Private sector & 'Double Impact'

Double Impact logo.jpgYour company can be at the leading edge & make a 'Double Impact'


'Double Impact' is an inititiative launched by Social Firms UK to engage private sector companies to work with Social Firms.  Get involved and you'll make your company's money go further while enhancing your corporate social responsibility (CSR) profile. 

Ways to get involved


  • Buy from Social Firms

We can help you procure from Social Firms. Social Firms are first and foremost businesses. They want your business, not your charity so consider them as suppliers. Our national online trade directory of Social Firm businesses can be found at We can help you identify the supply chain opportunities and link you to the Social Firms that are in a position to supply you with your required products and/or services. Buying from Social Firms makes your money go further, as each of the businesses reinvests its profits into creating more paid employment opportunities for people otherwise excluded from the labour market through their disadvantage or disability.

  • ‘Buddy’ a Social Firm

Give your managers and staff the opportunity to use their business skills and expertise to directly benefit Social Firms in their own business operations. Social Firms UK will help you identify a Social Firm business that complements your company and will examine possibilities for in-kind support that benefits you and the Social Firm. The aim of this brokered relationship is to reach the point of mutual trust and consistent partnership – there is no end to the opportunities for joint working here and a win/win for your company.

  • Start a Social Firm

This is the ultimate challenge for high-powered business people and management brains! Think of a business opportunity in the right marketplace and actually get it off the ground. This might be a new business or a development of a part of your existing business. Work with Social Firms UK to get the governance and legal structure right. Let us help you lever in social enterprise finance as match to your start-up investment. Work with us to float the Social Firm away from your company as a very concrete and tangible output of your CSR policy. To start a Social Firm is the ultimate achievement. You will be creating jobs for people who would otherwise struggle, in a business that understands and supports their needs and reinvests all profit to the good of the enterprise. You really will be ‘in business for good’...  

Become a Corporate or Network member

All of the above can be explored with Social Firms UK by becoming a Corporate or Network member of Social Firms UK.  For more information see our corporate membership page. 

CSR - why working with Social Firms is something to boast about

Double Impact is a new and exciting initiative that is picking up on the mood of the general public and many businesses these days wanting to see more impact with their money, for the wider good of society and the economy.  (See "The credit crunch could force businesses to become more hands-on in their approach to corporate social responsibility" by Sally Reynolds, Social Firms UK, The Guardian 24.09.08)

In today’s world the need to be socially responsible in all aspects of business practice are becoming all the more imperative. Work with us to identify a business opportunity that can be turned into a Social Firm. Being completely commercially minded, what a fabulous Unique Selling Point (USP) to differentiate you from your competition! In an ever crowded market place, differentiation is vital to business success and engagement with Social Firms can offer you that opportunity.

Social Firms UK has helped to grow the number of Social Firms from 5 to more than170 businesses over the last 10 years. We know the model works. Research has shown that for every person recovering from mental health problems full time employment in a Social Firm benefits the economy by around £21,000 every year - savings made on health care and benefits. We know that with your help we can grow the number of Social Firms in the UK faster.

Case studies

Here are some examples of great working relationships between Social Firms and the private Sector:


Double Impact partners  

Social Firms UK

Social Firms UK is the national charity tasked with growing the number of Social Firms (businesses that are set up to employ at least 25% of severely disadvantaged people within their workforce) in the UK. Our purpose is to strengthen and grow the Social Firm sector so that more severely disadvantaged people can achieve social and economic independence.  Founded in 1999 our two main roles are:

  • promoting the Social Firm model  -  through a mixture of lobbying, influencing policy, education and raising awareness about Social Firms and their potential for creating jobs for disadvantaged people in real businesses
  • direct intervention - actively growing the number of Social Firms - introducing the concept of franchising, licensing and replication, or business acquisition - and supporting growth by providing tools and resources.

In the past Social Firms have been developed mainly from disability and disadvantage service provider organisations such as MIND and MENCAP. Whilst we will continue to work with our traditional community of interest we believe that now is the right time for private sector companies and Social Firms UK to jointly engage in developing Social Firms. It’s a plus for companies who are serious about their commitment to being in business for good and it’s a plus for us too!

Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Invest is a specialised provider of finance to social enterprises. Part of the Big Issue group of companies, founded by John Bell and Gordon Roddick, it is led by social entrepreneurs and staffed by experienced financiers. Big Issue Invest is a social enterprise, with an asset lock and any dividends are paid to the Big Issue.


The RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) is running a campaign called ‘Hire Vision’ which promotes the acquisition of businesses for conversion into Social Firms. Companies will be introduced to the options being promoted by the RNIB under the ‘start a Social Firm’ element of Double Impact. More about the RNIB’s work can be found out at:


Liam Black, ex-director of the Fifteen Foundation, co-runs Wavelength which aims to connect great companies and inspiring social entrepreneurs through experiential visits and study tours, provision of world class speakers and bespoke events.

Contact us

For more information on working with Social Firms or Social Firms UK, call 01737 231360 or email Sally Reynolds directly.



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