Social enterprises in the UK could be on the way to getting their own Fairtrade-style kite mark and trade association with the launch of a pilot project in the South West of England.
RISE, the voice for South West social enterprise and the Social Enterprise Coalition, the UK movement?s national body, are developing a regional trade association for South West England with a view to rolling it out nationally in the future.
Head of Policy and Communications at the Social Enterprise Coalition, Cherry Read, said "This is an extremely exciting development and it's coming at exactly the right time. According to government figures there are over 55,000 social enterprises in the country providing innovative and practical solutions to the key issues of our time, whilst contributing significantly to the economy - and yet only one in four people know what a social enterprise is.
"We've all seen what a quality kite mark did for Fairtrade - obviously consumers want to be given the right information to support the companies which have social and environmental aims. Social enterprise is the mothership of Fairtrade and its time for the wider movement to get the recognition it deserves."
Work on developing the kite mark and the membership criteria has already started and the trade association should be running by the end of the year.
The trade association will allow social enterprises to benefit from a quality social enterprise kite mark, leadership networking and broader opportunities to develop trading activity. It will provide support for social enterprises above that already offered by existing networks.
RISE believes the trade association will be financially viable in its own right, with the income from membership fees, sponsorship income and by offering quality improvement consultancy services.
The development of the trade association is being funded by Big Lottery's BASIS programme.