Viewpoint featured as an example of an innovative social enterprise in a recent visit of senior business leaders to Leeds to learn more about the value of social enterprises.

Led by Charlotte Cool, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs at ASDA, attendees learnt the importance of working in collaboration with social enterprises to ensure a thriving, inclusive society.

The visit took delegates to Leeds Beckett University where they heard from leaders of innovative social enterprises: Alistair Ponton, CEO of Viewpoint Research and Miranda Stead, Director of Attigo. They introduced their businesses and the social impact that they’re delivering whilst sharing with delegates the challenges and opportunities they face as enterpreneurs around issues such as future proofing their sales pipeline, developing effective marketing plans and scaling up their businesses.

Despite the fact that social enterprises generate more than £24 billion annually for the UK economy and employ nearly 1 million people, creating social and environmental benefits for us all, they continue to face huge challenges around scaling-up their businesses and accessing finance and supply chain opportunities. Social enterprises make huge contributions to the UK economy and if they thrive, this benefits the society and plays an essential role in creating sustainable benefits for business, their employees and customers.

The day started with some deep insights from Peter Holbrook, CEO, Social Enterprise UK, into what a social enterprise is, why they exist and the contribution they make to the UK economy.

The delegates then made their way to SHINE social enterprise where they heard about Business in the Community’s arc programme which connects businesses and social enterprises to help them grow and create jobs. Since the programme’s launch in 2011, it has created over 4,500 jobs. This represents an estimated saving of £20.7m to the state and a contribution of £221m Gross Value Added to the UK economy.

Delegates also heard from Ian Duffy, Head of UK Communications and community development at BP, and Mat Roberts, Director of Sustainability Strategy at Interserve, on how their support of social enterprise is embedded within their core business strategy and the commercial benefits they get from it.