What is Social Procurement?
According to Imagine Canada, the country can be expected to carry the burden of a $23 billion social deficit by the year 2026. Simply put, the demand for social services outweighs the ability to publicly fund these valuable projects.
What is the solution?
Also known as social purchasing, social procurement provides an accessible way for businesses, agencies, and individuals to make a positive social impact by purchasing goods and services through social enterprises. Social procurement practices focus on a diversified bottom line emphasizing not only financial returns, but also environmental and social returns. By leveraging social value with standard market values, social procurement provides a possible answer to complex issues.
Since social enterprises reinvest their profits toward serving wider social objectives, social procurement has become increasingly popular with governments and businesses alike. For governments, social procurement practices allow for the sustainable spending of tax dollars to be reinvested back into the community. These types of contracts also support an innovative business model for cutting-edge enterprises who want to put sustainable practices into action.
Finding Calls for Proposals: Where to Start
One of the easiest ways to win contracts is to take an active stance in seeking out proposals. Sites like Merx, rfp.ca and biddingo.com can all be good places to start when sourcing requests for proposals (RFPs) that are targeting social procurement objectives.
At the same time, social enterprises should also ensure that they are listed on local social enterprise directories, like CSED’s We All Profit Directory, catering to the Ottawa area. This way, businesses can seek out social enterprises at their leisure.
Assess the Opportunity
The more targeted the objectives, the better the chances for success; provided that a social enterprise has the resources to meet those objectives.
For example, community benefits clauses will not only help ensure there is less chance for confusion regarding the objectives, but also that the job is well suited to the social enterprise, therefore maximizing opportunities for a winning bid.
Get Certified to Increase the Chances of Success
Buy Social Canada offers the only national-level social procurement certification.
Obtaining this certification will not only establish the validity of an organization's mission but also gives social enterprises the edge that they need to stand out from the pack, and achieve a higher level in terms of marketing potential.
Seizing Opportunities: Catering Pilot for the National Capital Region
The Canadian Government has recently undertaken initiatives to increase and promote more diversity in the realm of social procurement. In his 2017 Minister of Public Services and Procurement Mandate Letter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the need to work toward modernizing the social procurement process including:
“...developing initiatives to increase the diversity of bidders on government contracts, in particular businesses owned or led by Canadians from underrepresented groups, such as women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities...”
A pilot project was in the Atlantic Region, targeting catering groups that are women-led or women-owned. This resulted in a government-led initiative pilot that has recently been expanded to the National Capital Region, targeting catering enterprises led by members of an underrepresented group.
The purpose is to provide social enterprises led by underrepresented groups a fairer shot of nailing social procurement contracts. Catering enterprises that fit the requirements should not hesitate to jump on this valuable opportunity to increase their prospects by responding to a request for information as soon as possible.
While social labour is not a new concept, social procurement as an official process is still in the early stages of its development.
By contributing to the establishment of social procurement procedures and opportunities, social enterprises will not only better their chances of success but help contribute to the building of a more feasible economic model for future generations to come.