A UK-wide social enterprise mark designed to act as a standard for businesses in the sector was launched yesterday at Voice10, the annual conference of the Social Enterprise Coalition.
The mark, piloted since 2008 by Rise, the umbrella body for social enterprises in south-west England, has been developed by the Social Enterprise Coalition in collaboration with social enterprise leaders and the Office of the Third Sector.
The UK mark will retain many of the criteria developed during the regional pilot, but will use a different image and have some different criteria. For example, businesses will have to recycle only half their profits for a social purpose in order to qualify, instead of the previous 65 per cent.
In contrast to the previous system, where the cost of adopting the mark was linked to turnover, all social enterprises will now have to pay £99.
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, said: "Social enterprises are businesses doing really extraordinary things in new and innovative ways, but they have until now been hard to recognise, partly because they work in practically every industry imaginable and range from community enterprises to international companies.
"The time is right for the introduction of a visually powerful mark that indicates, at a glance, the integrity of an organisation and around which we can drive awareness and understanding."
The Social Enterprise Coalition said it hoped "several thousand" organisations would adopt the mark over the next few years. It currently has fewer than 70 holders.