One way an organisation can drive positive impact is through their supply chains. Social procurement takes place when a company buys from social businesses who supply products and services alongside creating a social and/or environmental impact, for example by creating employment for marginalised groups or repurposing waste material.
At YSB, we believe that social procurement is a powerful way for organisations to turn their supply chains into a force for good, namely because of its unique two-way value:
In this article, we will highlight five social businesses who empower marginalised communities and protect the planet in Latin America, East Africa and Asia, and who are doing so at scale via corporate social procurement partnerships.
100% Amazonia is a female-owned business that supplies renewable non-timber forest products from the Amazon rainforest. This B-Corp partners with local cooperatives and family farms to obtain wild-harvested fruits and seeds, and then processes it into pulps, purees, powders, concentrates, and oils. The social business builds bridges between Amazonian communities and companies by managing and articulating the entire process: from the selection of partners and suppliers, to the delivery of products to their final destinations around the world.
By building fair-trade value chains in the Amazon forest, 100% Amazonia empowers local communities and protects biodiversity.
100% Amazonia has already sold to international companies in the food & beverage, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries in more than 65 countries, including brands like LUSH, Firmenich or Nestlé.
The Brazilian company Attitude Inclusão was founded to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities and neurodivergent people in the job market. Its primary purpose is to offer fair and equitable opportunities to neurodiverse people.
Attitude Inclusão offers consultancy, training, and learning services to companies to help them build inclusive work environments for diverse workforces. Attitude Inclusão also accompanies neurodiverse talents with mentoring, soft-skill training, and connecting them with job opportunities in the market. Through these two approaches, the social business helps fill in the gaps of building inclusive workforces, both from the side of the employer and the employee.
Addressing the challenges of the neurodivergent community is especially important in Brazil, given the fact that 1 out of 10 Brazilians exhibit some type of disability and thus don’t get equal opportunities in the job market. To date, Attitude Inclusão has impacted more than 25 companies and trained 850 professionals to create an inclusive working culture.
Jabir Karat was always deeply affected by the waste crisis in India, especially by the daily plight of waste pickers who were confronted with poor working conditions and social stigma. He decided to work as a waste picker himself to understand what the main issues in waste management were, and more importantly, to find a solution. Jabir’s first-hand experience in waste-picking is what led him to found Green Worms in 2014 with the vision of properly managing waste in India while creating dignified jobs for waste pickers. Today, Green Worms works within the circular economy by collecting, sorting, and processing plastic waste into recycled materials. These materials are offered to organisations across various sectors (from packaging, to cosmetics, to furniture) who can choose to either integrate it in their direct value chain or start with their indirect expenses (like office supplies).
Green Worms generates impact at a social and an environmental level. At the social level, Green Worms trains women from low-income communities to become waste-picking entrepreneurs, ensuring them a minimum guaranteed income and safe working conditions.
The plastic waste picked by the women working at Green Worms is diverted from landfills, oceans, and coastal regions, thereby generating a positive impact for the environment as well.
Having already collected 500 metric tons of waste, engaged with 2,600 women waste entrepreneurs and created 350 dignified jobs, the impact of Green Worms spans 120 villages across India.
Another great example of a social business in the circular economy is Angirus. Also based in India, they provide damp-proof bricks made from 100% recycled waste material.
They partner with municipalities and vendors to collect plastic and industrial waste, turn it into bricks, and put the repurposed waste back into use for the construction industry.
These bricks can be used for various purposes, including the creation of parking lots, community toilets, security rooms, and boundary walls. Angirus bricks are 30% stronger and absorb 80% less water than conventional bricks.
With its product, Angirus eliminates the use of fertile soil, coal, and water, thus conserving scarce natural resources and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions for the production of building bricks. The social business has already successfully diverted and recycled more than 90 metric tons of non-recyclable and single-use waste into sustainable bricks. Corporations in the construction industry who buy Angirus bricks can help to reduce waste and create a positive environmental impact, all without disrupting their daily operations.
Alive and Kicking is a Kenyan social enterprise using the power of sports to make a difference. Alive and Kicking makes hand-stitched, screen-printed durable sports balls made of locally-sourced materials. Founded in 2004, it provides full-time and fair employment to vulnerable women, youth, and people with disabilities, thus helping them to uplift themselves and their families out of poverty.
In addition to increasing basic living standards, Alive and Kicking also donates a percentage of their profits towards local communities' access to play.
First, it donates sport balls to schools and clubs in vulnerable communities in order to give children access to sport and physical activity. They also use part of their revenues and partnerships to train local sports coaches and teachers to deliver vital health education. These teachers raise awareness among young people about preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDs and mental health issues.
Over the years, Alive and Kicking has created over 1,000 dignified jobs, donated over 180,000 footballs, trained over 1,000 health coaches, and educated over 90,000 youths on the awareness and prevention of disease.
The social businesses presented in this article are but a small example of a growing number of corporate-ready suppliers that are eager and able to work with corporate buyers to create impact. If you are interested in exploring social procurement for your organisation, are wondering where to start, or are seeking social businesses in a particular category, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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