SAP Backs Social Enterprises Through £2 Trillion Procurement Platform

LONDON — SAP (UK) Limited plans to strengthen its support of the social enterprise sector by making it even easier for organisations to find and do business with certified social enterprises on Ariba® Network, the digital marketplace where more than £2 trillion in business-to-business commerce is conducted annually.

As the official technology partner of Social Enterprise UK, the expert body for the UK’s social enterprise sector, SAP aims to facilitate better connections between corporate buyers and other employees with social enterprises, helping them spend better and in a more socially and environmentally sustainable way.

The potential of this partnership is substantial – globally Ariba® Network supports 2.3 times more commerce than Amazon, Alibaba and eBay combined. In the UK, Ariba Network hosts nearly 200,000 buyers and suppliers and handles over £65 billion in spend – equivalent to 3.2% of UK GDP; double the size of Edinburgh’s economy.

SAP believes greater corporate procurement from social enterprises is key to improving the social and environmental impact of business. This is critical at a time when the public, government, and business are calling for more inclusive, and socially and environmentally responsible economic growth. Just 1% of the global spend on Ariba Network directed towards social enterprises would translate to an injection of £23 billion in the sector, turbocharging the growth of these transformative businesses.

As well as opening up its platform wider to social enterprises, SAP has also joined Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge, a ground-breaking initiative through which  leading corporates integrate social enterprises into their supply chains with the aim of achieving a combined £1 billion spend.

The Corporate Challenge is about to enter its fourth year and currently has 15 partners, including some of the UK’s biggest companies. Partners come from sectors ranging from construction and insurance to professional services firms. By participating in this initiative, companies have both diversified and driven innovation in their supply chains, using their procurement function to change how they buy goods and services.

Social Enterprise Is About Building Business That Matters

Commenting on the new partnership, Adaire Fox-Martin, SAP Executive Board Member for Global Customer Operations, said: “This is about building business that matters. We look forward to a strong relationship with Social Enterprise UK to better connect corporate buyers with social enterprise suppliers. Through the reach of Ariba® Network we have a powerful platform for companies to put their money where their purpose is and scale the social enterprise sector.

“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.

“SAP sees social procurement as the future. Procurement can and must be used to build a fairer, more sustainable world, and we will be using our platform to shift how markets work and help companies achieve this.”

Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK said: “Social enterprise is the future of business, but to get to a world where every business has concern for society and our environment at its core, we need to work with others. SAP has pinned its colours to the mast as a progressive business which cares about people, not just profits. By becoming our technology partner and joining our Buy Social Corporate Challenge, SAP is setting an example that we need other businesses to follow.”


For further information please contact Adam Clatworthy at SAP UK&I – adam.clatworthy@sap.com I 07918 372043 or Shehan Perera at Social Enterprise UK – shehan.perera@socialenterprise.org.uk I 020 3589 4959

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.


About the partnership

As Social Enterprise UK’s technology partner, SAP will advance the social enterprise sector by collaborating on initiatives that deliver to them better access to markets and buyers, to talent and to technology. In turn, the two organisations seek to define innovate ways for corporates to engage the social enterprise sector in similar ways.

About Social Enterprise UK

Together with our members we are the voice for social enterprise in the UK. We build markets, undertake research, provide information and tools, share knowledge, raise awareness and campaign to create a business environment where social enterprises thrive.  Our members range from local grass-roots organisations to multi-million-pound businesses.


About Social Enterprises

  • Social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social purpose that reinvest or donate over half their profits to further this social or environmental mission
  • They are an increasingly important part of the UK economy contributing £60 billion and employing 2 million people. Estimates are there are 100,000 in the UK.
  • Social enterprises operate in nearly every part of the economy from coffee carts creating jobs for the homeless and soap manufacturers employing people with disabilities to community owned energy providers and organisations delivering integrated health and care services across entire regions. There are even social enterprise bus companies and dentists.
  • They are outperforming traditional businesses when it comes to start-up rates, turnover growth and innovation. 25% are under three years old (compared to 8% of other businesses), 47% grew their turnover in the last 12 months compared to 34% of other UK businesses, and 50% introduced new products of services (compared to 33% of SMEs)[1]
  • Social enterprises are leading the way on workplace diversity – 41% are female led, way ahead of SMEs (20%) and the FTSE100 (7%). 12% have a leader from the BAME community, compared to 5% of SMEs.

For more information and statistics see Social Enterprise UK’s State of Social Enterprise Report: The Future of Business and the ‘Hidden Revolution’ report, launched in September 2018 which showed the true scale and impact of the sector.

About the Buy Social Corporate Challenge

The Buy Social Corporate Challenge is a simple initiative with a bold ambition: a group of high-profile businesses are aiming to collectively spend £1 billion with social enterprises. The Challenge was launched at Number 11 Downing Street in April 2016 with seven founding partners, growing to 11 at the end of 2018/19. 2018/19 partners are Amey, BP, Johnson and Johnson, Linklaters, LV =, PwC, Robertson Group, Santander, Wates, and Zurich. Five new partners are joining the Challenge for its fourth year – Engie, Lendlease, Nationwide, SAP and Wilmott Dixon.

The Year 3 Impact Report for the Challenge found that:

  • Corporate Partners have cumulatively spent over £65m with approximately 250 social enterprises
  • Profit reinvestment by social enterprises to their social/environmental mission to date now stands at £5.5m having been £3m for the first two years. This shows that the Challenge is having a real impact on social enterprises, allowing them to change more lives.
  • Jobs created by social enterprises through the Challenge have nearly doubled from 329 for the first two years to 637 direct jobs created to date.
  • All Corporate Partners surveyed stated that social enterprise suppliers are of higher or equal quality to their mainstream competitors.

The Year Three Impact Report for the Buy Social Corporate Challenge will be available to download from the morning of 17 April at www.socialenterprise.org.uk


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[1] Stats looking at the year 2016-2017