By Maximilian Clarke

Deloitte today announced a search for the UK’s most socially innovative businesses, to receive support from the business advisory firm.

‘Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers’ was launched at the London office, with Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus, pioneer of the microfinance movement and worldwide advocate of social business.

The aim of the programme is to support the development and growth of the social business sector, across the UK. It is estimated that there are 62,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing approximately £24bn to the economy. Deloitte believes there is significant potential for these businesses to become an influential and mainstream economic sector. The programme aims to identify social businesses that demonstrate sustainable positive impact and high-growth potential. In return, Deloitte will provide a package of support to help them achieve scale and become investment ready.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Yunus said: “Businesses with a clear social purpose have the power to deliver profound and sustainable change for the benefit of all. I strongly believe that this is the future of business. I’m delighted that forward-thinking businesses like Deloitte, through their Social Innovation Pioneers programme, are making serious commitments to support the development of growth in this sector.”

Applications to be a Pioneer are now open and Deloitte will reveal up to 50 Social Innovation Pioneers next spring. The package each will receive includes: access to Deloitte business experts and a dedicated team to manage the relationships and mentor the social business, networking opportunities with the firm’s clients and wider contacts, master classes on topics including leadership, business skills and investment readiness, and where appropriate, help in creating a non-executive board as well as access to pro bono support.

“Innovation and enterprise in the social business sector are increasingly a success story for the UK,” commented Heather Hancock, managing partner for talent and brand at Deloitte. “It’s a highly dynamic sector, and in the vanguard of a movement that’s also seeing leading businesses re-connect their core business purpose with their impact in society. Business can so often be a force for good — driving innovation, investment and skill that enable social progress and tackle some of our biggest societal challenges. There can only be more opportunity and shared progress in harnessing this global movement with energy and fresh directions that social businesses contribute.

"However, social innovation and enterprise needs support, investment and advice to fully realise their potential. Through the programme Deloitte is launching today, we want to help those businesses fulfil their potential by offering our Partners’ and people’s expertise in realising high growth opportunities. At the same time, we in Deloitte are keen to learn from their innovation and creativity.”

The programme was launched at Deloitte’s London headquarters with a number of social businesses in attendance. One of those attending was Livity, a youth engagement agency that works directly with young people to produce advertising and marketing campaigns and content for brands, charities and government to achieve their client’s objectives and improve the lives of young people. Deloitte have been working with Livity through their support of Big Society Network’s Nexters programme and are currently working on helping them to measure their social impact.

Livity recently launched ‘Somewhereto_’ by opening up the doors of 10 Downing Street. The group of talented young people, who were looking for somewhere to_ free run, perform spoken word and practice boxing, were given free rein to use 10 Downing Street as a space to showcase their talents and passion.

“There’s no shortage of social enterprise lists or awards. Deloitte’s Social Innovation Pioneers programme feels like the first time a business has provided real support for social enterprises,” said Sam Conniff, co-founder of Livity. “I will look to the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers to identify the best of the best in terms of social enterprises over the next couple of years.”

Partners helping Deloitte deliver this programme include: Social Enterprise UK, WaveLength, London Business School, Big Issue Invest and Matter&Co.

Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK, added: “We are delighted to be working with Deloitte on its Social Innovation Pioneers Programme. The social enterprise movement continues to grow in size, diversity and experience, but the potential for scaling its impact remains substantial. This makes the type of focused, expert support that Deloitte are providing all the more necessary and timely.”

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