Orbit announces new business partnership to boost SE buying power

Orbit has announced a new business partnership with a social enterprise which aims to change the way public sector contracts are won.

Orbit has announced a new business partnership with a social enterprise which aims to change the way public sector contracts are won.

Supply Change is an online platform business which will launch this week and act as a digital marketplace to enable greater procurement between social enterprises and public sector organisations.

Currently, many social enterprises are deterred from bidding for public sector contracts due to the complexity and time and conversely social enterprise is often invisible and seen as too risky by public procurement.

Beth Pilgrim, Supply Change CEO and Co-founder, explained:  “Every year, the public sector procures £284 billion worth of goods and services from large contractors, equating to almost a third of total Government spending.  However, our research shows that around 70% of social enterprises reported that the bidding for public contracts is too expensive, time consuming and complex to complete. We want to challenge that and are designing solutions to change this.”

Supply Change has created a digital platform which will enable social enterprises and public sector organisations to connect online in a way that improves visibility, speed and helps to manage initial risk.

This will allow social enterprises to showcase their work in one forum as they showcase their work, capabilities and their social impact. Meanwhile, public sector businesses can find the best enterprise for their needs in one place and with the assurance that initial risk has been assessed.

All social enterprises will go through initial due diligence by the Supply Change team before going ‘live’ and becoming part of its trusted network of organisations.

“More and more public sector organisations are looking to place contracts which drive social change, yet often they don’t know how to find business which will do that in a way that balances impact and risk” Beth added. “This online marketplace will allow them to easily search for the business area or trade they need.”

Orbit is supporting Supply Change with an investment £25,000 alongside continued non-financial support in the form of access to its procurement team to test the product and put forward social enterprises for contract opportunities.

Sam Scharf, Director of Community Investment at Orbit, said: “Having the knowledge and time to get involved in public procurement is often a challenge for many social enterprises.  They are often doing a fantastic day job, but are not so comfortable with this side of the business and don’t have the resources of larger business. 

“This means that many miss out on lots of opportunities which would be perfectly suited to them and to the public sector organisation which is looking to fill that contract. Equally, it is a challenge for procurement teams to identify suitable social enterprise and to manage the risk of contracting with often small enterprises. 

“What Supply Change is doing will broker this divide, supporting the procurement process along for both parties.”

How it works for the buyer.

  • Public sector buyers are provided with a log-in to the Supply change platform.
  • They can browse a list of social enterprises and filter them based on their location, trade and impact.
  • If they are interested in a supplier they can request an introduction through the platform and the Supply change team will facilitate an introduction.

How it works for social enterprises

  • Social enterprises are taken through a due diligence process by filling in a questionnaire.
  • Once this has been reviewed by the Supply Change team, a profile is created that showcases the supplier’s work, experience and impact.
  • The Supply Change team will facilitate introductions to public sector buyers and provide support with bidding opportunities.

Supply Change is now looking for additional founding partners, like Orbit, and more details can be found at https://www.supplychange.co.uk

Beth added:  “The investment we have received from Orbit has proved invaluable; not just in financial terms but also in the time and advice we have received.  If any other organisations think they can help in this way also, we would love to hear from them.”

Any social enterprise or public sector organisation wishing to sign up for the process can find out more at https://www.supplychange.co.uk