strategic partners that we could get in touch with to help expand our sales and UK, offering to make introductions and putting a date in for a brainstorm to kind of do a stakeholder mapping exercise of us where we map out who within certain sectors in the UK we could potentially approach to widen our client base, which for me, particularly as someone who’s working on sales and business develop went in the business and a lot of the time on my own, it’s just hugely helpful to have an extra pair of hands to help me do those things. Because often I don’t get the time to really sit down and do those things. And having people who are so generous with their time, and seem to really understand your mission and genuinely want to support you is just really, really inspiring, but also really reassuring as well. And yeah, I think we just feel very grateful and lucky to be surrounded by people who seem to be just so willing to support and help us.

Hannah Senior 30:34
And one of the things we’d like to give you the opportunity to do is to bring forth and ask if you have one of the SheEO community. So is there anything that you would like to use this moment to ask for? Well, I

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 30:50
guess the one thing I can ask where maybe Beth, you can add as well, we, as Beth mentioned, are going to raise this year. And I think we’ve already got some support on the more kind of logistics administrative side of what it takes to raise. But I guess, calling on that community side of SheEO. If anyone knows anyone that’s particularly interested in systems change and changing the landscape of procurement, and supporting social enterprises through trade, we’d be super interested to chat with them, and see and tell them more about our mission and see how we can potentially create more impact with their kind of financial help. And perhaps, Beth, I don’t know if you’ve got an ask.

Beth Pilgrim 31:32
Yeah, I guess just if anyone’s listening to this, and they themselves work for an organization, who they think would be interested in creating impact for their spend, to get in touch with us. Or if you have an idea of an organization that we should be working with. We’re particularly looking to expand our work in the kind of financial and professional services sector in the UK. So if you’re out there thinking my company needs to do stuff like this, and work with Supply Change, then please get in touch with us.

Hannah Senior 32:02
And just to be clear, any kind of organization that seeking to procure goods or services could could come through Supply Change, if they if they wanted to, could they?

Beth Pilgrim 32:13
Yeah, anyone that has a supply chain can can work with social enterprises.

Hannah Senior 32:18
Excellent. Tell me a bit about your plans for the future, then what does the future look like? You mentioned a raise. That’s that’s one big thing that’s coming up anything else that you want to share?

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 32:31
Yeah, I think well, as Beth and I mentioned previously, we were really excited to build some of our products that we put out there, we’ve gathered a lot of learning about so although we’ve been tinkering with the, with the platform, I think there’s a lot more that can be improved with that. And we’re really excited to build that. And even further based on the increased amount of feedback we’ve had, because of more people joining it, but also the dynamic purchasing system, it’s a huge opportunity for us to a huge offer for us to generate more impact through public sector spend. I think what’s really interesting and exciting about the dynamic purchasing system is that we’re kind of meeting the buyers where they’re where they’re at. And this was a it’s a real kind of procurement it mechanism that they really liked because it is compliant. And it’s what they used to working with. So it’s really exciting for us that we can bring a product to them that that they really love and they’re really happy to engage with. And but what’s also really exciting about it is that it’s it’s really scalable across geographies, across different trades, of goods and services. So that’s a really exciting thing. So we’re really focusing on our kind of product side this year, which is really exciting part. Yeah, and

Beth Pilgrim 33:53
I guess longer term, we have a kind of five year goal of redirecting 20 million towards social enterprises. It’s quite ambitious. But we’ve nearly done half a million. So we believe we can get there. And really, we just want to be known as I guess, the leaders in social procurement support in the UK, and hopefully contribute to an environment where social procurement is the norm. And it’s not a kind of a nice to have.

Hannah Senior 34:22
So my sense is that social procurement is something that’s growing in importance. It’s like, is that your experience?

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 34:32
Yeah, definitely. There’s a couple of things that have led to a growth and appetite for companies, whether you know, public sector organizations or private sector companies, to engage with social enterprises. And I think the pandemic has been a huge driving for us. And we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, even on an individual level, we were starting to think about our relationship with our communities, with our local communities. We were starting to read realize the vast inequalities that existed in our world, right on our doorstep. And also further afield. In terms of geographies, the kind of inequalities that existed on an individual level, we started to care more and, and to think more about our effect on on other people. And that definitely fed up we saw that was happening to employees on an individual basis. And then employers were having to think about it. And they knew that they couldn’t just continue on the same on the same kind of form of their normal CSR activities. They needed to go beyond those. It wasn’t just now about cake sales and charity, kind of quizzes, they had to think how can we embed our social value our social impact ambitions, in our day to day operations? How can we make sure that we, as an organization are going above and beyond to support the communities that we’re operating in. And that’s why social procurement became a really important thing, because there was this pressure from us as individuals as employees, but also, you know, customers as well of organizations, all sorts of stakeholders, even shareholders were thinking, you know, this, we have to go above and beyond, we have to start thinking about our operations and how we can create impact from that. And then there’s another another kind of influence as well, here in the UK, the social value Act, there is the social value model that was introduced last year. And that’s generated a lot of importance on social procurement to specifically those working with the public sector. And it’s now requiring them to consider the social value of all contracts that are procured through different government departments, and public sector organizations. And so now that it’s it’s kind of a legislative requirement as well. And we’re seeing that there’s a huge appetite even more so growing for for social, social procurement and generating impact from your spend.

Hannah Senior 37:09
So it sounds like there’s a good example of every cloud has a silver lining, nobody would have chosen to go through the pandemic, but there’s definitely been some positive outcomes as a consequence.

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 37:19
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And we we see that it is growing. And I think it was when we started in 2018, very much kind of at the start of this of this movement, I think the pandemic definitely accelerated it, and help you people realize that we can’t continue as normal. We have to, to do things. And we have to act in a way that is considerate for everywhere in a nice society, and really great way that businesses can do that, because they have these massive, powerful and influential supply chains, is to use that for good.

Hannah Senior 37:56
It’s been a really fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for sharing with us. What great work Supply Change are doing. It’s been a real pleasure.

Beth Pilgrim 38:03
Thank you, Hannah. It was really nice to meet you.

Aoise Keogan-Nooshabadi 38:05
Thanks, Hannah.

Vicki Saunders 38:09
Thank you for listening to the SheEO.World podcast. Like, comment, subscribe, and share this podcast with your friends. We invite you to join a global community of radically generous women and non binary folks at SheEO.World.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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