Finance: Sector to discuss whether social enterprise needs 'a brand'

The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition is to hold a debate next month to examine whether social enterprise needs a brand.

S2S, the umbrella body's first trade fair, which is being held in Perth next month, will include a discussion about whether social enterprise should be branded to help market the concept to the general public.

Jon Molyneux, policy officer at the coalition, said: "We will be at the forefront of the debate, but we won't be telling people that they should do this or that. The time is ripe for this because social enterprise is starting to mean something outside the sector."

The term social enterprise covers a wide variety of businesses trading for a social purpose, including charity trading subsidiaries, worker co-operatives, businesses that reinvest all their profits and those that pay dividends to investors.

But some in the sector have argued that the concept should become as familiar to the public as Fairtrade or organic produce.

A spokeswoman for the UK Social Enterprise Coalition said: "It's an interesting idea and great that people are talking about social enterprise in this way.

"Fairtrade has shown that an ethical brand can be successful. Unlike Fairtrade, however, social enterprise isn't about a single issue - the sector is very diverse."

Joanne Stetzel, communications manager with the Social Enterprise Coalition, said social enterprise was not really a sector in itself.

"It will be challenging, in our view, to develop a brand that is wide enough to accommodate all the different business models, but one that is also meaningful," she said.

"Social enterprises need to market this added value, and one of the ways they do that might involve lining up behind a brand. But it has to be something that helps them trade."

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