Social enterprises 'must prove worth'

Evidence of commercial viability is lacking, warns Social Enterprise London chief

Social enterprises must develop a solid evidence base to prove to the public and private sectors they are commercially viable, the chief executive of Social Enterprise London has warned.

Allison Ogden-Newton, whose organisation promotes best practice and skills development for the sector, told delegates at the Acevo spring conference in London yesterday that a lack of tangible evidence that social enterprises achieved what they set out to do was one of the principal barriers to their future growth.

"As a sector, we are good at telling people what we do, but we don't have enough proof we do it better than anyone else," she said. "We need to develop reliable ways of measuring a social enterprise's return on investment and quality of service provision. Only then can we hope to win contracts and increase funding."

She said public and private sector organisations had a "genuine desire to engage with the third sector" and social enterprises should exploit this.

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