Social Enterprise Academy provides high-quality and accessible learning and development opportunities to support people and organizations enabling social change in Scotland and across the globe.
Its focus on education for adults and youth play a role in both economic growth and fostering future innovation. The Social Enterprise Academy is just one example of a growing number of organizations that embody business with purpose in its purest form. By connecting their socially-driven mission to market forces, social enterprises represent a powerful vehicle for a more caring, more inclusive, and a more sustainable economy.
This September, at Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland, SAP will announce its biggest commitment to date in support of the burgeoning social enterprise sector. SAP is entering a three-year partnership with the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), the world’s leading and longest established international social enterprise movement-building organization, as its global technology partner.
According to Gerry Higgins, founder and director of SEWF, “For the first time in our 10-year history, Social Enterprise World Forum will have a global partner, allowing us to add vital capacity to our work of building a global social enterprise movement. Working with SAP will extend our reach and impact as we collaborate with partners on every continent to reduce inequality. Our first decade was about building the foundations for a global social enterprise movement, there is now a demand for knowledge, information, and leadership that will drive our strategy for the next decade.”
Commenting on the partnership, Adaire Fox-Martin, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, Global Customer Operations, said: “Social enterprise is booming and there are powerful opportunities for commercial organizations and social enterprises to inspire each other and collaborate. Together, we can maximize positive social impact and address some of the world’s biggest problems. We are proud and privileged to support the SEWF and provide more social enterprises with access to the technology, talent, and markets they need to be successful.”
Through the partnership, SAP will work with SEWF and Social Enterprise UK to develop a massive open online course (MOOC), demonstrating the commercial and social impact corporates can attain by investing in social enterprises. Available in early 2019 through the openSAP Thought Leaders channel, the MOOC will also showcase examples of best practice systems and methods of measuring and reporting social impact.
SAP employees will also support the partnership at an individual level through the SAP Social Sabbatical program. Each year, diverse teams of SAP employees from around the world volunteer their time and skills to social enterprises in the regions where the SEWF is held. This globally awarded pro-bono volunteering initiative sends more than 250 employees on sbbatical assignments around the world each year. For this year’s SEWF, SAP employees from across Europe have spent two weeks immersed with three Scotland-based social enterprises — including Penumbra, the Homeless World Cup Foundation, and the Social Enterprise Academy — to solve critical strategic challenges they are facing.
Thibaud De Keyser, a participant from the Edinburgh cohort shared, “The SAP Social Sabbatical here in Edinburgh allowed me to understand the world of social enterprises much better and I am delighted that SAP wants to be an accelerator of good within our community… I became a better person, father, and team leader over the last two weeks and can guarantee I will remain involved for years to come.”
The feedback from the organizations, including Nigel Henderson, chief executive of Penumbra, is just as positive: “Having people who are not routinely involved in the world of mental health has been refreshing. We have been challenged, inspired, and complimented in equal measure, which has really helped us confirm our belief in what we are trying to do. Providing the tools and techniques to shift the culture of mental health services to ensure the rights, opportunities, and hopes of people experiencing mental ill health is a huge task, but now, thanks to the team from SAP, we have sharpened and refined our approach.“
Social Enterprise and Supply Chains
SAP is inspired by and in turn also seeks to inspire the social enterprise movement. The sector pushes SAP to innovate and deliver on its purpose-driven promise help every customer to become a best-run business that can help the world run better and improves people’s lives. SAP enables social enterprises through technology, talent, and access to markets to enhance their socially-driven and commercially viable business models. In short: the distinctive value SAP deliver for its customers each day is the same value the company can deliver for social enterprises.
One of the major ways that SAP and the SEWF will drive greater social impact is by introducing more social enterprises into corporate supply chains. More often than not, big businesses feed into other big businesses.
Technology like SAP Ariba can play a critical role in giving businesses visibility into their supply chains and identifying suppliers pursuing unsound, unethical, and unsustainable practices. But it also presents a very strong opportunity to include more organizations that go above and beyond to structure their business to deliver positive social impact.
This has been demonstrated by the likes of telecommunications company O2. The company has supplier relationships with several social enterprises, including leadership organization On Purpose, which provides associates to work on projects that develop the company’s social enterprise agenda.
By introducing social enterprises into the supply chain, it will give them sustainable sources of income and help to increase their longevity.
Together, SAP and Social Enterprise World Forum will work to support the growth and development of social enterprises throughout the world, tackling social issues through innovation wherever they are present.
Mona Farah is head of Strategic Initiatives for EMEA, MEE & Greater China at SAP.
Jennifer Beason is head of Communications for Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP.