Plymouth Social Enterprise Network has published research on the state of social enterprise in our great city. You can read a summary here and the full version here.

We know the power of research. Understanding the state of social enterprise in Plymouth in 2013 led to us becoming the UK’s first Social Enterprise City. That, in turn, led to millions of pounds worth of investment and business advice for our social enterprises.

Now, six years later, this report shows how that city badge and that investment has helped develop social enterprises in Plymouth. There are more of them. They employ more people. They work in the most disadvantaged areas and bring in more, much needed, income to the city’s communities.

This research shows that, as we rebuild our economy post Coronavirus/Covid-19, social enterprises need to be at the heart of the recovery and embedded in economic and heath policy making. Without social enterprises a future economy that goes back to ‘business as usual’ will only compound inequalities and make recovery harder. We need a healthy workforce with decent, productive jobs that enhances, not damages, the environment. Social enterprises are delivering this as the research proves.

There are some eye-opening findings, clues to the future economy we want and also some business needs for social enterprises that we need to address. For example, did you know that:

  • Two of the five largest employers in Plymouth are social enterprises
  • The social enterprise community has grown by 33% from 150 to around 200 businesses over the last six years
  • Social enterprises employ over 9,000 people and spend nearly £600 million a year in our city’s economy
  • Over half of leaders in social enterprises are women
  • Nearly two thirds of our social enterprises pay the Real Living Wage to staff compared to a third of FTSE100 companies
  • Nearly all our social enterprises offer support around employee well-being in the work-place

But more than just the statistics: this research shows us that a better way of doing business is not a work of fiction. It is real; right here and now in our great city. And it is growing.

We face serious social, economic and environmental problems in Plymouth and the wider world. Post Coronavirus/Covid-19 these problems will be in even more sharp focus. People and planet are not distinct from the economy, they are the economy. This report illustrates that social enterprises in all their forms, be they co-operatives, community businesses, community interest companies, trading charities and more, are creating a more compassionate, fairer, more diverse and more environmentally sustainable society through their work.

Thank you to all who contributed to this report: the researchers and writers, Transform Research Consulting. The funders, Power to Change. And to the social enterprises, members of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, and others who took part and who demonstrate that you are making the city a better place though your fabulous work.

Let us press for ever more business with good cause in Plymouth in the coming years.

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network