On the back of a strategic partnership with Social Enterprise UK and other social enterprise advocacy groups, SAP aims to ramp up the social impact that companies can deliver through the power of Ariba Network.

At the Houses of Parliament in London earlier this year, SAP Executive Board Member Adaire Fox-Martin appealed to an audience of the UK’s leading social enterprise CEOs and corporate executives to come even closer together to find “a better way to grow.”

Together with Chair Lord Victor Adebowale and CEO Peter Holbrook, Fox-Martin announced SAP’s partnership with Social Enterprise UK, through which the two organizations plan to further scale the burgeoning social enterprise sector.

Buy Social Corporate ChallengeSocial enterprises are normal businesses in that they generate the majority of their income through trade, albeit with several important differentiating characteristics. First, they have a clear social or environmental mission set out in their governing documents. They reinvest the majority of their profits back into their business or mission. They are autonomous of state. And they are majority controlled in the interests of their social mission.

Social Impact of Ariba Network

As the official technology partner of Social Enterprise UK, SAP aims to support such social enterprises by providing them with greater access to markets, talent, and technology. As the world’s largest digital marketplace, Ariba Network can play a leading role in these efforts. By connecting more corporate buyers with social enterprise suppliers, the platform can facilitate procurement spend toward goods and services from organizations dedicated to delivering a positive social impact.

“We will be using our platform to shift how markets work,” Fox-Martin said. “This is about building businesses that matter. Working with social enterprise suppliers allows companies to use their everyday procurement spend in a way which changes lives, whether that’s creating jobs for vulnerable women, protecting our planet through sustainable materials, or reinvesting profits back into local communities.”

Along with many other sustainable brands, Johnson & Johnson is opening doors for small and diverse suppliers through Ariba Network, where more than £2 trillion in business-to-business (B2) commerce is conducted annually. In the UK alone, more than 200,000 buyers and suppliers are connected to Ariba Network. In the past year, these companies have exchanged more than 1 million purchase orders worth more than £12 billion. The potential of this partnership is substantial: Globally, Ariba Network supports 2.3 times more commerce than Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay combined.

Connecting Procurers and Social Enterprises

Toast Ale, an award-winning craft beer company and social enterprise that aims to reduce food waste by “brewing a better planet,” is one such social enterprise. Food production has a huge impact on the environment. It uses vast amounts of land, water, and energy, yet one-third of all food is wasted. The brewers, “breadwinners,” and customer “kneads” managers at Toast Ale are on a mission to help stop the trashing of the planet.

“Toast Ale is one of my favorite examples of a social enterprise,” says Andy Daly, head of Corporate Partnerships at Social Enterprise UK. “This brewer donates 100 percent of its profits to a charity that helps eliminate food waste, making it a business that’s changing the world for the better.”

Daly has worked with multinationals such as Johnson & Johnson UK to help open up supply chain systems to social enterprise suppliers. Johnson & Johnson is one of 15 large businesses signed up to the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, a groundbreaking initiative to transform how companies spend their money, going beyond just charitable donations to embed social impact into everyday spend.

Johnson & Johnson is one of the best examples of a procurement for purpose company,” he says. “Its supply chain people are charged with developing a diverse social value program through the firm’s supply base. For example, Johnson & Johnson UK buys office supplies from WildHearts Office, one of the UK’s leading B2B social enterprises. They in turn use the profits to support microfinance programs in developing countries to help women achieve financial independence.”

“SAP Ariba is the jewel in our crown,” says Daly, who was thrilled when SAP came on board as a partner. “It’s helping us solve the challenge of making social enterprises visible in the supply chain network.”

“To get to a world where every business has concern for society and our environment at its core, we need to work with others,” he says. “SAP is a progressive business that cares about people, not just profits. By becoming our technology partner and joining our Buy Social Corporate Challenge, SAP is setting an example for other businesses to follow.”