Exporting Social Enterprise: A survey of overseas trade by UK social enterprises – and how to foster its growth 

Did you know that 11% of UK social enterprise currently trade or franchise overseas?

Inspired by that finding, the British Council and Social Enterprise UK teamed up to conduct the first study in the UK – and perhaps in the world – to specifically examine overseas trade and franchising by UK social enterprises.

Launched in 2014, the report is based on a survey of social enterprises as well as interviews with social enterprises; experts from the commercial sector such as UKTI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Export; and with intermediary organisations such as UnLtd and Ashoka.

The report investigates what types of UK social enterprises are exporting, how they are trading and franchising overseas and where they are obtaining support. It examines the main drivers, key export markets and most highly traded goods and services. It explores what challenges social enterprises face in exporting and concludes with recommendations to support the growth of the UK social enterprise export market. 

The report finds that significant numbers of social enterprises are accessing new markets and furthering their social mission through overseas trade. However, it notes that the social enterprises best known for operating at scale internationally are based outside of the UK.

But as Paula Woodman of the British Council and Nick Temple of SEUK note in the introduction, “The time is ripe for this to change, with increasing political attention and forecasts for strong UK export growth, we want to ensure that Britain’s global success is not just the same old business-as-usual, but that it is driven by thriving social enterprises as well.”

To download the report, please visit our Reports page. 

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