The past few months have borne witness to an unprecedented global movement against racism. Disturbing footage of George Floyd’s tragic death at the hands of police triggered the biggest protest movement in US history and reverberated across the world. The resurgent Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement led a new wave of protests, demands and debates—in dozens of countries— about the fundamental structure of our societies. Millions of people have taken to the streets, donated to anti-racist charities, and made commitments to educate themselves about racial injustice. One of the many things which have emerged in this fight for racial equality is a call to support Black-owned businesses, as people look for ways to support the Black Community.
Activists have recognised their power as consumers, and found that by diverting their purchases to Black-owned businesses, they can strengthen local Black economies whilst helping to reduce the racial wealth gap. This also fosters jobs and community cohesion, and improves representation. While consumers have already made a huge difference on their own, there is still the enormous, untapped potential of upscaling this movement to an organisational level. If organisations are able to include Black-owned businesses within their supply chains, they could help to transform communities across the UK.
Below, we’ve listed six Black-owned social enterprise suppliers that your organisation can support by bringing them into your supply chain. By working with these companies, you would be doubling down on the impact: not only would you be supporting the movement for Black-owned businesses, you would at the same time be supporting invaluable social enterprises working to make change in a variety of ways.
North London based CIC Community Souls is a commercial cleaning company, employing adults on low incomes and those furthest from the job market. They offer secure employment and personal and professional development opportunities for their employees, helping to prevent them from entering long-term employment.
Community Souls was founded in 2011 by trained youth-worker, Rickardo Stewart who grew up on the estates of North London and experienced first-hand the deprivation, crime, and violence that these communities face. Rickardo has also helped to set up a number of other initiatives to support people facing hardship including youth clubs, support programmes for prisoners as well as Art Against Knives, a programme to prevent youth violence through creativity.
The founders of Tarem Services spent seven years working within the cleaning industry and witnessed the day-to-day reality for many employees: cleaners struggled financially and were required to travel huge distances across London multiple times a day for jobs that would only last a couple of hours, all just to make ends meet. The social enterprise was set up to tackle in-work poverty and to provide an essential service where staff members are valued through fair pay and the opportunity to grow and develop. Tarem’s staff are even made shareholders in the business at no cost to them, meaning they receive dividends from the profits made by the company, as well as a share of the profit produced by the individual contract they are working on.
Global Urban Design CIC is a social enterprise that provides the skills and services required for creating great Places which put people at the center of design. They work with private and public sector clients to create inclusive spaces that benefit communities. They truly represent and serve the people living near and using the place. Founding Director Jacqueline actively promotes urban design principles, universal design, inclusive place design and sustainable development practices. She values the community as experts in co-designing places they want to live, work and play. She works on urban design, masterplanning, place making and community capacity building to help Clients realise mixed-use developments, residential, public realm, parks, green space, regeneration, extensions, waterfronts, transportation network planning, community development, and creative social enterprise.
InUse-ReUse makes beautiful, functional furniture out of recycled materials. They offer a waste collection service for wooden pallets, unwanted wooden furniture and other wood waste which they give a second life. They work with clients of all sizes and sectors as well as working on community projects with other social enterprises to make furniture for public use.
InUse-ReUse support businesses and local authorities to reduce their impact on the environment, minimise the cost of disposal and promote sustainability.
Rising Starts Property Solutions CIC was founded in 2014 by La'Toyah Lewis. La'Toyah's direct experience with the difficulty of finding employment due to wrong choices motivated her to set up Rising Stars which provides employment opportunities, training and work experience to marginalised groups. Rising Stars Cleaning was what they were first known for offering a range of cleaning services such as grime, environmental, sanitisation and deep cleaning. La'Toyah has now gone on to grow they company within the social housing and construction sectors offering additional services in grounds maintenance and clearances.
Feed Me Good delivers health and wellbeing services for all kinds of organisations including housing associations, local councils, schools, youth services and charities. The CIC was set up by Nureen Glaves, a trained Public Health Nutritionist with a passion for using food as a way to break down barriers and share culture while staying healthy. Feed Me Good offers classes and courses on healthy eating, eating on a budget as well as on money management and skills training, such as CV writing, to support people facing barriers to employment.
If you’re interested in working with social suppliers such as the ones listed here, Supply Change can help. Get in touch to speak with a member of the team about how to incorporate social enterprises into your supply chain and use your everyday spend to make a positive impact.
By default, and sometimes through our own fault, the Supply Change team have contributed to and benefitted from a system that is racist. As a team of 4 white/white-facing women, we have navigated the social enterprise sector with much more ease than many and have benefited directly as a result.
With this in mind, we know we need to and must do all we can to stand with, platform and champion the work of our black colleagues in our sector. We have pledged to do the following:
Continue our learning about why our systems are racist, how to be anti-racist and our privilege (we found this useful, as a starting point).
Ally, where possible the work of our black colleagues, to fight against racial injustice and racial violence (we found this useful, as a starting point).
Commit to dispensing financial and non-financial organisational resources to propel the work of the following organisations and movements.